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Sunday , May , 22 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Kendrick Perkins: Thunder ‘didn’t trust each other’

The Thunder has toyed with this disturbing trend throughout the playoffs. Oklahoma City has trailed after one quarter in 11 of its 15 games this postseason. But this was as bad as it's ever been. “Tonight, we didn't trust each other,” said Kendrick Perkins. “We just got to have trust in each other. That's the bottom line.”

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: Is Kendrick Perkins a touch too assertive right now?

Yes, he has playoff experience. Yes, he has a championship. Yes, he has a tell-it-like-it-is personality.

Still, it's a bit harsh to publicly declare that the Oklahoma City Thunder didn’t trust each other in game three.

Perkins, after all, is new. He joined the Thunder at the trade deadline. He’s a valuable player, but hardly a superstar. That role belongs to Kevin Durant, who isn’t calling out teammates to reporters.

So why should Perkins?

Another question: why is Perkins calling a timeout early in the third quarter of game three? That's the coaching staff's job. Only a few great players can get away with calling for a stoppage in play.

To be fair: I like the burly center. I like the simplicity of his game. If healthy, he’s probably the difference between the Boston Celtics winning and losing game seven of the 2010 NBA Finals.

He just needs to take it down a notch.

--Oly Sandor.

Got thoughts? Well, get at HoopsVibe News in the comment box below.

 

 
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Sunday , May , 22 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Video: James Harden and the power of ‘THE FLOP’

HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: I like James Harden. I do. However, I disliked his flop in game three of the Western Conference Finals. 

For those that missed it: Harden’s face gently grazed Tyson Chandler’s elbow, but he still hit the floor like a member of the Italian national soccer team.

Chandler got a technical. Oklahoma City went to the free throw line.

Two things are worth noting. First, Harden’s ‘performance’ could’ve changed the series. Suppose Chandler already had a technical; something that was not unlikely given his battles with Oklahoma City Thunder center Kendrick Perkins.

Harden’s flop job would have led to Chandler getting ejected, which would have had ramifications on game three and the series.

Second, Stern and the suits at head office should fine and/or suspend players for flopping. Other sports like hockey and soccer punish players for embellishing infractions.

The NBA should do the same, which may deter flopping.

Anyway, watch the video and get at us with thoughts on Harden in the comment box below. 

--Oly Sandor.

Got thoughts? Well, get at HoopsVibe News in the comment box below.

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Saturday , May , 21 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

In defence of Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook

Westbrook, the Thunder's most misunderstood, puzzling or overanalyzed player, depending on your perspective, wouldn't flame the scrutiny on coach Scott Brooks' decision not to play him a single second of the fourth quarter in OKC's Game 2 win over Dallas on Thursday. The play of the Thunder's second-best player has been publicly picked apart throughout the postseason. Does he shoot too much, take bad shots and not pass enough?

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: Russell Westbrook has a giant bulls-eye on his back.

The critics allege the Oklahoma City Thunder point guard shoots too much, knocks heads with Coach Scott Brooks, and wants to establish himself at the expense of his team.

The critics argue Westbrook should be the Thunder’s third option, with superstar Kevin Durant and super-sub James Harden as primary scorers.

Perhaps this is fair. Perhaps, the Thunder would be better with Westbrook using his athleticism to set-the-table for teammates and averaging a balanced 15 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists.

The criticism is, to an extent, unfair. Especially since the Thunder won game two of the Western Conference Finals in Dallas. 

Sure, Brooks sat Westbrook for the entire fourth quarter. Sure, the Thunder won in spite of Westbrook, not because of him.

They still won, though. They still achieved a split on the road. And they have home-court advantage.

The world isn't ending. Westbrook isn’t the devil. He’s just a 22-year old point guard, who sometimes struggles with when to pass and shoot.

Others have had issues with decision making. Like Isiah Thomas of the Detroit Pistons. Like Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers. And like Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls.

By the way, these three figured 'it' out and won a combined 13 NBA championships.

Don’t get it twisted: Westbrook is not the next Zeke, Kobe, or MJ. It takes time for players, specifically point guards, to figure ‘it’ out.

Take Chauncey Billups. Before he became Mr. Big Shot with the Detroit Pistons, Billups was a nomad, playing on four teams between 1997 and 2002.

Critics said he lacked a position, couldn’t involve teammates and was a bust. Billups suddenly figured 'it out. Over the last ten years, he has won an NBA championship, been a Finals MVP, and made regular appearances in the Conference Finals.

Bottom line: Billups has had an excellent career. And he isn’t done. Like Westbrook, he needed time. Westbrook, at this age, is mch further along than Billups.

Critics need to appreciate Westbrook for what he is and can do. Soon enough, he’ll figure ‘it’ out. Then opponents will have to watch out.

--Oly Sandor.

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“Durantula” And Who Else?
Thursday , May , 19 , 2011 Paul Eide

“Durantula” And Who Else?

 

The Oklahoma City Thunder don’t want to get into high scoring games with the Dallas Mavericks every game in this series because they just can’t hang; Dallas is too deep and is loaded with scorers. By comparison the Thunder really only have three options; Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden who were the only three players to average double figures during the season. In the playoffs Serge Ibaka is averaging 10.2 ppg but as a defensive specialist in the middle he is a fourth scoring option but only out of necessity. After that it gets thin in a hurry as Nick Collison is the fifth leading scorer averaging 5.8 ppg. And that’s pretty much it.
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Sunday , May , 15 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Rumor: Kevin Durant wants The Decision 2.0?

Asked if any inch of him wanted to someday experience his own summer of LeBron, Durant said: "You said an inch, so I'll take that inch. One inch of my mind just wants to experience that, see what it's like, you know. I've been through the recruitment process, of course, going to college, but I want to see how that is. I'm not saying that I want to go to another team or I want to go to a greater market. But just how much it was publicized this summer, I just want to see what that's like. I'm an interested person, I'm a curious person. And once again, I'm not trying to say I want to leave or anything. But I just want to see how that is.

"I'll be 27 when my contract's up. So maybe when I'm 27 … But you never know. Two or three years down the line, I might sign another extension here. So we'll see. We'll see. But right now, I'm happy where I'm at, I'm glad I'm locked in for five years."

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: Kevin Durant, don’t do it. Don’t pull a LeBron and hold ‘The Decision 2.0’ when you become a free agent in a few years.

Don’t announce your future on national television like a raving egomaniac. Don’t pull Jim Gray out the ‘reporter’ scrap heap for a paid gig. And finally, don’t ruin your nice guy persona in an afternoon by acting like a jerk.

Just don’t. Don't even think about it.

In a few years, you’ll be a free agent. You have the right to pick where you play. Nobody can take issue with what you decide. As James learned the hard way, how you decide is everything.

For instance, James had given Cleveland seven years. They couldn’t provide a legit’ co-star, so he left. Fair enough. He had that right.

However, the backlash occurred mostly because James acted like a diva. ‘The Decision’ was unprofessional; his image has yet to recover.

Hopefully, Durant was misquoted. And hopefully, Durant has learned. One bad decision –like 'The Decision'- can change years of goodwill.

--Oly Sandor.

Got thoughts? Well, get at HoopsVibe News in the comment box below.
 

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Saturday , May , 14 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Charge or block: Darrell Arthur’s facial on Nick Collison?

HoopsVibe`s Very Quick Call: Yes, the Memphis Grizzlies beat the Oklahoma City Thunder yesterday to force a do-or-die game seven on Sunday.

The real debate will be this: charge or block?

After all, Memphis reserve Darrell Arthur threw down a facial for the ages on Nick Collison, but the basket was disallowed because the referees called a charge.

Nobody disagreed more than Memphis` Marc Gasol, who, through his facial expressions, either thought it was a block or finally saw the replay of Lakers coach Phil Jackson abusing brother Pau in game three against the Dallas Mavericks.

Charge or block? Watch the video, make the call, and get at us with thoughts in the comment box below.  

--Oly Sandor.

Got thoughts? Well, get at HoopsVibe News in the comment box below.

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Friday , Apr , 01 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Celtics need Shaq, Jermaine O’Neal, and Krstic healthy to win NBA Title?

Krstic left with 2:18 left in the first half of Thursday's game after landing awkwardly on his right leg. His knee became bent out of shape and he immediately felt the pain. With the help of Celtics trainer Ed Lacerte, Krstic limped off the floor. Krstic will return home to Boston where he will undergo an MRI on Friday.

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call:  Suddenly, the Boston Celtics are thin at center.
 
Remember, the green-and-white signed the two O’Neals, Jermaine and Shaquille this summer. Depth was one reason executive Danny Ainge felt comfortable sending interior defender Kendrick Perkins to the Oklahoma City Thunder for forward Jeff Green at the trade deadline.

Injuries, pending free agency, and a plethora of posts, made Perk’ expendable. Or, so the Celtics thought.

Jermaine O’Neal isn’t healthy. He hasn’t been all year. Shaquille O’Neal’s Achilles has kept him out of the line-up for some time. Whenever he returns, fitness will be an issue.

Knowing this, Ainge prudently acquired Nenad Krstic from Oklahoma City as part of the Green deal. Now Krstic is out for the foreseeable future with his own knee troubles.

Well, what does this mean?

Suppose the Celtics advance to the NBA Finals. They’ll need size at center to counter, say, the Los Angeles Lakers’ Andrew Bynum, the Dallas Mavericks’ Tyson Chandler, or the San Antonio Spurs’ Tim Duncan.
 
Some combination of the O'Neals and Krstic must be available to log heavy minutes. And Garnett must be free to roam and help on defence. He does this best when playing power forward.

Sliding The Big Ticket to center makes the defending Eastern Conference champs smaller and limits Garnett's effectiveness.

Hopefully, the Celtics get healthy down low. Returning to the Finals and having any chance at beating the Lakers, or any other western foe, depends on it.  

--Oly Sandor.

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Wednesday , Mar , 23 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Kenyon Martin: Nuggets don`t miss Carmelo Anthony

"We all know Melo is a great player, but I don't think one player has ever won a championship in this league," Kenyon Martin told HOOPSWORLD. "He's a great player, but it's all about us playing together right now. That's what we're trying to do."

"We're just going out and playing basketball," he continued. "Everyone here knows how to play and we're competing every single night. When you compete, you put yourself in position to win. It's just playing basketball. Once you know how to play this game the right way, you can really fit into any system."

 
HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: Kenyon Martin is saying what everyone is thinking.

The Denver Nuggets won’t miss Carmelo Anthony. Not now. And not going forward.

Despite the trend towards super teams, basketball is still a sport where chemistry can trump talent. Playing together and playing for each other can go a long, long way to ensuring success –even in the pros.

This is what the Nuggets are doing. They’re defending. They’re moving the ball. And guess what? They’re winning, posting a 10-4 record since trading their former franchise face to the New York Knicks.

Best of all, there’s a sense of together-ness. Nugget players and coaches aren’t dealing with twenty-four hour gossip and trade rumours. Raymond Felton aside, everybody on the roster wants to be in Denver.

Clearly, the Nuggets are having fun. Like the Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conference, there’s a collectiveness and positive vibe surrounding The Mile High City.

This along with their defense and unselfishness will make the Nuggets a dangerous first round playoff opponent for San Antonio, Los Angeles, Dallas, or Oklahoma City.

Did the Nuggets ever look dangerous with Anthony this year?

Give Martin credit for speaking up. And give Martin credit for speaking the truth.

--Oly Sandor.


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Losing Kendrick Perkins Doesn’t Matter
Sunday , Feb , 27 , 2011 Paul Eide

Losing Kendrick Perkins Doesn’t Matter

 

Even with Carmelo Anthony finally going to the Knicks and Deron Williams sudden trade to the Nets, the most talked about trade completed before Thursday’s deadline was the trade between the Celtics and Thunder. Boston sent Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson to Oklahoma City for Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic.
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Friday , Feb , 25 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

A win-win: Celtics, Thunder swap Perkins for Green

The Celtics have agreed to send Kendrick Perkins to the Thunder in exchange for a package built around Jeff Green. Green and Perkins will both be free agents this offseason, while the former will be restricted. Nenad Krstic and Nate Robinson will also be included in the deal.Boston will also receive the 2012 first round pick of the Clippers from Oklahoma City.

 
HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: It's a win-win for the Boston Celtics and Oklahoma City Thunder.

The green-and-white either couldn't afford or wouldn't foot the bill to keep center Kendrick Perkins in Beantown. In Green, they get a swing that can play now and assume a greater role when Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, and Paul Pierce retire.

Meanwhile, Green wasn't a fit for the Thunder, so dealing him for Perkins made sense. The rugged rebounder will anchor Coach Scott Brooks' defence and assist Serge Illbaka in the middle.

Of course, with any trade there's risk. For instance, Green will be a restricted free agent in July. Getting his name on a long-term extension may not be easy.

Perkins will be an unrestricted free agent and could walk on the Thunder at season's end. For instance, there are rumblings he'll pair with current Celtics coach Doc Rivers down in Miami.

That, however, is for tomorrow. Today, the Celtics and Thunder should celebrate a mutually beneficial trade.

--Oly Sandor.
 
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Monday , Jan , 31 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Kevin Durant calls Chris Bosh ‘a fake tough guy’

"I was talking to my teammate and he decided he wanted to put his 2 cents into it. I'm a quiet guy, a laid-back guy, but I'm not going to let nobody talk trash to me. He's on a good team now, so he thinks he can talk a little bit," Durant said. "There's a lot of fake tough guys in this league and he's one of them," Durant added.

 
HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: Chris Bosh isn’t exactly respected by his NBA peers.

Shaquille O’Neal once branded him the ‘RuPaul’ of big men. Amar’e Stoudemire boasted to the world that he was better than Bosh. Today, Kevin Durant called him a ‘fake tough guy’.

Durant’s comments came after his Oklahoma City Thunder dropped a close game to Bosh’s Miami Heat on national television. The lanky three-man missed a fade-away jumper in the closing seconds which would have sent the game to overtime.

However, the tough loss wasn’t the reason for Durant’s outburst. Earlier in the game, he and Bosh bumped into each other and exchanged words. Both were given technical fouls.

Clearly, Durant doesn’t believe Bosh can back-up the tough talk. And he isn’t the only one.  

--Oly Sandor.
 
Got thoughts? Well, get at HoopsVibe News in the comment box below
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Wednesday , Jan , 26 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Rumor: Cavaliers not interested in Gerald Wallace?

The rumors about Charlotte Bobcats forward Gerald Wallace coming to Cleveland died as quickly as they started. The Bobcats are indeed interested in moving Wallace's contract, but they wanted a first-round pick from the Cavaliers in return, according to a league source. That's not happening. The Cavs are trying to acquire first-round picks, not trade them away — and certainly not on a 10-year veteran like Wallace.

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: Nothing against Gerald Wallace but he wasn’t a fit for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

After all, the Cavaliers need to tear this thing down and start over. This means one thing: fire sale. All veterans must be dealt for draft picks, expiring contracts, and blue-chip prospects.

Acquiring a veteran with a contract – Wallace is owed $22 million over the next two years – is wrong. It’s a distraction. It’s a quick fix. And Cleveland would be making a move for the sake of making a move.

Instead, owner Dan Gilbert needs one thing: patience. This means holding off on typing a Net-letter to fans when things turn out poorly. This also means trusting the people he hired, bottoming out, and building for the future -exactly like Executive Sam Presti did with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Quick fixes like Wallace and his big ticket aren’t the long-term answer.

--Oly Sandor.

Got thoughts? Well, get at HoopsVibe News in the comment box below.

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Saturday , Jan , 01 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Josh Smith feels ‘disrespected’ by Serge Ibaka and Russell Westbrook

Asked if he was upset by Ibaka’s dunk, or the foul, or both, Smith said, “You know what it was. That’s showing disrespect (dunking the ball). Everybody in the whole league knows you don’t do nothing like that. I talked to Durant about it. He said he would talk to him (Ibaka) about it, and he knew that wasn’t right.
 
 
HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: It wasn’t as offensive as Andray Blatche screaming at a teammate or Ricky Davis shooting on his own basket.

It was close, though.

Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook and center Serge Ibaka won’t win any friends on the Atlanta Hawks by padding their statistics in the final moments of yesterday’s game.

Last night, the Thunder had beaten the Hawks. Time was set to expire. Both teams seemed content to let the final seconds play out and move on to the next game.

Then Westbrook suddenly passed the ball to Ibaka for an uncontested, breakaway dunk. Westbrook needed one assist for a triple-double, while Ibaka needed two points for a double-double.

This is a no-no.

The Hawks’ Mike Bibby and Josh Smith rightfully took exception to Westbrook and Ibaka’s actions. Thunder superstar Kevin Durant was left to play peacemaker after the game.

Even Thunder coach Scott Brooks couldn’t defend his players, telling The Oklahoman “when you got the game won, you run the clock out”. Anyway, watch the clip and get at us with thoughts on Westbrook and Ibaka’s last second basket against the Hawks.

 
(Ibaka's dunk is at the end of the highlight package.)
 
--Oly Sandor.
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Saturday , Nov , 13 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Is Team USA responsible for Kevin Love’s 31 point, 31 rebound night?

HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: Earlier this week, Kevin Love had 20 points and 20 rebounds against the Los Angeles Lakers. Last night, he became the first player in 28 years to tally over 30 points and 30 rebounds.

There are many explanations for Love’s fine play of late: he has always had talent; he’s finally healthy; he’s no longer sharing the frontcourt with Al Jefferson; he’s taken another step in year three.

Of course, conspiracy theorists believe Love has stepped up his play so other teams will call the Minnesota Timberwolves and inquire about his availability.

Perhaps there’s truth in all of these.

However, there’s no disputing winning a gold medal with Team USA at the FIBA World Championship in Turkey had a positive influence on Love.

Love is fitter, more confident, and understands his place in the game. The same can be said for Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook, who also benefited from representing stars-and-stripes.

Hopefully, other players take note of Love and Westbrook’s improved play and are more open to suiting up for their country.

Click the videos below to watch highlights of Love’s historic game and hear his comments on notching 30 and 30.
 


--Oly Sandor.

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Tuesday , Sep , 07 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Can Durant and Thunder stop Kobe and Lakers from three-peating?

Coupled with the stiff resistance that the Thunder offered the Lakers last spring, the coming of age of both of these players bodes well for the immediate and long-range success of the Oklahoma City Thunder ... That leaves Dallas and Oklahoma City as the Lakers' only viable competition.

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: No doubt about it, the Oklahoma City Thunder is on the rise.

The upstart franchise pushed the world champion Los Angeles Lakers in the 2010 Western Conference Quarter-Finals. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City’s best players, have represented USA well at the FIBA World Championships.   

So the student, the Thunder, is learning. However, they aren’t ready to challenge the master in 2011, the Lakers. After all, the purple and gold has improved, too.
 
For instance, Andrew Bynum, Kobe Bryant, and Pau Gasol have spent this summer getting healthy; a leaner, meaner Ron Artest will have another year in the triple-post; and Matt Barnes, Steve Blake, and Theo Ratliff will bring consistency to the second-unit.

The Lakers are primed for a three-peat. In 2011, the Thunder won’t be ready to stop them.

--Oly Sandor.

Got thoughts? Well, get at HoopsVibe News in the comment box below.

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Monday , Aug , 23 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

The evolution of Kevin Durant: young superstar’s block saves USA’s 86-85 win over Spain

HoopsVibe’s Very Call Quick Call: The great ones play defense.

Michael. Kobe. Tim Duncan. They all got stops, both individually and collectively.

On Sunday, we may have witnessed young Kevin Durant take another step towards greatness when he blocked Rudy Fernandez’s last second shot attempt to preserve Team USA’s 86-85 win over Spain.

After all, Durant is already a top-five player for the upstart Oklahoma City Thunder. And like the young Thunder, he took significant steps on defense in 2009-10.

If he continues to evolve on both ends of the floor, the lanky swing could soon be the NBA’s premier player.

Watch the highlights of Team USA’s 86-85 victory over Spain to win the Global Community Cup. And get at us with thoughts on Durant’s block and continued development into a great player. 

--Oly Sandor.

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Thursday , Aug , 19 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Nenad Krstic goes chair crazy in Greece-Serbia brawl

HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: The headline says it all -Greece and Serbia in a bench-clearing, chair throwing brawl.

And somewhere, Commissioner David Stern is breathing a sigh of relief that this donnybrook occured outside of NBA confines and on FIBA turf.

After all, how many games would Corporal Stern give Oklahoma City Thunder post Nenad Krstic for making like a WWE manager and hitting the Greeks with a chair?   

Update: Krstic was arrested and released by Greek police for 'an infraction against the law of sports violence'. I didn't know there were laws to 'sports violence', but apparently there is, and Krstic went 'against' them.

--Oly Sandor.

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Wednesday , Jul , 21 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Kevin Durant to lead undermanned Americans at World Championship

For the NBA's youngest scoring champion, Kevin Durant has displayed some kind of maturity. With Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and the rest of the Beijing Olympic team taking the summer off, USA Basketball's roster is wide open for next month's world championships in Turkey. championships.

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HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: He will be the leader for USA Basketball at the FIBA World Championship in Turkey.

Three years into his NBA career, Kevin Durant has impressed. He has helped the Oklahoma City Thunder become the team to watch. He has become an elite player. And he has handled himself with class.

However, the global spotlight will be unlike anything he has ever faced.

The international game is different than the NBA. Other national teams have played together for years, establishing chemistry, while the Americans are making do with a summer training camp.

And stars and stripes are undermanned, with every player on the gold medal winning squad from China passing on Turkey. That's right: No Kobe, LeBron, 'D-Wade', 'Melo, Chris Bosh, or even twelfth man Carlos Boozer.

The entire Redeem Team is out. They all said thanks, but no thanks. 

Whether by default or not, Durant is The Man. He and his teammates will face a significant challenge.

--Oly Sandor.

Got thoughts? Well, get at HoopsVibe News in the comment box below.   

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Wednesday , Jul , 07 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Durant signs extension with Thunder, shames Bosh, James, Stoudemire, and Wade with his class

Kevin Durant has agreed to a five-year contract extension with the Thunder, according to his official Twitter page. The terms of the deal are unclear, but the Thunder`s star can`t sign the deal until Thursday when the NBA`s moratorium is lifted.

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HoopsVibe`s Very Quick Call: There was no celebrity pitch. There was no rock star tour. There was no discussion of filming a documentary. And there were no demands for a superstar teammate.

Once again, the Oklahoma City Thunder and their superstar Kevin Durant hit exactly the right note, quietly agreeing to terms Wednesday on what will surely be a maximum extension.

While Durant broke the news on twitter, he was, as usual, gracious, honest, and appreciative.

Kevin Durant: Exstension for 5 more years wit the #thunder.... God Is Great, me and my family came a long way...I love yall man forreal, this a blessing!


How novel?

An NBA superstar actually acknowledging he’s blessed, and not treating the negotiating process like an opportunity to manipulate fans.

To be fair, the three-man was not an unrestricted free agent, so he had significantly less leverage than the big names in this year’s free agent class.

Still, at 21, Durant may be the youngest of the NBA’s elite; however, the maturity with which he handled the process is something the current crop of greats - like Chris Bosh – can learn from.

If the small market Thunder can keep his supporting cast together, they should be rewarded with playoff success.

Let’s hope so. Right now, Durant is hard not to cheer for.

--O.Sandor

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