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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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After the first weekend of March (the greatest sports month in my opinion), the NCAA Tournament field has been trimmed in half and there are 16 teams left standing.  Not so surprisingly, there haven’t been many upsets. Because of this, all those brackets that gambled on a few major upsets are now wadded up in the corner like mine.  Seriously, I’m tied for last in my family league… which my mom is winning… (sigh).

Pittsburgh C Dajuan Blair

Pittsburgh C Dajuan Blair

In all honesty, I expected this. I just didn’t want to believe it. All four No.1 seeds, No.2 seeds, and No.3 seeds have advanced to the Sweet Sixteen. Joining them are two No.4 seeds, a No.5 seed, and Arizona as the outcast No.12 seed, the lone “bracket buster” to make it through the first weekend.

Despite my Elite Eight losing only one team in Arizona State (don’t ask), the weekend wasn’t all that grand. Story lines focused on the “what could have been” teams over the “can you believe that!” teams,  Blake Griffin and Dajuan Blair were allowed to maul people (and get away with it) because of their star power, and instead of focusing on Cinderalla-caliber teams, the media didn’t shut up about some kids parents in the stands  (if you don’t believe the frenzy watch the Oklahoma v. Syracuse game and count the number of times you see the ugly mugs of the Griffin parents— I’ll give you great odds that it’s over 20).

All things considered it was an incredible weekend of basketball with great games played by some upset-minded teams, but if one thing was evident to me this weekend, it is the need for new officiating crews and announcing teams.

Despite these problems, March Madness is still the best time of year for any one sport. However, instead of the better teams getting help from officials and praise from announcers, we  need a little more madness.  Look for it as best you can this next weekend, but don’t be surprised when the top seeds keep rolling and we’re left with No.1’s and No.2’s across the board for the Elite Eight.

-asm

Oh, and I almost forgot… my apologies to Les Miles.

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This just in: the Oklahoma Sooners have put out a hit on Morgan State freshman Ameer Ali.

Let me preface this by saying that when the following event took place, Oklahoma was up around 20-30 points, meaning that the game was signed, sealed, and delivered to Oklahoma’s doorstep.

In the second half of Thursday’s NCAA Tournament game between Oklahoma and Morgan State, Ali and Griffin were fighting for a rebound when the matter got out of hand.

Ali and Griffin went up for a rebound, came down with their arms interlocked, and then both tried to pull themselves free of eachother. Ali apparently felt like he was being harassed by Griffin, because he grabbed Griffin’s arm and dragged the National Player of the Year (by the shoulder) over his body. Griffin did a complete flip before landing on the ground (nearly landing on the back of his neck) and Ameer Ali was ejected immediately.

When I first saw this incident here is what I thought:

  1. Horace Grant's Illegitimate Son Plays for Morgan State

    Horace Grant's Illegitimate Son Plays for Morgan State

    What was Blake Griffin still doing in the game?

  2. Who let Horace Grant play for Morgan State?
  3. Thank god he did not land on his neck.
  4. Oh ****! My bracket!
  5. How can Ameer Ali be stupid enough to literally body slam an opponent directly in front of a referee?
  6. Is Ali crazy? If he hurts Blake Griffin in any way Sooner fans nation-wide will hunt him down and kill him. Why? Because everyone knows that if Blake Griffin goes down, so do the Sooners title hopes.

It’s a shame when a team is getting blown out and doesn’t know how to handle it. No one likes to lose, but with this act Ameer Ali brought losing to a new low. Greg Gumbel called it “easily the bush league play of the tournament so far,” and had Griffin been hurt Ali would have faced some serious repercussions.

It is said that in order to be a great player one must know how to win, but also how to lose. Ameer Ali missed the memo on this life lesson.

Any athlete knows there are times when you just want to beat the hell out of your opponent. Unfortunately, you can’t do it with your fists. If you want to prove a point, do it on the court. If you can’t do it on the court (as Ali couldn’t) then just buck it up, go home, and wait for your next chance.

sk.

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