Oklahoma City Thunder, Oklahoma Sooners

They Didn’t Play For Our Team But We Had Mad Respect For Them Anyway

M. Hofeld


We could make a list that would go on for days about the players we hate. We’ve probably got those guys in every sport and on every level if we’re being honest. What about the guys we respected though. You never stop hating losses but that doesn’t mean you can’t respect the guys who beat you. Here’s our list of players we have mad respect for even though they may have walked off the court/field victorious over our team.


Currently, it’s none other than Sam Ehlinger, the quarterback of the Texas Longhorns. It’s easy to be critical of the mistakes the signal caller has previously made. One of the more crucial moments came during the Big 2018 12 Championship Game as a sack in the end zone. Later, the QB announced “we’re back” after an improbable Sugar Bowl win to close out that year. Needless to say, there are plenty of instances that are synonymous with Ehlinger.

However, the now senior continues to shrug off the criticism and lead the team each and every week. Ehlinger is respected for the tenacity and mental fortitude that few on the collegiate level possess. Stepping onto the field, the signal caller remains prepared to do whatever it takes and it shows.

While I will never root for the Longhorns or more importantly, Ehlinger…I’m consistently impressed by the qualities he displays as an individual.


Kawhi Leonard is a guy I’ve respected on the basketball court since his rookie season in the NBA. I vividly remember watching him guard Kevin Durant in the 2012 Western Conference Finals and thinking to myself, “This guy is going to be a problem in the future.” I didn’t particularly care for the way he handled his departure from San Antonio, and the fact is that nobody but Kawhi actually knows what all was happening with his injury. Regardless, I really enjoyed seeing him lead the Raptors to a championship in his lone season in Toronto, last year especially considering that they knocked off the Golden State Warriors.


I’m going to go with the sport of basketball here and and say Kevin Durant. Not the NBA version of Durant who spurned the Thunder, won championships in Oakland, and then left for Brooklyn because he didn’t feel like he fit in. The college version of KD was much more simpler and, in my opinion, much more special.

Averaging nearly 26 points per game (25.8) and 11 rebounds, Durant was a generational player at Texas. I’ve never bought a ticket solely for the purpose of watching a UT player before but I did that season. I had no idea that Durant would end up playing in Oklahoma City professionally but what I did know was that my only chance to see him play in college was in Norman.

The Sooners were a poorly coached team that played with a ton of heart and the Longhorns had a future NBA All-Star. Of course that game went to Texas. I wanted Oklahoma to pull the upset in a bad way but, even with the loss, walked out of the LNC a bit grateful that I got to watch Kevin Durant in person.


I can’t think think of another player who has had as quiet of an impact on the NBA than Kawhi Leonard. In only his third year in the league he won MVP of the 2014 Finals. 

Years later and after a season off due to injury, Leonard joined the Raptors and led them to a championship and earned another Finals MVP. He became just the third Finals MVP to win the award with two different teams. During the regular season, he averaged a career high 26.6 points per game, but didn’t get mentioned in any regular season MVP conversations. Mainly due to the fact that he only played in 60 games. 

When Kawhi took a season off he was essentially forgotten about. On top of that, he takes more nights off for “load management” than any other superstar in the league. That being said, when he is healthy and on the court, you could argue he is the best in the league. I’ve never cheered for the guy in my life, but you can’t deny his success on the court in such a short time.

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