“Easy to dream a dream, but harder to live it.” – Wale “Ambition”
They are not ready but when is greatness ever prepared for. They are flawed but such is every man who walks this surface. Can the Oklahoma City Thunder really acquire one of professional
sports most difficult prizes? Can this young team in the middle of virtually nowhere seize a crown reserved for the unconquerable?
It is too early in these young gunners career to believe they truly understand what they are chasing, yet they play with an arrogance that can no longer go ignored. It is one thing to desire greatness it is another thing to expect it.
Prior to the 2010-2011 season many thought the Thunder would be a good team capable of causing some havoc in the playoffs, but few thought they would go that deep in the postseason so soon. Then fate presented OKC with an opportunity that they themselves would admit they were not fully prepared for.
The No.1 seeded San Antonio Spurs ran into the eighth-seeded Memphis Grizzlies. The Grizzs were one of the few teams who could match up favorably with the Spurs and consequently took the series from San Antonio in six games. It was this win that would thrust the Thunder to the Western Conference Finals and into a world they were not prepared for.
After losing to the eventual world champion Dallas Mavericks it became fashionable to suggest the Thunder would compete for a title, but did anyone believe they would be this good. Could anyone ever imagine they would play with such swagger and freedom? You are lying if you claim you did.
Armed with the best record in the Western Conference and tied for the second best record in the league, it is still hard to fathom these young gunners are this sharp. As the season nears its halfway point there
should be no further convincing needed in anointing the best team in the Western Conference and it is a two horse race for the title of best team in the league.
Front if you want to but no one could have imagined the Thunder would be this far ahead of the curve and the competition this early. Few teams have looked this fluid on offense and only the Miami Heat rival OKC’s flair on the floor. The Thunder fly from end to end and make one question the
phrase “no player can move faster than the basketball.”
Kevin Durant’s squad’s confidence is what's separating them from the pack and has them actually
believing they will win the title. As a whole OKC is not a strong defensive team as they rank 20th in points allowed and 14th in defensive efficiency, yet they are active and long. Their length creates problems for opposing teams to move the ball and get off shots; the Thunder lead the league in blocked shots and are ranked 16th in steals.
However, let us not play games here. Offense is where they exert their primal basketball superiority.
Currently they rank third in the league in scoring and second in the all so important offensive rating. It is abundantly clear they shoot first and last, basically it is on you to keep up. Thus far no one has been able to keep pace.
It is almost like each player has managed to flourish where the other is weak, almost a ying for their yang. Durant is strong in scoring and leadership but is suspect at facilitating and on defense. In contrast, Westbrook has become better at initiating the offense and is one of the best on-the-ball defenders in the league. Kendrick Perkins is slower than a three-legged turtle and could not block a friend request on Facebook. Conversely, Serge Ibaka is a gazelle who can throw your shot back in time.
Everything has fallen into place for the Thunder and they have been preparing since last season’s unceremonious end for this run. OKC’s rise to prominence this season is poetic justice for those who refused to buy King Stern’s claims of small-market inferiority. The little town that could has picked up the baton that the San Antonio Spurs and Indiana Pacers left for them. The Thunder have shown that owners with short arms and deep pockets cannot only compete, but they can win in the NBA.
What Oklahoma City has managed to do directly after a lockout should be saluted from Watts to Hempstead and hailed in the fly over states.
The very fact that Indiana, Orlando, San Antonio and Memphis can all boast about being competitive virtually drown out Ruler David’s cries of brokenness. These teams, along with OKC, have proven basketball always has been and always will be about talent. The team that scouts the best and drafts the best will always compete, but winning a title now, that is a different story.
This brings us back to these young gunners who have taken over the league, blazing through each opponent leaving no doubt who the better team is. They have lost back-to-back games once this
season and responded to that mishap by running off seven straight victories and winning 11 out of their next 13. This group appears focused and ready for championships (as in more than one)..
As well as the Thunder have played one still cannot help but wonder if they can elevate when levitation is needed. Can Oklahoma City really hoist the Larry O’ Brien trophy? Will Durant set up his teammates when it matters most or will he continue his trend of more turnovers than assists? Will Russell Westbrook’s play mirror his aspiration to be great or will he just appear selfish yet again? Will Kendrick
Perkins and Serge Ibaka find a way to stop opposing bigs from building condominiums in the paint late in games or will they just fill out the rental applications for residency?
The answer to these questions will go unknown until playoff time. What is certain now is OKC has delivered on the promise to be great. This season has given us all reason to not just say we think they can win but to believe this group and this city can be champions.
Throughout history so many promising careers and players have fell short of perceived imminent greatness. The Thunder have not only avoided this pitfall but they smacked the fire out of anyone who may have pondered it.
As the season goes forward we all need to respect the Thunder for their ambition to be champions and for transferring that dream into expectancy. In life we all chase greatness but only a select few
honestly expect to obtain it. OKC has proven their talent is limitless and their dream is now a goal. The excuses of small-town proximity that have been bestowed upon them have fallen on deaf ears.
Can the Oklahoma City Thunder win an NBA title? Yes, simply because they play like they expect to and that alone should make us all believe they will.