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Thunder Journal: Summer of Shai

Thunder Journal: Summer of Shai

Here’s what Shai Gilgeous-Alexander did over his summer break:

1. Named All-NBA First Team.

2. Finished #5 in NBA MVP voting.

3. Named GQ's Most Stylish NBA Player.

4. Got engaged to longtime girlfriend Hailey Summers.

5. Led Canada Basketball to a Paris 2024 Olympics berth.

6. Led Canada Basketball to their first-ever FIBA World Cup medal.

Here’s what I did over my summer break:

1. Took a day trip to Tulsa.

2. Treated myself to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem in one of those fancy theatres where you can order food from your seat.

3. Caught up on my shows. The Bear is as great as advertised. The Justified reboot badly misses Walton Goggins.

4. Earned some serious Dutch Bros rewards.

5. Just filling space here…

6. …until I have the same number of accomplishments as SGA.

Obviously, I win the head to head matchup because Shai has to pay for every 10th Iced Campout Cold Crew he drinks.

But OKC’s new era superstar had himself a pretty solid summer as well. The FIBA World Cup was the only game in town, err the world, and Shai shone brighter than any hooper from any country.

The daily SGA highlight reels were cranked out by every major hoops and sports social media account. Fans worldwide filled the replies, marveling at the moves Thunder fans have become accustomed to over the past several years. The SGA hype reached a fever pitch when he outplayed Luka Doncic as Canada defeated Slovenia and grew even louder after Shai’s clutch heroics in the Bronze medal win over Team USA.

Zach Lowe said it this way on the most recent The Lowe Post: “I think what Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has done is one of the biggest NBA stories of the off-season. He was so freaking good. If you haven’t been paying attention Thunder fans, to me this whole summer was SGA announcing: ‘Oh not only was it real, there’s more coming.’”

SGA was asked after he led Canada to the Bronze medal over the USA team if he was the best player in the tournament. Shai’s response: “I don’t know, you tell me.”

Challenge accepted.

Any of the basketball junkies like myself who stayed up late to watch 3:30am central time FIBA games to watch Josh Giddey (shout out to FIBA’s Rising Star) play with Australia, take an hour nap and wake up to watch SGA and Lu Dort play with Canada will tell you that Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was hands down the tournament’s best player.

Steve Kerr would concur.

The head coach of Team USA had one singular strategy that everyone watching heard on a loop every time the FIBA camera crew dipped into a huddle: “Blitz Shai. Trap Shai. Ignore literally everyone else but Shai.”

Okay, I’m paraphrasing. But truly, it’s not far off from Kerr’s actual verbiage. Just stop Shai. And they couldn’t do it. They threw double teams at SGA all game long. And Shai made the right play every single time. He finished with 31 points, 12 assists and 6 rebounds and hit every big bucket down the stretch and in overtime. The game featured Anthony Edwards, Mikal Bridges, Jalen Bruson, Austin Reaves, Walker Kessler, Josh Hart and Tyrese Haliburton on the opposing squad and yet there was zero doubt that SGA was the greatest talent on the court.

“We tried everything.”

That was Kerr’s shoulder shrug emoji answer when asked postgame about SGA. Rumor has it he was spotted on his phone in the parking lot afterwards calling up Draymond Green, convincing him to come play defense in Paris in 2024.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had himself a summer to remember. And now Thunder fans can’t wait to see what he does for a Fall, Winter and Spring encore.