Steve's Thunder Notes: Shocked and Stunned
No way would he leave Oklahoma City now, this team is so close to winning a championship, I kept saying that to myself over and over.
No doubt about it when the news hits on July 4th, I was blown away by Kevin Durant's choice to leave a winning franchise and join the team that just denied him a potential NBA Title.
Picking the Warriors is the crusher, I could understand wanting to go home and play in D.C., but Golden State? - reading the countless stories on the decision, The West Virginia Icon (Jerry West) and Golden State's star power sealed the deal in the Hamptons. He can sell a few more Nike's by the Bay too.
If I pounded out a few words in a blog on the day of the announcement, it probably wouldn't have been pretty, 48 hours later I feel a little better after the gut-punch on the 4th. I was fortunate enough to cover Oklahoma City this past season and it's hard not to get emotionally involved with the team you're covering in some small way. To be honest, I still remember the painful feeling after the Thunder lost to Dallas in the 2011 Western Conference Finals, that was a tough one but with a positive belief, because you realized this team had potential to compete for titles.
I grew up a Blazers fan, so I know all about the what if's and what could have been's (Walton-injuries) (Sam Bowie over Jordan) (Arvidas Sabonis-stayed overseas during his prime years) (Brandon Roy-injuries) (Greg Oden injuries) (LaMarcus Aldridge departs). Looking at Portland this past season is a good example looking ahead to this season with the Thunder. Terry Stotts and the Blazers got off to a slow start but figured it out with Damian Lillard and a bunch of players that understood their roles and they played it all the way to the Western Conference Semifinals. Portland fans know all about disappointment, but they still pack the Moda Center because they love their Blazers, despite the rash of bad luck. Oklahoma City fans are the same way, some outsiders may question their loyalty if the team slips, but I have zero doubts OKC will stand behind their pro franchise.
Sad to see KD go - he was easy to interview, answered your questions, he understood the process and accepted it graciously. My favorite KD moment was back in 2010. I was setting up the camera for a report outside their practice facility. I was struggling with the setup because the sun kept peaking behind the clouds, so I had to keep adjusting the camera. This car rolls up next me with tinted windows, the window slides down and it was Kevin asking "Do you need any help?" Stupid me, replied "No I'll be alright, thanks for asking." How cool would that have been to have KD behind the camera shooting my report on the Thunder. Missed opportunity - UGH - Sure it feels like a missed opportunity for a Title in OKC, but don't count out Sam Presti and Billy Donovan. I'm still trying to figure out how Sam was able to trade Serge Ibaka for three to Orlando, GENIUS!