The team is set to arrive back in OKC roughly between 1:30 PM and 2. If you want to welcome them back, show up at Will Rogers and go to 6405 S. Meridian Hanger 1/2 and basically just follow the crowd.
Henry Abbott of TrueHoop: “Do all that long enough, and holy cow, look what can happen. Maybe one year soon Durant will get his first title, and the stories will tumble forth about how he has matured, and now he has the sacred knowledge. Now he knows the secret. Or maybe the secret is: There is no secret. Maybe you work really hard, add skills, build relationships with your teammates, stay in great shape, concentrate, take high percentage shots, and just keep right on trucking, knowing that with the right people and effort in place, the results will take there of themselves.
Chris Mannix of SI.com: “This was a painful step in Oklahoma City’s development, but a necessary one. The NBA demands a pound of flesh from all its champions, and it took a chunk from the Thunder on Thursday night. Yet showered, dressed and sitting side by side on a dais, Durant and Westbrook were despondent but defiant, down but not defeated. They recalled the waning moments of the game, when they were forced to watch Miami start its celebration, and the reality of defeat washed over them.”
Marc Stein of ESPN.com: “Going to get no sympathy from anyone in the league. They’re set up so well for the future, even when you factor in all the tough decisions to come with James Harden and Serge Ibaka and filling the other holes on this roster, that they just have to grit through this pain. And they will. I have no doubt.”
John Krolik for PBT: “James drew first blood what I’m hoping will be a long string of NBA Finals played between the Thunder and the Heat, but Durant proved himself to be a more than worthy competitor for James’ crown as he finally officially grabbed his. There are a million variables that could prevent a James-Durant rematch, both next year and in the years to come, but I’m hoping we get enough of them to make this one of modern basketball’s great rivalries.”
Tom Haberstroh of ESPN.com: “It isn’t and here’s why: the Thunder could flip Harden (an Arizona State product, remember) to Phoenix in a sign-and-trade deal for Nash and Marcin Gortat. The Thunder have the contracts to make the money work (Kendrick Perkins and Daequan could be thrown in) and the Suns could get their young stud of the future without letting Nash go for nothing. As unstoppable as the Thunder might be offensively were this to happen, it comes with its veritable risks, too. Nash is 38 and has a problematic back that could end his playing career at any moment. It’s also worth wondering how healthy Nash would be without being monitored by the miracle-working Phoenix training staff. But Nash is a virtuoso, once-in-a-lifetime talent. If he can’t get Durant the ball where he wants it, no one can. Oh, and Gortat ain’t bad.”
Berry Tramel: “The Heat lost the 2011 Finals, and LeBron, in the catacombs of American Airlines Arena on Thursday night, called it the “best thing that happened to me last year, and me playing the way I played. Because basically I got back to the basics. It humbled me.” That’s the word. This game humbled the Thunder. It’s a fairly humble bunch to begin with. A game like this will make the Thunder hungrier to return. Thanks, Miami. Oklahoma City owes you one.”
Darnell Mayberry: “I can’t help but wonder what would have happened had the Thunder just tried to go small and outscore the Heat. I have no idea if it would have worked. But it couldn’t have been much worse than what actually took place here. Of course, the Thunder wants to win with defense. OKC wants to be a defense-first franchise. That’s all good. It’s a proven path to success. But being this close, what would have happened if the Thunder scrapped that and scored and scored and scored some more?”
Eric Freeman of BDL on KD crying: “It’s a good sign that people largely accepted Durant’s reaction. Professional athletes — all public figures, really — should be allowed to show their emotion when warranted. What we need to remember more than anything is that the same passion that defines that pain is also what allows them to succeed.”
Kelly Dwyer of BDL: “We don’t want it to end, either. And after a season like this, that’s saying something. We have the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder to thank for that. Kevin Durant’s tears, in exhaustion, to thank for that. LeBron James’ unyielding brilliance, pitched at the absolute right time, to thank for that.”
Mike Sherman: “The Thunder showed us all a sermon. On class, on gratitude and on all the things this organization said it wanted to be about since the day it arrived in town. What transpired on the court at American Airlines Arena in Game 5 was nothing for the Thunder to be proud of. It’s possible that was Oklahoma City’s worst performance of the year. But what transpired behind and on the OKC bench toward the end of the Heat’s NBA title-clinching 121-106 victory is the kind of thing you don’t see every day in a championship setting. Maybe not ever.”