This picture is perfect when it comes to some of the past greats in Sonics/Thunder history.
Two hard-nosed future Hall of Famers, both who failed to win an NBA title with the organization, but who will be remembered years later for their heart and determination.
With other teams, they continued their evolutions into perennial All-Stars: Payton—otherwise known as "the Glove"—a lock-down defender, and Ray Allen, now the all-time greatest three-point shooter in NBA history.
These two—and eight others—are the perfect veteran players to teach the Thunder youngsters a thing or two.
So who are they?
"The Glove" is one of the most underrated point guards in NBA history.
Not only was he gifted with a mouth that could get under any opposing player's skin, but he could be counted upon in the closing minutes.
He and Shawn Kemp were the major building blocks of the 1996 Finals team that bowed to MJ's Bulls. But most importantly: They got there.
This current Thunder team has yet to ascend into title contention. And until they do, they ought to take a few lessons from players like Gary.
Payton was a gifted offensive player throughout his career. Averaging 16.3 points over his career is impressive, but most impressive was his belief in defense and getting others involved.
Over his career, he compiled 2,445 steals, ranking him fourth on the all-time list, and had a career average of 6.7 assists per game.
I suspect a crash course in defense first, passing second and scoring third from the former Sonics guard would benefit current team point guard and gunner Russell Westbrook.
Nobody in their right mind could ever question Patrick Ewing's heart.
By the time the eleven-time All-Star suited up for the Sonics, he was old and wearing out. But what he brought to the Sonics was a great heart willing to compete, even though his body was breaking.
This would be a nice intangible for a player like Kendrick Perkins, who lacks the wherewithal to get in tip-top shape in order that he might avoid injury.
Over Ewing's sixteen years, he averaged 21.0 points per game, finishing with 24,815 points and nearly 12,000 rebounds for his career.
Shawn Kemp was the life of the party in the 90's.
A human highlight reel, Kemp was best known for his acrobatic and thunderous dunks to cap off a Sonics spurt or victory.
He and Gary Payton were birds of a feather playing with a late 70's flair. But most importantly, Kemp developed the rest of his game and became a somewhat decent outside shooter later in his career.
Though his athleticism was always the major part of his game, Kemp's desire to get better and continue to get better is a lesson worth learning.
The similarities between Kemp and the raw and athletic Serge Ibaka are evident. Ibaka has shown his willingness to work at his offensive game, which reminds Sonic/Thunder fans of the late Kemp.
Kemp finished his career a seven-time All-Star, with per-game averages of 14.6 points and 8.7 rebounds.
Sam Perkins was an incredibly gifted outside-shooting big man.
Had he not been born into a Lakers franchise with superstars like Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul Jabar and James Worthy, Perkins might have rolled into star status himself.
But that is what made Perk so great.
He was the consummate professional with a bigger desire to win championships than personal awards. While with the Sonics, the champion brought veteran leadership.
It was not a coincidence that once Perkins arrived, the team went from a notable first-round playoff bust to a title contender.
Over five-and-a-half seasons with the team, Perk averaged 10.9 points and 3.9 rebounds.
His inside-outside versatility is a worthy lesson for any Thunder big man.
The fourth pick in the 1985 draft, Xavier McDaniel was an explosive swingman with an athleticism like no other. In my opinion the "X-Man" was (until Durant) the best all-around player in franchise history.
In six-and-a-half seasons with the team, McDaniel dropped averages of 20.0 points and 7.1 rebounds. He was invited to the 1988 All-Star game and was a first-team All-Rookie member.
His versatility mixed with bodily strength is something the new great, Durant, might want to pay attention to.
Slick Watts was the cool cat on the block in the 70's with that sideways swag sitting firmly on his head.
In his six seasons with the team, Watts averaged 6.1 assists and 2.2 steals. He was the Gary Payton before Payton, though he had a rather limited offensive game.
His best season came in 1975-1976, when he led the league in both assists and steals. That year, he earned an All-Defensive First Team selection.
If Eric Maynor was listening, I would push him to strive defensively like Slick did.
I'm going to use Vin Baker as a representation of what not to do. But before I do, I still want to honor a player who would arguably have been the best Sonic of all time—if he'd stayed motivated.
The versatile 6'11", 230-pound forward was gifted with an amazing quickness for a player his size and an ability to step out and knock down the jump shot.
When he was motivated, Vin and Glenn Robinson made a dangerous tandem in Milwaukee. Baker was a consummate All-Star and a lock 20-10 guy.
So what happened?
Nobody knows better than Vin.
He started partying hard in Seattle and lost his way to alcoholism. Weight issues persisted and the depressed forward became a figment of our imaginations.
His story is a worthy lesson for the many young Thunder players who have every fruit of the earth at their fingertips. Be wise, be smart and make basketball your biggest addiction.
Ray Allen is the greatest player in Sonics history.
I'm willing to make that assertion because I have the stats to back it. Not only is Ray Allen the greatest shooter in the history of the NBA, but he's also a dangerous all-around offensive threat with a killer's instinct.
Once the former Connecticut prodigy developed a better dribble-speed game, he became nearly impossible to guard.
Now with the Celtics, Allen is a champion and deservedly so.
Over his 15-year career, Ray Allen has compiled career averages of 20.5 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.6 assists. He is a ten-time All-Star and has eclipsed 20,000 career points and 2,612 career three-point field goals.
His unselfish style of play is what ultimately sets Allen apart. Any of the Thunder youngsters should learn a lesson or two from this. Selling yourself to team play like Allen did will ultimately land you a championship.
Before Ray Allen there was the sweet-shooting forward Dale Ellis. Ellis is known as one of the greatest three-point shooters in NBA history, with 1,716 treys for his career.
Knee issues ultimately derailed Ellis in the later 80's. Before that, he was not only a three-point specialist but also a perennial offensive juggernaut.
From 1985-1990, Ellis averaged 25.1 points per game.
Once knee issues slowed him down, Ellis adapted by becoming a spot-shooting three-point aficionado. His ability to hone in and become a supreme at a certain facet increased his career longevity.
If Westbrook or Durant hope to have a long career, they too, at some point, will have to learn the importance of such a truth.
I want to give Tom Chamber some love. Why not? When does the man get any at all?
Why wouldn't he? Over his five years with the Sonics, he dropped All-Star averages of 20.4 points and 6.5 rebounds.
Mullet aside, the man was uber-athletic and gifted with an extreme vertical jump. This culminated into an All-Star game MVP award in 1987, when he blew up for 34 points.
His career ended with four All-Star appearances, two All-NBA team memberships and career numbers of 18.1 points and 6.1 rebounds.