Oklahoma City is generally regarded as one of the most boring cities in the NBA. There just isn’t a whole lot to do out in OKC, and that’s not a knock on the city itself at all, just reality.
In spite of that, however, there is one source of excitement that figures to provide entertainment in the city for the foreseeable future and that’s the Oklahoma City Thunder, a young, talented squad that appears to be on the cusp of accomplishing big things in OKC.
It’s a process which has its roots in both individual and collective failures in the postseason; a process which is fueled by the stinging finality of postseason eliminations of yesterday and driven by the obsessive need for redemption and validation via a championship.
“There are no shortcuts,” as Cavs’ owner Dan Gilbert gleefully pointed out in his congratulatory tweet to Mavs’ owner Mark Cuban. Championship basketball is a journey in which failure and pain is both a necessary evil and an obstacle to overcome, and the Thunder is currently in the midst of that journey.
The Thunder began their own process two postseasons ago when, as the 8-seed, they engaged in a highly competitive and hard fought six-game series with the Los Angeles Lakers, the defending and eventual champs.
Last postseason, following a 55-win regular season and a Northwest Division title, the Thunder took an even bigger step in their championship process and evolved from being a playoff nuisance to a playoff threat.
The Thunder popped their playoff series’ cherry by knocking out the Denver Nuggets in the first round, and then showed their mettle by eliminating a tough Memphis Grizzlies’ squad in a grueling, physical seven-game Semi-Finals series.
After that, it was on to the franchise’s first Western Conference Finals appearance against Nowitzki and the Mavs, and for the second straight year, the Thunder was eliminated from the playoffs by the eventual NBA champions.
Needless to say, the Thunder is moving in the right direction. With four of their five starters age 23 or younger and valuable postseason experience already under their belts, the future is very bright and exciting for this Thunder squad.
The next step in their process is getting over the hump and evolving into a championship-caliber team. This will happen sooner rather than later if the following things occur for the Thunder.