Oklahoma City Thunder: The 5 Best Moments in Franchise History
Built with a core of young, super-talented players and a serious coaching staff, they have all the tools to become a truly dominant team in the next decade.
Previously located in Seattle, the SuperSonics had some great players and built serious franchise history as they reached the NBA Finals in the 1995-96 with a team built around Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp, eventually losing to Michael Jordan and his Chicago Bulls.
Despite the heroics achieved by their Northwestern predecessors, it's more appropriate to judge the Thunder's best moments from their relocation to the Ford Center in 2008.
Kevin Durant, Western Conference Finals 2011, Game 2 Dunk over Brendan Haywood
First of all, that was just nasty! What was Brendan Haywood thinking when he decided to get in the way of Kevin Durant? If you listen closely through the video, you can listen to the cameras clicking.
Now on a more serious matter, this was a highly significant moment in the young franchise's history. Partly because it was the first time the Oklahoma City Thunder reached a conference finals, and because it was a statement that would mark the rest of the series.
The Thunder eventually won Game 2 on the road and, despite losing the series, they proved to be quite a handful for the Dallas Mavericks, but that's a whole different story.
I guess it's more of a symbolic thing than anything else, but Kevin Durant's dunk represents the bright future ahead for this young and talented team.
2010 Western Playoffs, 1st Round, Game 2
Jeff Gross/Getty Images
Following their 50-win breakout season, the eighth-seeded Thunder had to face the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers.
Prior to the start of the series, this was supposed to be an easy thing for Kobe and the Lakers. But the Thunder proved to be much more than a simple task for Phil Jackson's side.
After winning Game 3 at home, the Thunder had pretty much exceeded everyone's expectations, and avoiding being swept by the Lakers was a decent way to finish their very successful season. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook thought otherwise, though.
After a hard-fought game, Oklahoma City managed a 110-89 win over Los Angeles and the basketball world was shocked after a fairly unknown, flying-under-the-radar team had forced a Game 6 against the defending champions.
Eventually the Thunder were unable to keep their momentum going into the following two games and lost to the soon-to-be NBA champions. However, Game 2 of the first round of the playoffs was the first evidence that the young team from Oklahoma had some serious game.
2011 Playoffs, 1st Round, Game 5
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Following their impressive 2009-2010 season and Kevin Durant's dominant performance at the FIBA world championships, the Oklahoma City Thunder had big expectations to fulfill during the 2010-2011 season.
After holding onto the fourth seed for this year's playoffs, the Thunder now owned homecourt advantage to face the Denver Nuggets.
Kevin Durant dominated this series averaging 32.4 points per game while his teammates also excelled and managed to shut down the recently rebuilt Denver team.
Despite the effort displayed and impressive game the Nuggets played in their fifth meeting, Kevin Durant and the Thunder proved to be too much for them to handle at the moment. With five minutes left to play in the fourth quarter, Durant took over the game in a great clutch performance and took the series home.
It's funny how Durant opened and closed the series dropping 41 points. Let's not get carried away, though. There's more coming from him later.
This game also meant the first playoff series win for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
2011 Western Conference Semifinals, Game 7
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
After the win against Denver, Oklahoma was writing franchise history after advancing past the first round for the first time since the franchise had relocated.
The Thunder faced the Memphis Grizzlies, which had upset San Antonio in the first round in six games. For this series, Oklahoma had homecourt advantage, but still couldn't manage to win in the series opener after a brilliant performance from Zach Randolph.
This series was filled with thrilling moments including two overtime games, one of them going into triple overtime, that resulted in a Thunder win.
After struggling through six games, it all came down to Game 7 at the Ford Center.
At this point, Oklahoma City was already having late-game issues, but still managed to get the victory after another clutch performance from Kevin Durant and a memorable triple-double from Russell Westbrook.
This was a special moment for the franchise as it meant that, not only had it advanced past the first round of the playoffs for the first time, but it was now a conference finalist.
2007 NBA Draft
Chris McGrath/Getty Images
This is, in my opinion, the biggest day for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Period.
Had they chosen to pick, say, Al Horford, or Joakim Noah, they'd still be a pretty good team, but nowhere as near as good as they are today. Kevin Durant is, by far, the best player from that year's draft class.
He couldn't bench at the pre-draft camp? Who cares! At least he has played more than 82 combined games throughout his career (sorry Portland!).
By being wise and thoughtful about their decision, the Oklahoma City Thunder had their biggest moment in franchise history when David Stern announced their pick at Madison Square Garden.
Durant has carried the team to two consecutive 50-plus win seasons and reached the Western Conference Finals in 2011. He has also won the scoring title for two consecutive seasons. Oh, and just keep in mind that the guy is just about to turn 23.
To further up things a bit more, Durant was also awarded the 2010 FIBA World Championship MVP after carrying USA to the gold medal.
This is simply the most grand moment in franchise history as they secured themselves a franchise player for the following decade.