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Don’t forget to call your dad Sunday for Father’s Day. Your dad may be cool, but he’s not as cool as my dad. That’s no slight on your father, though. Just goes to show how awesome mine is. Happy Father’s Day, Dad.
Anyway, this seems like an appropriate time to explore the best “Who’s your daddy?!” moments from the 2010-11 Thunder season. Oklahoma City may be one of the youngest teams in the league, but that doesn’t stop Thunder players from occasionally physically dominating opponents to the point of embarrassment. And the run to the Western Conference Finals shows only Dallas has regional bragging rights over the Thunder. Everyone else is looking up to the Thunder, hoping to ascend to the same height next season — but also fearing, one might think, that OKC is set up for a potentially long run as the West’s daddy.
So let’s take a look at the top five moments from the season when a Thunder player made an opponent look like a helpless child.
5. Serge Ibaka is Tyson Chandler’s daddy
Yes, I’m fully aware that not only did Oklahoma City lose this game, but only just a couple of weeks ago lost in the WCF to Chandler and the Mavericks. Who cares? We’re talking about moments here, not the grand scheme of things. A little bit of luck and a nice gesture led me to have fantastic seats to this game on Dec. 27, and this play happened right in front of me. My jaw dropped. Blocks like this don’t happen that often. Also, you could add this to the list of things that lead Mrs. Patrick James to like Ibaka more than me. That and ESPN The Magazine “Body Issue.” She’d dump me in a heartbeat if Serge came calling, and in less than a heartbeat if Serge came calling shirtless.
Anyway, this is a good way to start this short countdown. This is the kind of play when, as they ran down the court afterward, Ibaka could have (and probably should have) screamed at Chandler, “Who’s your daddy?!” And he would have done it with his endearing accent. (Another thing on Mrs. James’ list.)
4. James Harden is J.J. Hickson’s daddy
I devoted an entire column to this moment, more or less, back in December. Harden isn’t only Hickson’s daddy after this dunk, but also all of Hickson’s living family members and probably his senior prom date, too. Perhaps even whoever Hickson had a crush on in kindergarten. Maybe even the last person who delivered a pizza to Hickson’s house. Most everyone Hickson has ever met, spoken to or made eye contact with, in fact.
Yeaaaahhh (nodding). Yeaaaahhh (nodding). Yeaaaahhh (nodding).
3. Kevin Durant is the Nuggets’ daddy
There are three main things I’ll always remember about the Thunder’s series-clinching Game 5 win over the Nuggets: the great crowd, Durant’s mesmerizing performance in the closing minutes and my large Texan friend trying to get his jacket after the game. As we were heading for the Loud City escalators among the rambunctious fans, my buddy realized he left his jacket in his seat. He tried to head back to his section, but the mass of celebrating fans heading the opposite direction made that difficult. He decided yelling, “EMERGENCY! EMERGENCY!” would get people to make way. He was right. Everyone got out of the way of the big Texan guy yelling at the top of his lungs.
Back to KD. The Thunder were down late. OKC had already blown a chance to close out the series. A Nuggets win would mean a Game 6 in Denver, which I guarantee you most every Thunder fan, at the time, thought would mean a nail-biting Game 7 in Oklahoma City with no momentum for the home team. So Durant simply decided that wasn’t going to happen. He almost single-handedly got the Thunder back into the game, put OKC into the lead and stopped Denver from retaking it. It was the first time he truly took over the end of a playoff game, and it will certainly not be the last. Who’s your daddy, Denver? For one night, at least, KD was.
2. Russell Westbrook is Shane Battier’s daddy
This dunk is probably still my favorite of the season. KD’s dunk on Haywood, seen and described below, ranks higher on this list because of the moment, and because it, too, was stupefyingly awesome and made me jump off my couch with surprise and glee. But the reason I like it a little better is because of Westbrook’s reaction, which is the closest to a “Who’s your daddy?!” reaction by the player himself as you’ll get on this list. There’s the banshee scream, and then there’s the strutting. There’s also the reaction of the Rockets’ player who was so physically moved by the dunk’s ferocity, he actually got out of his chair and had to play it off like he was switching seats with a teammate. Allow me to translate what Westbrook meant by the scream and the walk.
“My testicles are phenomenally large, as evidenced by the dunk you just witnessed and by the fact I must walk with my legs spread wide to avoid crushing them with my thighs. My testicles also supplied half of Shane Battier’s DNA, which I realize you may think is impossible because he’s older than me, but I assure you, it’s true. Shane, go to your room, son. You’re grounded.”
1. Kevin Durant is Brendan Haywood’s daddy
So nasty. Haywood just won a ring, but this is still the most memorable moment of his postseason. And Durant did say a little something to Haywood as he got up. Probably something a little more fierce than, “Who’s your daddy?!” even. It earned him a tech, if I recall correctly. I don’t remember because I blacked out for a minute after the dunk.
This is on the list of defining moments of the Thunder’s postseason along with the fifth game of the Denver and Memphis series. I know at least five people who had a picture of it as their computer wallpaper or phone background. It was the spark in the only game OKC managed to win against Dallas. It’s one of the best postseason dunks in recent memory and perhaps all time. Durant dominated Haywood so thoroughly on this play, I’m surprised the refs didn’t make Haywood wear a gimp suit and ball gag for the rest of the game. He saw Blake Griffin’s posterization of Timofey Mozgov and raised him an actual touch of the rim.
There will be more of these moments in the future — and hopefully not far in the future, so long as the owners and player’s union can agree to labor terms and not deprive us of part or all of a season during what is almost surely a new golden era in the NBA. And we wouldn’t want the rest of the Western Conference, and hopefully soon the rest of the NBA, to be deprived of their daddies. The beastly young Thunder players have a whole lot of fathering to do in their blindingly bright future.