Maybe when you're from Fort Madison, Iowa, and you travel down the road to Iowa City to go to college, maybe, just possibly, you're not the best barometer to decide if a city is "cool" or not.
But Ryan Bowen, the 10-year NBA veteran, who managed to hide all 6 foot 9 inches of himself at the end of the Oklahoma City Thunder bench on a nightly basis before getting waived last month, had something to say about Oklahoma City.
"I couldn't really tell you what the cool scene is like around here, but I have to say that I do like Oklahoma City," he said. "It's great."
Take that, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Miami. You've got your restaurants and your South Beach, your culture, counterculture and re-birth of slickness. But we had Ryan Bowen from Iowa.
He said Oklahoma City is cool.
Too bad it's the other end of the argument that seems to be getting the press, the tweets and the talk.
It was little more than a month ago when Tony Durant, the younger brother of Thunder star player Kevin Durant, decided to contribute to the World Wide Web by tweeting how he was "chillin in wack ass OKC." Tony Durant went on to offer a sentimental touch, showing his sensitive side when he tweeted how he missed his "big sis" and said, "I wish I was at home with yall instead of Oklahoma Shitty."
Is Oklahoma City that bad or is Tony Durant just upset his brother is the star? Well, Tony, for a time at least, has been the talk of the town. Message boards on OKCtalk.com were devoted to the ramblings of a guy who got upset because he wasn't allowed to wear a hood on his head inside the mall.
Tony's tweets are no longer available for public consumption, as he has blocked his page, thus making him unavailable. Kevin Durant was also unavailable for comment, but a number of other Thunder players, as well as players from the Orlando Magic who were in town to play the Thunder earlier in November, made their opinions known.
"Don't ask me. I don't do shit," said Orlando guard Brandon Bass. "I'm the dullest person around."
OK, so Bass isn't exactly in line to be the next promotions manager for the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, but he did live here for two years. He played on the New Orleans Hornets team that relocated to Oklahoma City. He smiles wide, is friendly and laughs a lot. He seems like he's being honest.
"If I was to go out, this isn't the kind of place I'm into," he said. "When I lived here, it was cool, but the road is for all that other stuff. Ask the rest of the guys here. You'll find out they don't really like it here. You're not going to find a lot of guys who love this place.''
You mean, beside Ryan Bowen?
Because there are others. Well, at least they say they like it, and why would NBA players do anything but tell the truth? For example, take Orlando's Mickael Pietrus. He was born in Les Abymes, Guadeloupe, a French Caribbean island; has been in the league since 2003; and played in San Francisco and Orlando. He's worldly. Well-traveled. Presumably cultured.
"It's always fun to come and learn about new cities," he said, making Oklahoma City look more like a research stopover than a club hot spot. "But from what I can tell, it's great here. I like it, and I like places like this."
No word on whether Pietrus stopped off in the public library before the game. If he did, he wouldn't have seen his teammate Ryan Anderson there, who was probably checking out Gary England's five-day forecast.
"To me, a lot of it is about weather," he said. "If it's warmer, there are more good-looking girls. And when it's colder, you just don't see that much. There are some cities where you just know it's cool to go out and have a good time. This place seems laid-back."
OK, so Anderson didn't exactly go all Tony Durant on us. At least Tony didn't say the girls were ugly here, and at least Anderson didn't say the place was wack. In fact, Tony Durant later backed off his comments when he responded to a question posed to him by DailyThunder.com: "No, OKC is great. I love it here "¦ I'm just a little homesick that OKC is my home."
But the question is, is Oklahoma City cool?
"It is," said Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook.
And he would know. The star player went to school at UCLA: home of Hollywood, The Viper Room and $17 martinis. What's cooler than that?
"It's a little slower here, but real chill and calm," he said.
CHILL AND CALM
And certainly chill and calm must be better than wack.
"Hey, my family likes it here," said Thunder coach Scott Brooks, who looks more like your average CPA than your typical NBA coach. He's short. His hair sticks up. He doesn't show off in fancy suits. Then again, he's from Lathrop, Calif., just south of Sacramento, which will never be confused with San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego or cool.
"It's a great family environment," Brooks said. "We have lots of fans behind us every night, and our players seem to like it. It's not L.A. or New York, and if you want to go out and do that stuff, you might not be right for our team. I complain about other things. It's windy and there's tornadoes."
OK, so saying Oklahoma City is windy isn't an insult. Plus, the whole tornado thing is pretty standard fare as far as criticism goes. Certainly Brooks gets a pass for that, but can anyone really refute Tony Durant?
"Definitely a great place," said Kevin Ollie, who could wallpaper his place with all the jerseys from the different teams he's played for. Ollie has been in the league for 12 years and has played for 12 teams. He might not know cool, but he definitely knows the geography of the NBA.
"Everything I need is here. I'm not saying it's equivalent to L.A. or Miami or New York, but what we need is here. OK, so maybe there's not the clubs or stuff like that, but if that keeps us home a little more, maybe that means some more sleep." "Andrew Gilman