Russell Westbrook’s Suspension
As expected, Russell Westbrook’s 16th technical foul will not be rescinded by the league — meaning the former MVP must serve a one-game suspension in tomorrow night’s home showdown with the Miami Heat. It sucks, it’s unfortunate, and you hate seeing Russ miss his final match-up with Dwyane Wade (not to mention the Thunder need to, you know, win). But at the end of the day, Westbrook’s emotions got the best of him (16 times) and the team will pay the price on the court. Really not ideal in the stretch run when every game carries a great deal of significance.
For those that missed it, Westbrook’s suspension-earning technical came in the second quarter of last night’s blowout loss to the Golden State Warriors. Upset with a no-call against Klay Thompson, Russ lost his cool and triggered the technical by body-checking Thompson and sharing his thoughts with the nearest official:
It’s an obvious call and there’s not much to be upset about if you’re a Thunder fan. The one-game absence will cost Westbrook nearly $246,000 and he will be subject to another suspension should he reach 18 technicals. If there’s any silver lining here, the suspension will save the Thunder $522,521 toward the luxury tax according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks. You’ll take any positive in a situation like this, I guess.
In any case, it was a total lapse in judgement on Westbrook’s part. He and the Thunder must now hope they can take care of business against Miami without him.
What’s Love’s Got To Do With It?
The Thunder debuted their new-look jerseys on Saturday night against the Warriors — the ones with the over-sized Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores logo stitched to the front. I mean, there it was, in its bright yellow glory, staring out from a piece of clothing you were considering spending $110 on. While it’s silly to get upset about what tank tops your favorite basketballer shoots hoops in, the design was dragged through the streets of Twitter and universally panned by Thunder faithful. Folks aren’t thrilled, to say the least.
To be clear, the Thunder were absolutely right to make the deal. No-brainer, really. As the last NBA organization to monetize their wardrobe, it’s probably something that should have happened a long time ago. The club is eyeballs deep in the luxury tax, and Love’s was willing to pay top dollar to slap a logo on Paul George’s chest. With quite literally every other NBA franchise beating OKC to the punch on this, and the Thunder landing a top-10 deal in terms of financial compensation, it was the obvious and correct move. Some have an issue with sponsor logos on jerseys to begin with, but that’s the wrong hill to die on. Like automation, the ads were always coming for us.
There’s also an idea floating around that Love’s, as a truck stop and convenience store entity, isn’t the sort of logo you want on an NBA jersey. I’ve seen a few “of course Oklahoma’s team is sponsored by a truck stop/gas station” comments, and that’s just low hanging fruit. Trucking is a 700+ billion dollar industry that quietly maintains everyday life, so heaven forbid drivers need reliable places that cater to their needs. Plus, I’ve never been robbed at a Love’s and a lot of them have Subways inside. It’s a fine jersey sponsor and no one needs to be on their high horse about it.
But the design of the patch itself leaves much to be desired. It’s big, it’s bright, and it’s so yellow. It’s just… Love’s. The thing is — a family-owned chain of more than 470 truck stop and convenience stores in 41 states doesn’t have to add a mostly-empty yellow box around the regular logo. They’re such a familiarity in this part of the world that it could say LOVE’S in Times New Roman and get the point across. The typeface and those heart things would have worked just fine. There’s no need to shout.
The Love’s logo on Thunder jerseys has never appeared anywhere else; the company — in conjunction with the Thunder — designed a custom logo for the jersey patches, said Brian Byrnes, the Thunder’s senior vice president of sales and marketing. “One of the things that being last really helped us to do was to coach Love’s on how to optimize this,” Byrnes said. Zach Lowe / ESPN
I don’t want people to be mean to Love’s, and I certainly don’t want the Thunder to feel like no one likes their new shirts, but it leaves you wishing they’d spent more time on the aesthetics. From a promotional standpoint, it’s obvious to make your logo as noticeable as possible. With an investment of this magnitude, it’s not like you can blame Love’s for trying to maximize their returns. But customizing the patches to match the jersey being worn could be a cool thing for fans and the company alike. The Thunder finally have solid alternates in the rotation, and should look for ways to incorporate Love’s into those efforts. Lean all the way into it.
Anyway, none of this matters and I’ve spent far too much time discussing something we’ll all have forgotten in a week. Sports.
Paul George’s Sit Down with Woj
Though Saturday night was a bust from a basketball standpoint, ESPN released an interview with Paul George prior to tip-off — so there was at least that. Below he sits down with Adrian Wojnarowski to discuss staying in OKC, playing with Westbrook, what it means to be MVP, and more. Just some rich, warm, and compelling #content for your Sunday night.
That’s all I have until tomorrow. You guys be nice.