Kevin Durant was named the sixth most powerful person in the NBA by SI.com: “The Thunder’s forward is considered the Tim Duncan of his generation (in terms of values more so than style of play) and a hero to small-market franchises throughout the NBA. When teammate James Harden was traded to Houston on the eve of this season in a move designed to avoid luxury taxes that Oklahoma City couldn’t afford, Durant didn’t complain about the financial limitations of his franchise — instead he responded with his best season yet while extending his prodigious leadership skills. He creates a powerful example for young players, and his matchup with James is on the verge of forming the NBA’s most important rivalry.”
Kevin Pelton of ESPN Insider examining popularity: “Westbrook’s lack of popularity is not entirely surprising. Though only Chris Paul is clearly superior among West guards, Westbrook finished fifth in All-Star voting, behind starters Paul and Bryant, James Harden and Jeremy Lin. What’s odd is that Westbrook’s polarizing game doesn’t translate into much attention online — he ranks 16th in Google search volume.”
Deadspin attempts to lip-read Kobe and Serge Ibaka’s conversation. I think they’re a little off though. Looks less to me like Kobe is saying “hogsh–” and is saying “that’s not talking sh–.” The appearance is that Ibaka probably asked, “Why are you talking sh–?” and Kobe said, “that’s not talking sh–, someone asked blah blah,” of course in reference to the smack you in the face thing.
J.A. Adande for ESPN Insider wants to see a Thunder-Rockets playoff series: “It probably won’t end as well for Harden, but he’ll make the Thunder squirm before the series is over. And imagine the quandary he’ll put the Oklahoma City fans into. Do they dare pull out their fake beards and No. 13 jerseys to honor their favorite former player during a playoff series? The Thunder could pull out their spreadsheets, host a seminar on the luxury-tax rules and give a prudent explanation for why they traded Harden, but it would all be drowned out by the noise and the emotion of the playoffs.”
Headline: “Thabeet stars for Thunder.” Also, he’s described as “STAR basketball player, Hasheem Thabeet.”
Liggins and Orton have been assigned to Tulsa.
Tom Haberstroh of ESPN Insider on how to beat the Heat: “So, how do you beat the Heat when they’re playing four future Hall of Famers on the court, three of whom are in their prime? Answer: You pray that the fifth player is Norris Cole. Yes, the Heat do have a weakness. And truth be told, it’s stunning they’ve been able to get away with it for so long. Contrary to popular belief, Miami’s greatest sore spot isn’t rebounding, size or any area of their game. Rather, their weakness has taken the form of a specific player on their roster. They can’t seem to play winning basketball with Cole on the floor.”