Nov 5, 2012, 1:04 PM EDT
It has been a strange thing to see — barking and bickering among the tight chemistry of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
It’s come up every game so far this season, Darnell Maryberry of the Oklahoman described Sunday’s incident in a loss to the Hawks.
At the end of the first quarter, Thabo Sefolosha and Russell Westbrook had to be separated from exchanging words as they walked to the bench. It was a show of anger that surprisingly was also seen from the same two as they walked off the court at halftime Friday night.
It’s odd because it wasn’t something we saw the past few years as this team made its runs, eventually all the way to the NBA finals. Not that everything was puppy dogs and rainbows around the Thunder, but there was not a lot of public tension.
This isn’t just about James Harden being traded, although that certainly is part of it because it was a big change to the chemistry of the team. Harden had grown up with the Thunder. It was a blow to Durant and Westbrook.
But you can add to that change the strain of expectations. Oklahoma City is no longer the young underdogs everyone wants to see succeed — they are a team that has been to the NBA finals, a team people expect to return to the biggest NBA dance and win it this time.
A team that expects itself to succeed.
All that has led to some tension, some strain on the family feelings around the team.
But don’t expect this to be a long-term concern. Not with Durant and Westbrook in charge — there is no doubt whose team this is (and was even before Harden was sent away). That super duo is going to figure it out, the team will get over this bump.
Thunder coach Scott Brooks and the players there told Royce Young of Eye on Basketball not to worry.
“I’ve never once went into a practice or a game thinking ‘Oh my gosh, I’m really worried about our chemistry tonight,” Brooks said. “[Chemistry] was never a question. It really wasn’t. I think when you talk about chemistry with our group and if you question it, I don’t think you’ve been around our group as long as I have.”
“You can’t duplicate it,” Westbrook said of chemistry, “but we have a group of guys that have been here for a while. We’re switching the team up a little bit but every year we’ve had a different team and we’ve found a way to incorporate guys and make sure everybody knows what it takes for us to win. So I don’t think that’s going to be a problem.”
It’s not. Perceived problems (or success) gets overblown the first couple weeks of a season (see Lakers for more info). Things find their level and even out, as will happen with the chemistry of the Thunder. They are figuring it out. They will get there and be who we expect as the season moves on.
May 23, 2013, 2:39 AM EDT
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May 23, 2013, 2:08 AM EDT
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Pacers’ coach Vogel explains decision to bench Hibbert late, says ‘we’ll probably have him in next time’
May 23, 2013, 1:49 AM EDT
The Heat came away with the 103-102 overtime victory over the Pacers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, thanks to a triple-double performance from LeBron James, which included hitting the game-winning layup as time expired. The words “game-winning layup” should never be a relevant phrase this deep into the postseason; teams normally defend…
May 23, 2013, 1:16 AM EDT
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May 23, 2013, 12:28 AM EDT
Paul George hit a big time shot at the end of regulation to get the Pacers to overtime, but once we got to the end of the extra session, LeBron James took his turn at the last-second heroics. With the Heat trailing by one and 2.2 seconds remaining, James receives the inbounds pass and immediately…
May 22, 2013, 11:50 PM EDT
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May 22, 2013, 9:52 PM EDT
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May 22, 2013, 9:02 PM EDT
Mike Krzyzewski coming back to coach Team USA for the 2016 Rio Olympics is certainly a good step toward another gold medal for the Americans. Coach K has been 62-1 at the helm of USA Basketball. But it’s not the biggest key. That would be getting LeBron James, Kevin Durant and the elite talent of…
May 22, 2013, 7:36 PM EDT
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May 22, 2013, 7:32 PM EDT
We mentioned this in our story telling you Mike Krzyzewski will be back as head coach of Team USA for the 2016 Olympics — there might be some changes to his staff. One bit of news is in — Mike D’Antoni is out as an assistant coach, reports Marc Berman at the New York Post.…
May 22, 2013, 5:16 PM EDT
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May 22, 2013, 3:43 PM EDT
It’s no secret that the Dallas Mavericks want to get a big star to pair with — and eventually take over the franchise mantle from — Dirk Nowitzki. And there are only two franchise-caliber players on the market this season, Chris Paul and Dwight Howard. But to offer a max contract Dallas has to make…
May 22, 2013, 3:21 PM EDT
Kevin Durant has a plenty of business tattoos — he’s got ink, just not where it shows when wearing a basketball uniform. Somehow this shocked people, although if most of those people saw the 25-year-old from accounting they think so highly of out on the weekend they’d find he has ink under his suit to.…
May 22, 2013, 2:43 PM EDT
Not that there was any real question after he played in Game 5 against the Bulls then had a week off to rest his bruised knee but now it is official: Dwyane Wade will play for the Heat in Game 1 against the Pacers Wednesday night. So reports Tim Reynolds of the AP and the…
May 22, 2013, 1:56 PM EDT
There is no need to panic Spurs fans. Not yet. Tony Parker has been playing through a sore calf for a while now and playing well — to the tune of 14 points and 18 assists in the Spurs overtime win Tuesday night. But after the game he was limping a little around the locker…
May 22, 2013, 1:09 PM EDT
Looks like Kevin Love will not have to do any recruiting after all. After saying before, during and immediately after Team USA won the gold medal in London last summer that he was done as the head coach of the team, Mike Krzyzewski has had a change of heart. Coach K will be back to…
May 22, 2013, 12:55 PM EDT
We said as much in our story telling you Vinny Del Negro was not coming back to the Clippers — this was what Chris Paul wanted. Clippers owner Donald Sterling personally liked Del Negro a lot and was his biggest supporter in the organization, so something had to override that. It was free agent to…
May 22, 2013, 11:54 AM EDT
If you want to know what happens when you to right at Indiana’s Roy Hibbert at the rim, watch the video above or ask Carmelo Anthony — Hibbert sent him back dramatically in Game 6 last round. It changed the momentum of the game that eventually sent the Knicks fishing for the summer. So, LeBron…
May 22, 2013, 11:14 AM EDT
Whenever the Memphis Grizzlies’ season ends — which could be sooner rather than later if they don’t start cutting off Tony Parker at the point of attack, but that’s another post — Lionel Hollins is going to be a popular guy. Hollins’ contract is up as coach of the end of this season, and while…
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