Harvey Araton of the NY Times: “While Oklahoma City has no courtside celebrity conga line seats, Durant is not Tim Duncan and the Thunder are far from the second coming of the Spurs. Here there is enough star power to challenge the notion that supreme N.B.A. talent must invariably migrate to the vacationland hot spots like South Beach. Durant and Westbrook didn’t need to. They signed long-term deals, forgoing their first crack at free agency and establishing the Thunder as the anti-Heat for the foreseeable future.”
Bill Simmons looking back on the series: “Who could have guessed that Oklahoma City would morph into the ’91 Bulls, that Tony Parker would suddenly and inexplicably stop playing like one of the league’s best five players, that San Antonio’s role players would roll over, that every OKC player would make just about every big shot at every crucial point, that Ibaka and Perkins would make 18 of 20 shots in a remarkable Game 4, that Westbrook would find the right calibration (most of the time) between “reckless” and “breathtaking,” that TNT’s critical Game 2 commentary would motivate Perkins like it did, that Fisher would climb out of his NBA coffin and submit a couple of old-school monster Fish plays (Lakers fans are shaking their heads in disbelief right now), that Scott Brooks would swing the series with some killer adjustments and OUTCOACH Gregg Popovich, that Oklahoma City’s crowd would show Miami what it’s actually like to “fan up,” that everyone who grabbed OKC +500 after Game 2 would feel like a gambling savant, that the league would assign the Hebner Twins (a.k.a. Joey Crawford and Bill Kennedy) to Game 6, and most of all, that Durant would go Young MJ on us and simply refuse to allow the Spurs to advance, no matter how good they were?”
Mark Titus of Grantland tries to find Derek Fisher’s worth: “How much Derek Fisher is directly responsible for the success of his teams over the years is debatable, but the bottom line is that there hasn’t been anyone quite like him in NBA history. (Although, I can’t help but think that had Avery Johnson been 10 years younger, he would’ve played the Fisher role for the Spurs dynasty.)”
Bethlehem Shoals for GQ: “The Thunder are all grown up, even if they remain unorthodox and confounding in some ways. They have arrived and we believe it, though maybe also we all want it. With all due respect to the teams coming out of the East, OKC have proven themselves; they’ve played basketball that kept us enthralled while brimming with emotion. I couldn’t tell you what makes for a winner or the heart of a champion, but I can feel it on a gut level. The Thunder renew my faith in the universe.”
Gregg Doyel of CBSSports.com on OKC’s atmosphere: “If the Thunder have four games at home, the Thunder will win the NBA Finals. Can’t see them losing here, maybe because I never have seen them lose here, and I’ve been here a bunch of times. If I’ve ever seen the Thunder lose at home, it’s been washed from my memory, perhaps by all the noise, noise, noise from the past week when they were spanking the Spurs in the Western Conference finals.”
Sebastian Pruiti of Grantland breaking down the pindown play: “This play is so effective because there are many possible outcomes, as we’ve now seen. As San Antonio altered their defense to stop it, other options opened up. The Thunder are able to read the defense and react accordingly, which makes them even scarier as they prepare for the NBA Finals.”
The Thunder’s hat game was strong after Game 6. I thought it was awesome that Lazar Hayward wears a hat just like his headband. Absolutely straightforward.
John Hollinger of ESPN.com on OKC’s future: “As a result, the Thunder are facing the first of several hard choices once Harden and Ibaka are extension-eligible this summer. They have this year and next with this group no matter what, but after that questions abound. Yet that’s the point at which they’ve arrived. We’re no longer talking about them as a future dynasty, but as a present one, and their biggest worry now is merely how to maintain it in the face of persistent salary-cap pressure. Fourteen other teams in the Western Conference could only dream of such problems.”
Can the Thunder win a title as a jumpshooting team? That is a really stupid question.
Jay Caspian Kang of Grantland: “Sometime very soon, maybe only two weeks from today, Kevin Durant will leap the leap of the leap. All this, of course, is illusory movement — the creation of writers, bloggers, and fans who feel the need to fabricate new expectations and cast Durant into the NBA’s ongoing Oedipal narrative. His play throughout the Thunder’s postseason surge has been so consistently great that it has started to seem preordained. As such, to stave off boredom — and not heavy, lonely boredom, but rather the anxious, light boredom that makes us want to pin meaning onto patterns — we have laid down new obstacles for Durant to hurdle. But is there any better way to describe greatness in the NBA than that?”
Mike Lopresti of USA Today: “To be sure, this is still a college football state. When discussing the NBA Finals, Fallin predicted, “We’re going to take it all the way to the end, and be the national champions.” It made you want to check where the Thunder are in this week’s BCS standings. But pro basketball owns the hearts and minds of Oklahoma at the moment. The people haven’t been this happy since the last time the Sooners beat Texas.”