If you’ve been looking for a rivalry for the Thunder, you might be able to call off the search party. Between the hard fouls, the trash talk and the obvious dislike between Oklahoma City and the Heat, there’s something brewing.
There’s a natural rivalry already installed just because of the Kevin Durant – LeBron James dynamic. LeBron the evil antagonist, KD the saintly protagonist. Plus, they’re maybe one and two in the pecking order of NBA superstars. Then you have Big 3 vs. Big 3, KD’s comments about Chris Bosh last season and Perk calling out LeBron’s tweeting and then kicking Dwyane Wade in the face.
As if that wasn’t enough, Udonis Haslem threw a little gas into fire. Via the Sun Sentinel:
“I think sometimes people just use the TVs and the cameras and the crowd, you know, to put on a show,” Haslem said of Perkins. “I don’t think he’s all that he shows out there on the court. I think anybody can be a tough guy with a thousand people watching on TV and referees who call fouls and stop the game and different things like that. I don’t see him being any tough guy that he puts on the show to be, at all.”
“If we were playing at the park, I don’t think he’d be doing all that.”
“I voiced my opinion a little bit. Not entitled to say what I said last night, but I got a little bit off my chest. Where I’m from, all the talking and playing like that, if some point it comes to a situation where you’ve got to back it up, he’s never had to back it up, because obviously referees always step in.”
I find Haslem’s comments to be funny, because what’s he asking for here, another Malice at the Palace? Is he daring Perk to hit him? And I mean come on, does he really think Perk wouldn’t back it up off the court? I mean, really?
Obviously most of this comes from Perk’s hard foul on Wade, which he was flagged for his 12th technical. (Which was also a completely ridiculous reputation tech.) And then there was the hard flagrant from Russell Westbrook as well as what seemed like endless trash talk between the two sides.
Wade said this last night, likely in reference to Durant calling Bosh out last season:
“We’re not fake tough guys, we’re not TV thugs. We go out and play basketball. When it’s time to get into the fight, we have a lot of guys who can get into it.”
Says the tough guy that was wheeled off the court in a wheelchair for a shoulder injury…
(Note: I’m saying that not as a fake tough guy, but a not at all tough guy. If Wade so much as raised an eyebrow at me, I’d need to be taken off in a wheelchair out of fear.)
But anyway, shots fired. These teams don’t like each other much, which is the best way to have it. The Thunder have built some animosity between a few teams like the Nuggets, Grizzlies and Mavericks, but none of those really felt like they could evolve into a full-fledged rivalry. It appears we’re on the path to Heat-Thunder possibly turning into one.
All we need is a Finals showdown to seal it.