I was out of pocket most of yesterday traveling, so that’s a big reason I missed a few things. Most notably, this terrific love letter to the Thunder from Etan Thomas on HoopsHype. The whole thing is just magnificent: “The fans are amazing. Like nothing, I have ever seen before. We had great fans in DC, don’t get me wrong. But the Oklahoma City fans gave the entire team a standing ovation for about 20 minutes after the playoff loss to the Lakers. I never heard anyone boo us no matter how bad we played. They were with us win lose or draw. In good times and bad times, it was really similar to a college atmosphere. I felt like I was back at Syracuse, although the Carrier Dome is one of a kind. The team fed off of that energy and it gave us a boost out there. The guys talked about it all the time and appreciated the support. I think a lot of times, the fans can make a bad situation worse by the way they react.”
Oklahoma City’s NBA Jam roster has Russell Westbrook, Jeff Green and Kevin Durant with special player Rumble. No surprises there really, though I was really pulling for a late push from Serge Ibaka. My quick take: Underrated NBA Jam roster, mainly because of Westbrook. Durant is pretty thin and might get shoved around (literally), but someone like Westbrook could be dominant. Fast, strong and explosive at the rim. Rumble might not be a ton of help though as we’ve seen he tends to struggle with finishing dunks.
Patrick Crawley of Neon Tommy with more on KD: “On a day when LeBron James was in Washington, D.C. relaxing and cheering on “his” Dallas Cowboys, Kevin Durant was half a world away, in Istanbul, putting the finishing touches on Team USA’s first world basketball championship in 16 years. While the reigning NBA MVP was trash tweeting and carrying on, the leader of America’s so-called “B-Team” was hoisting the FIBA world championship MVP trophy. And in that moment a shift was made. In leading Team USA to the FIBA world title, and setting all kinds of scoring records in the process, Durant made the leap from star to elite-level MVP contender. With that gold medal hanging from his neck, the 21-year-old Durant is no longer an echelon below King James and Kobe Bryant. He’s breathing down their necks.”
Former Team USA architect Sonny Vaccaro: “Kevin is the youngest of them all,” says Vaccaro. “It’s not like his year under Coach [Rick] Barnes at Texas made him who he is. He’s had these skills forever! He’s the same great kid who played for some Washington AAU team a few summers ago.”
Fran Blinebury of NBA.com writing about James Harden: “There were plenty of times last season when James Harden could have wondered what it was like to be a rookie getting all of the big headlines. After all, he saw Brandon Jennings drop in his eye-popping double nickels that were replayed endlessly on SportsCenter and he saw Tyreke Evans get enough opportunities with the ball in his hands to take home the Rookie of the Year trophy. What he also saw was room to grow.”
Ira Winderman on 2012: “For three weeks, Kevin Durant was the best player in the world, with what he accomplished in Turkey. Without Durant, it is possible the U.S. returns from Istanbul without any type of medal. And by the end of the competition, an argument could be made that Russell Westbrook was as effective as any point guard on the roster. But that doesn’t mean that USA Basketball fielded anything close to its best roster for this competition. And it is undeniable that most of the competition also fielded something less than its A-list, what with Russia lacking Kirilenko, France lacking Parker, Argentina lacking Ginobili, Spain lacking Pau Gasol and Brazil lacking Nene.”
HoopsWorld says Erick Dampier should come to OKC: “The Thunder addressed that issue in the draft by trading for Cole Aldrich, a center from Kansas who has been one of the best big men in the NCAA for the past three years. The Thunder is currently banking on Aldrich’s addition, Nenad Krstic and the continuing development of Serge Ibaka, to be enough for the team to take the next step forward in the Western Conference. That may be too much of a risk to take in a year where so much is expected of them though. That’s why Dampier makes perfect sense.”
Dime debating who’s better: Derrick Rose or Russell Westbrook: “Rose wins in the offensive category no doubt, but with Westbrook’s size, speed and strength — along with his ability to lead a team and never take a night off on the defensive side of the ball — he gets the nod as the better all-around point guard here in my book. The facts say it all; defense wins championships.”