June 12, 2012
Last week, as the NBA conference finals were being played out, Terrence Jones publicized his support for two of the four teams.
"I'm definitely rooting for Oklahoma City and Miami," Jones said, "just because their players we have relationships with, and they're great teams."
Those two teams won their series days later and now meet in the NBA Finals, a pairing that Kentucky has connections to from pre-season workouts with players from each.
Oklahoma City's visit to Lexington in the fall, organized by former Wildcat and current Thunder center Nazr Mohammed, was the most prominent. The majority of the team came to work out in UK's facilities -- including heading out to the football fields so Kevin Durant could run a few routes.
For Kentucky, it was a chance to see how professionals prepare and work together.
"You're seeing teams now in the NBA, they're not talking about isolations and all that. They're talking about team," John Calipari said last Tuesday. "You see Oklahoma City, who decided to come here and work out for four days, helped them pretty much, wouldn't you say? That is, they're playing like a team."
Earlier in the season, Durant had given his own compliments to Kentucky as they chased a championship.
"I called it," Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant told the Courier-Journal's Kyle Tucker before the Final Four. "Everybody on our team said they're the best team in the country. They have five pros on their team. Their sixth man is a pro also. They're really, really good, man."
"They came out here and just tried to kill us, really," Lamb said of pick-up games in the Joe Craft Center with the Thunder. "They weren't taking it easy on us — especially Kevin Durant. Every time he got the ball, he tried to shoot it. And he was talking junk."
"We didn't get crushed," Teague said, "but they beat us."
Meanwhile, Kentucky was one of three schools that wore LeBron-branded Nike gear during the season. And James was no stranger to UK's campus, either, stopping by for three days in the fall.
In the preseason, James was guarded by Anthony Davis, Terrence Jones and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Davis said they "kind of" stopped James -- "But you know, it's LeBron, so he's still going to score."
So which team are you rooting for in the Finals? Talk about it in The House of Blue.