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Remember the Sonics! is introducing a new feature called Guest Space. Any reader is welcome to submit their own work for consideration, as long as it falls within the realm of sports history, analysis, projections, etc.

The Guest Space premiere article is from Brian Hodges, an Oklahoma native and avid Oklahoma State Cowboys fan.

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I know it may be heresy to write about Oklahoma City sports on a blog named Remember the Sonics, but please hear me out.

Oklahoma City has never been known as a breeding ground for top-notch athletes. While Hall of Fame athletes like Mickey Mantle, Johnny Bench, and Steve Largent were born and/or raised in Oklahoma City, their time of greatness has long passed. Since then, Oklahomans have been forced to find pride in gymnasts such as Bart Conner and Shannon Miller… And who really cares about gymnastics?

Despite a long run of mediocrity, the past year has been freakishly good for Oklahoma City sports. For example, in the last calendar year players from Oklahoma City hoisted the Heisman Trophy (awarded to the best player in college football) and the Naismith Trophy (awarded to the best player in college basketball).

Here are a few Oklahoma City athletes who had outstanding accomplishments last season:

Sam Bradford – Football – Oklahoma Sooners QB

QB Sam Bradford

QB Sam Bradford

In only his sophomore year, quarterback Sam Bradford led the Oklahoma Sooners to a BCS National Championship. Throwing for over 4,700 yards and 50 touchdowns earned him the Davey O’Brien Award (awarded to the best quarterback in college football) and the most prestigious award in college football, the Heisman Trophy.

At the conclusion of this year’s college football season, Bradford was considered one of the top prospects for the 2009 NFL Draft. Instead of turning pro, however, he decided to return to Oklahoma for his junior year.

Sam Bradford’s 2008 College Football Resume

  • Led Oklahoma to a 12-1 Regular Season Record
  • Won the Big 12 Conference Championship
  • Earned a BCS National Championship Bid
  • Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year
  • AP First Team All-American
  • AP College Football Player of the Year
  • Sporting News Player of the Year
  • Sammy Baugh Trophy Winner
  • Davey O’Brien Award Winner
  • Heisman Trophy Winner

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Blake Griffin – Basketball – Oklahoma Sooners PF/C

griffin

PF/C Blake Griffin

In his sophomore year, Blake Griffin led Oklahoma to the Elite Eight. Griffin owned college basketball this season, averaging 22.7 Points Per Game and an NCAA-Best 14.4 Rebounds Per Game while recording 30 double-doubles. He won every legitimate “Player of the Year” trophy in 2009 and is universally projected as the No.1 pick in the upcoming NBA Draft.

Blake Griffin’s 2008-09 College Basketball Resume

  • Led Oklahoma to a 27-4 Regular Season Record and an Elite Eight Appearance
  • Big 12 Player of the Year
  • Adolph Rupp Award Winner
  • Oscar Robertson Trophy Winner
  • AP First Team All-American
  • Sports Illustrated Player of the Year
  • Sporting News Player of the Year
  • AP College Basketball Player of the Year
  • John Wooden Award Winner
  • Too Many Other POTY Awards to List

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Xavier Henry – Basketball – Putnam City High School SG

xavier

SG Xavier Henry

Oklahoma City’s athletic success carried over to the high school ranks as well.

Xavier Henry, from my alma mater Putnam City High School, was the No.1 ranked college basketball prospect by ESPNU for most last season. He is still considered a top 10 prospect by every major recruiting website.

The 6’6” shooting guard committed to Memphis but is now considering other options since head coach John Calipari accepted the head coaching position at Kentucky. According to various sources, he has narrowed his list to Kansas, Memphis and the now-Calipari-led Kentucky Wildcats.

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Oklahoma City Thunder – NBA Franchise – Established in 2008

Most sports fans know how the Oklahoma City Thunder came to be, but most (former) Seattle Sonics fans are unaware of the Thunder’s impact on it’s new city. 2008 will always be remembered as the year that Oklahoma City finally received a major professional sports team.

While the Thunder struggled through its first season in Oklahoma City, it has a strong young corps of players led by superstar Kevin Durant. The Thunder will have a lottery pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, and have an outside chance at winning the No.1 Pick and adding local icon Blake Griffin to their roster.

Despite this season’s failure, the OKC Thunder are quickly becoming a stylish pick among NBA writers for the “team of the future.” The only question is when the Thunder can put it all together and produce a winning season.

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While the three athletes mentioned above are still very young, their potential is limitless. It is yet to be seen whether they will follow former Oklahoma City football star Brian Bosworth by turning into one of the biggest flops in the sports history or follow one of the Hall of Fame athletes mentioned before and become a legend.

Regardless of where they go from here, their futures are bright.

Oklahoma City sports fans should live it up while they can, because I don’t see Okies winning both the Heisman and the Naismith awards again any time soon.

-BH-

Brian Hodges can be reached at bhodges@harding.edu

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This time of year always seems the same… Brett Favre debates his love for the game, ESPN covers FavreWatch closer than 15-year old girls follow the Twilight Series (yes my girlfriend is 21 and reads them— hold on while I bang my head against the wall ’til i forget what I just wrote), Pac-Man makes it rain the club (while possibly killing someone in the process), the Yanks and Red Sox fight over all the good free agents, and the Raiders look for a new head coach while deciding  what draft pick they want to waste this year.

Despite all this entertainment, my favorite part of January/February is the trade rumors that swirl right before the NBA trade deadline. While I love to watch NBA games, the General Manager in me also loves to hear who goes where for what. In the NBA, one trade can change the landscape of a season— for better or worse. If you want to see the impact that trade deadline deals can have, just look at last season. Two teams from last year’s trade deadline stand out the most: the Lakers and the Mavericks.

"YES! I Finally Got Out Of Memphis!"

"I Finally Got Out Of Memphis!"

Before the trade deadline last season, the Lakers were considered a playoff-caliber team. This was a team built around SG Kobe Bryant, SF/PF Lamar Odom, and  emerging C Andrew Bynum. With this much talent, it seemed the Lakers needed a trade as much as I need a lap dance from Rosie O’donnell. However, on February 1 I got on my computer and witnessed the steal of the year. The Lakers gave away the expiring contract of Kwame Brown, an inexperienced Javaris Crittenton, the corpse of Aaron McKie, and globe-trotter Marc Gasol (who at the time wasn’t believed to be coming to the NBA) in exchange for All-Star PF/C Pau Gasol. Translation: even self-proclaimed NBA Executive of the Year Isaiah Thomas thought it was a bad trade for Memphis. At the time the Lakers didn’t need to make a trade, but their aggressive tactics would pay off in the end. Less than a month after the deal, Andrew Bynum fell victim to a virtual season-ending injury, leaving Pau Gasol to handle the Center duties. This was move vaulted the Lakers to the NBA Finals.

On the opposite end of the spectrum was Dallas. After watching the Lakers commit second-degree theft on the Grizzlies and seeing the Suns trade for Shaquille O’Neal, Dallas felt it needed a shake-up. The perceived goal was to improve the teams mental toughness, which the Mavs apparently lacked after regularly flaming out in the playoffs. Desperate to make a move, Dallas traded young PG Devin Harris, spare parts, and two first-round draft picks for perennial All-Star PG Jason Kidd. At the time, it seemed like a boom or bust trade for Dallas. Sadly, it was all bust. This trade ended worse for the Mavericks than the last guy that talked back to Chuck Norris… if such a person even existed.  Kidd couldn’t find a rhythm in Avery Johnson’s ISO offense and the Mavs graduallydroppeed from the Western Conference #1 Seed to #7. To make matters worse the pain continued into 2009, as Devin Harris emerged as a go-to scorer and Jason Kidd just kept on aging.

Knowing how influential deadline deals can be… let’s make a trade! Many teams are getting desperate as the season progresses. Because of this, I have come up with a few trade ideas that might help teams win a championship (or realize that rebuilding is on the way)

Dallas Mavericks / Miami Heat

NOTE : This is a purely hypothetical trade that will probably never happen— but keep an open mind.

As a Mavs fan, I believe they need to rebuild. Sadly, last night’s victory over the Warriors will give Mark Cuban a reason to believe in this team once again. But if I hopped into the Mavs GM seat, I would act as if Dallas was going no where anytime soon. That being said, it might be time to give the Big German a chance to win a championship elsewhere and reap some young talent in the process.

Dallas Trades – PF Dirk  Nowitzki / PG Jason Terry
Miami Trades – PF Michael Beasley / PF Shawn Marion

Jason Kidd At The 1973 Draft

Jason Kidd At The 1973 Draft

Why Dallas Makes This Trade – Dallas gets a good young player (Beasley) and a big expiring contract (Marion) for their franchise player, Dirk Nowitzki. This is a trade in which Dallas gets some young talent to build around and also an expiring contract that could be flipped later on. Young talent and financial flexibility are  essential assets to a team looking to rebuild.

Why Miami Makes This Trade – Miami goes for broke with this trade. The Heat become instant contenders by gaining one of the best players in the league (Nowitzki) and a current 20PPG scorer (Terry). These could be the perfect compliments to Miami star Dwayne Wade. Neither Nowitzki nor Terry need to have the ball in their hands to play effectively, which allows Wade to continue his dominance in Miami. It’s possible Dallas could include Jerry  Stackhouse’s expiring contract so Miami can flip him later for a good post defender.

Even after this trade, the Mavs would have a bunch of good trading chips (Marion’s expiring contract, Kidd and his expiring contract,  and young star Josh Howard) to offer playoff teams looking for a push.

Now to the real world….

Miami Heat / Toronto Raptors

This idea is based off the realistic rumor that PF/C Jermaine O’Neal could go to the Heat for PF Shawn Marion.

Miami Trades – PG Marcus Banks / PF Shawn Marion
Toronto Trades – SF Joey Graham /  PF/C Jermaine O’Neal

"I Don't Really Care Where I Play... Just Gimme The Ball And Some Money"

"I Don't Really Care Where I Play... Just Gimme The Ball / Money"

Why Miami Makes This Trade – Marion takes up time at PF and pushes high-profile rookie Michael Beasley to SF. By making this trade, Jermaine O’Neal would slide into the Heat’s talent-shallow C position allowing Beasley to start at PF. Joey Graham could start immediately at SF giving the Heat another outside shooter to spread the floor for D-Wade. Jermaine O’Neal has a large contract, but it will be up in the Free Agent Summer of 2010 (which is shaping up to be the grand-daddy of them all).

Why Toronto Make This Trade – Brian Colangelo has desperately tried to transform the Toronto Raptors into the Phoenix Suns (may they rest in peace) of the East. With this trade, they acquire a player built for scoring the ball in seven seconds or less. Shawn Marion would play his natural position as a PF in a run and gun offense while Toronto star C Chris Bosh would be the equivalent of Phoenix’s Amar’e Stoudemire. The Raptors would also receive a decent PG to back up starter Jose Calderon. If the Shawn Marion experience doesn’t end up working, the Raptors will let him and his 18-million dollar expiring contract hit the road this summer.

New Orleans Hornets / Phoenix Suns

New Orleans Trades – SF Rasual Butler / PF David West / First-Round Draft Pick
Phoenix Trades – PF/C Amar’e Stoudemire

Imagine This As An Alley-Oop

Imagine This As An Alley-Oop

Why New Orleans Makes This Trade – The Hornets have taken a step back this year. Last year they were considered a Western Conference favorite by many experts, but now they are relegated to the middle of the pack. While the trade makes sense for both sides, the Hornets are the clear winners of talent. I have had dreams of Chris Paul running pick and rolls and throwing oops to Dwight Howard… but I guess Amar’e will do. The Hornets also start a great defensive C in Tyson Chandler, which is a must for the defensively challenged Stoudemire. This is a move that could propel the Hornets back into the elite of the Western Conference.

Why Phoenix Makes This Trade – Tension has begun to haunt the Suns again. The Suns have entered talks about trading Stoudemire as he has become unsatisfied with the new offensive system in Phoenix. Because of this unrest, the Suns are scared that Amar’e won’t re-sign with them after Summer 2010. With this trade, the Suns add a perfect compliment to Shaquille O’Neal and Steve Nash in PF David West. He plays the pick-and-roll and pick-and-pop extremely well and also plays tough defense that head coach Terry Porter will love. To top it off the Suns receive another shooter (Butler) and a first-round draft pick to balance out the trade. This is a risky trade, but if the Suns resign to the fact they have to trade Amar’e, they won’t get much better talent than this.

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Will any of this happen? Probably not. But oh well, let the games begin…

-howell-

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