2019-07-01 sp-emigcolumn Durant

Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook (right) and former teammate Kevin Durant go after a ball during a Thunder-Golden State Warriors game in Oklahoma City in 2017. Durant reportedly will sign with the Brooklyn Nets. Tulsa World file

You know who had a worthy week? University of Tulsa athletics.

Last Tuesday morning down on the field at Chapman Stadium, safety Manny Bunch tossed footballs to children age 12 and under to promote TU’s health and wellness initiative “Tulsa Plays!”

“The kids have fun but we have fun as well,” Bunch said. “In football you have the helmet on all the time. For these kids, and even their parents, to see your face so you can introduce yourself, it’s a good experience.”

Saturday night in a Chapman Stadium club overlooking TU’s field, athletic department figures like Derrick Gragg and Jerry Ostroski and Letterman’s Association rep Mark Wojciehowski hosted a 50th anniversary recognition for Gene Shell’s 1969 College World Series runner-up. Voice of the Hurricane Bruce Howard put together a touching video tribute.

A few of the players spoke, as did Shell. Everyone said how much they loved each other, which ought to put a coach’s impact in perspective considering how hard-edged Shell was as a coach, how tough he was on his guys 50 years ago.

The evening could have been awkward for the fact that TU discontinued its baseball program 40 years ago. It wasn’t. Shell encouraged his players to support the university, that hard feelings about something out of their control were wasted feelings.

That’s probably a lesson for us all.

Anyway, here’s a little more on last week...

This made me laugh

Pete Thomas slow-played his son Cody’s chances in the Texas League Home Run Derby last Tuesday night. He tried selling me that Cody was more of a singles hitter in batting practice.

A half hour later Cody was rocketing 10 home runs out of ONEOK Field during his 2½-minute opening round, and I was texting Pete something to the effect of: “Singles hitter huh...”

Mr. Thomas replied with three laughter emojis plus this message: “It must have been that extra biscuit for breakfast.”

This made me think

As Adrian Wojnarowski reported Sunday that Kevin Durant was signing with the Brooklyn Nets, this tweet appeared on @ThunderMaven’s timeline “KD is a cupcake! He’s still the same guy who came up short while having a 3-1 lead (reference: the Thunder-Warriors 2016 Western Conference Finals) and joined the team that came back on him. That is never changing.”

You know what else apparently isn’t changing? The childish saltiness of select Thunder fans over Durant’s bailing on Oklahoma City.

I could sympathize with this once, but it has been three years. Now it has also been three teams.

If it makes you feel better crap-talking Durant on his way to Brooklyn, have at it. Feels to me more like misplaced resentment, seeing as how a team with Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Steven Adams can’t win a playoff series.

And this made me think

Mike Boynton hired Tulane video assistant Cannen Cunningham for his Oklahoma State basketball staff last Tuesday. Cunningham, you might have heard, is the older brother of Cade Cunningham, a five-star prep school senior who lists OSU among his top 10 college choices.

Did Boynton add Cannen to help sign Cade? Of course he did. Should we be outraged at such devilishness? Sure ... if this was 1959.

On the list of “Things Wrong with College Basketball,” hiring the relative of a hot-shot prospect checks in at No. 1,959.

The NCAA could have stamped out this stuff in, oh, 1983, the year Larry Brown hired Danny Manning’s dad to deliver Manning, and an eventual national championship, to Kansas. Instead it did nothing, probably because it was too busy chasing its tail between point-shaving scandals at Boston College and Tulane.

Point-shaving? That’s worth Level 1 outrage. But staff-packing? Please.

(Postscript: Cannen Cunningham played basketball at SMU from 2011-15. His coach the last three years there? Brown.)

This made me cry

I have referenced the Youngstown, Ohio, newspaper The Vindicator since 2001, the year I started covering OU football for the Norman Transcript. It was always a helpful source of Stoops family history, and kept me updated on Bob and Mike’s annual June Youngstown homecoming for the Cardinal Mooney High School football camp/bocce fundraiser.

Last Friday, The Vindicator, citing rising costs and declining revenue, announced it would cease publication Aug. 31.

I have read that newspaper since 2001. Youngstown citizens have read it since 1869.

Guerin Emig

918-629-6229

guerin.emig@tulsaworld.com

Twitter: @GuerinEmig

 

 

Sports Columnist

Proud father of Gretchen and Holden. Devoted husband to Christy, who has been my best friend since biology class at Booker T. Washington. I covered the Oklahoma Sooners for 15 years. That was both challenging and rewarding. Now I get to write columns.