Now If you were a fan the Seattle Supersonics maybe you didn’t relocate your love when the team ditched town. If you did , You loved the idea of having a superstar talent in Kevin Durant on the squad. Even more elated when they drafted the ball of fire that is Russell Westbrook in the first year as the Thunder. Within eight total seasons together they reached two conference championships and one Finals appearances , to which they lost to the likes of Lebron James & crew. Both perennial All-stars , and both arguably in the conversation of top 5 players in the league.
The narrative on the Thunder not being capable of winning a title was that their “number 2 guy” was taking a bulk of the shots. Thus costing them games and hindering the potential of Kevin Durant. On the surface both players resented this idea that they couldn’t play together and even stated that all the outside criticism made their relationship stronger. But at the core of the teams struggles couldn’t be masked despite the constant denials.
The PROBLEM was that Russell Westbrook being the ultimate competitor that he is often compromised the teams success by taking bad shots and plagued by turnovers in clutch time. Those that watched the Thunder implode during the 16′ Western Conference Finals saw evidence of this , but Russell is not deserving of all the blame for such a collapse. Kevin Durant was entering the final year of his contract with the team and it was decided that he would no longer play alongside is compatriot Westbrook. In fact he would join the team that sent them packing in the 16′ playoffs.
As a fan of the team this created such a divide that made people question the loyalty of others as well as their own. Maybe you were a fan because of KD , maybe you were a fan of Russell , or maybe you just lived in OK and relished the opportunity of having a NBA franchise. To put it plainly KD had forged a gap between an array of fans of not only the team but the sport as a whole. We as the public witnessed their “friendship” deteriorate with every passing interview that both parties conducted. It was clear that Russell was more effected by KD’s defection , and even more apparent that there was no coming back from the slight.
Which brings us to last night’s game. I got home from work just in time to catch the second half. The score was even at 56 a piece , and I was delighted to see that the Warriors had not already run away with it. I mean we all know they are marginally better and the game being played in Oakland and all. As the third quarter got rolling so did the home team which finished the quarter with zero turnovers after tallying 13 in the first half. The thunder keeping the game close showed life being lead by their MVP candidate , who at this point had already accounted for a triple-double. It was at the seven and a half minute mark where the team lost the game. Russell Westbrook was called for a travelling violation while bringing the ball up the floor taking six steps. It appeared that the ref didn’t want to call the travel since no-one was guarding him and the travel was unnecessary , but as the opposing players lobbied for the call he had no choice. At the time the Warriors were only up three points but the very next possession the Thunder give up a jumper to Klay Thompson. This was surprisingly only his second field goal of the game. Russell then forces a pass into traffic that is stolen by Stephen Curry and turned into an easy corner three by Thompson. Timeout Thunder , the Warriors lead is now eight and they would not relinquish the lead for the rest of the night. You may be thinking an eight point deficit an be overcome with a whole quarter left to play but not when the Russell starts to press. With 4:53 left in the third Warriors up by seven. The nuclear athleticism is put on display as Russell gets free off a screen and drives towards the basket and lays down a Thunderous jam with Kevin Durant in the frame. THIS is why we love Russell , he has no reserve tank he’s always full throttle ! Some dunk the ball with authority but Russell attempts to dismember the rim from glass on every attempt ! The competitor/trash talker in him provokes him to tell Kevin Durant “don’t jump!” To which KD responds on the next sequence with a triple. Three will always be greater than two. The ingredient of Golden States winning recipe.
On the next two offensive possessions Russell sensing the game becoming out of reach jacks up two terrible 3-point attempts. One from about four feet beyond the arc in an attempt to draw a foul call. And the other being guarded straight up by the Warriors best perimeter defender in Thompson. Both shots involved little to no ball movement and the deficit extended to 12 points. There was no coming back from what continues to curse Westbrook’s game. Fans of the player and team should know of the games that he tallies 10+ turnovers the teams 3-2 over the past five years but can’t be happy with their point guard being the reason they don’t eventually win a championship.