We all might think basketball is really important, but take a step back if you can and have a look at this. One Thunder fan is riding 140 miles via bicycle from Tulsa to OKC to raise money for multiple sclerosis. Anything donated goes 100 percent to MS research and on top of that, American Airlines has agreed to match any contributions. Joseph said he plans on wearing a KD jersey or maybe even a DT-Shirt with something clever printed on it. So if you’ve got ideas, share away. Or if you’ve got the ability, maybe drop a dollar or two Joseph’s way as well.
I already linked it with my international basketball thing Friday, but Rob Mahoney of Hardwood Paroxysm wrote a darn near poetic piece on the Thunder: “Of course, Durant is but one reason why the Thunder have captivated NBA audiences. They’re young and new, and like it or not, hip. They’re athletic and dynamic, from Russell Westbrook’s jams to Serge Ibaka’s swats. Their success is somehow bizarre, improbable, and yet all part of the plan. They’re 50-win underdogs, tightly knit with an old-school, one-goal fabric, but envisioned with modern basketball sensibilities. There is, really and truly, nothing quite like the Thunder.”
Henry Abbott has 10 things to watch in the World games: “The kick-off of Kevin Durant’s MVP campaign: Kevin Durant won the offseason with a hassle-free contract renewal, undying loyalty to his teammates and fantastic play on the international team in warm-ups to this tournament. Now the scoring-challenged American team will look for him to be as dominant with the ball as ever. Paul Pierce once dominated the ball on an undermanned Team USA squad — at the 2002 World Championships — and the team came in a dismal sixth. If Durant takes over a similarly undermanned Team U.S.A. and wins the Worlds, Durant will waltz into the NBA season with his MVP candidacy stronger than ever.”
The Thunder finished second in ESPN’s team of the decade voting. Chris Sheridan said this: “It comes back to Kevin Durant, my pick for player of the decade, and what a special talent he is. The Thunder have also surrounded him with solid, young, complementary pieces that have only begun to scratch the surface of what they are capable of (especially Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka; I am not as sold on Jeff Green), and they have a great coach who is still young enough to relate to such a young team. If the core sticks together, the sky is the limit — especially over the last five years of the decade.”
Chris Broussard ranks OKC fifth in the league but has some strong words about the Thunder’s new draft pick: “The Thunder like their first-round draft pick, Cole Aldrich, believing he can become something akin to Kendrick Perkins. We don’t agree; Aldrich is very likely to be a stiff. But that still won’t halt the Thunder’s rise. We like the addition of Daequan Cook a bit more. Though he took a major step back last season, Cook is a legit 3-point threat who should strengthen OKC’s bench. Ditto for Morris Peterson.”
Pete Thamel of the New York Times on KD and Team USA: “The projections were correct. This team will go as far as Durant carries it, with Derrick Rose as a capable copilot. Durant has shown confidence in shooting early, and shone against Slovenia by creating offense from defense. The Americans had five first-quarter dunks, some thanks to turnovers and transition.”
John Rohde says it’s hard to know what we’ve learned so far in Turkey with Russ and KD: “When evaluating Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook at the FIBA World Championship in Turkey, it’s difficult to say exactly what we’ve learned after two games. Durant is very good. Westbrook is very athletic. Both of which we already knew.”
SLAM on KD: “Kevin Durant’s personality looks like it has become a defining factor on this team. He passed the ball well, made plays and shot the ball whenever he was in position to take the best shot for the team. Sure enough, the rest of the team seems to be making the extra pass and looking for the best possible shot for the team on each possession. When you’re best player is as unselfish as Durant, it helps to peer pressure everybody else into doing the same thing.”
Want to dislike the Blazers some today? Have a glance at all the comments on Blazers Edge breaking down Thunder v. Blazers. Summary: They have Greg Oden which therefore makes them better.
Our Daily Thunder t-shirt contest ends next Monday so hustle up and travel somewhere and take some pictures. Send anything in to firstname.lastname@example.org.