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Rolling Thunder: Durant Leads Oklahoma City To First NBA Finals Trip In Franchise History
- Updated: June 6, 2012
“Are you sure you’re only 23 years old?” Ernie Johnson of TNT asking Western Conference champion, Kevin Durant. The question, so simple, yet so complicated to understand. How is a 23-year-old, defeating last year’s NBA Champion? The Kobe-led Los Angeles Lakers? The best team in the league this year, San Antonio Spurs? Well, Durant will be the first to tell you, he’s not doing it alone.
In only their fourth season of existence in Oklahoma City the Thunder have drastically improved from a team that won 23 games in their first season, to being the 2012 Western Conference Champions. It would take to long to compliment the Thunder management and front office on everything. They should be commended for their draft picks, signings, and trades (Derek Fisher to be exact), as well as putting a great coaching staff together.
Every year the Thunder have heard critics and most of those calls have been answered. Almost every significant player had some knock on them: Westbrook, selfish? Game manager. Ibaka, shot blocker? Rebounder and game changer. Durant, scorer? Closer. Harden, spark plug? Sixth Man of the Year.
So for every knock, there’s been an answer, it’s been answered with Thunder.
After finding themselves in a quick 2-0 hole, head coach Scott Brooks had to find a way to bring their team’s willpower back to the mindset. At halftime, everyone was booking flights back to San Antonio for Game 7, except Kevin Durant. His first-half ending three-pointer was a sign of things to come as he went 4-8 from three-point range, and had 34 points to go along with 14 rebounds.
The Thunder trailed by 15 at halftime but it was Durant’s leadership, along with Derek Fisher’s veteran knowledge, and Westbrook’s maturity which led them on the comeback route. As head coach Scott Brooks said following Game six, it is “first to four, but one game at a time” in every series.
A leader isn’t just someone who puts up all the numbers, which although Durant did, he also showed his desire to win, playing all 48 minutes in the series-clinching win.
Hats off to the San Antonio Spurs who had one of the most impressive runs in recent NBA history, but as it became true to everyone watching, the “young guns” were simply too much to handle for the veteran Spurs.
The toughest battle may have been won by Oklahoma City Thunder, but now they await the war of an NBA Finals series. Whether it be the Celtics or the Heat, the Thunder have wins against both teams during the regular season.
Ironically enough, the Thunder’s first season in Oklahoma City they went 23-59, now their being led to the NBA Finals by a 23 year-old scoring champ. He has proved himself as one of the best, if not the best, closer in the NBA today.
The Thunder have been battled tested throughout this entire playoff run, and it might take a lightning strike to stop them. Then again, lightning comes with the Thunder, just ask Russell Westbrook.