The Oklahoma City Thunder was a team on the rise in the 2009-10 season. They had a strong core of young players and made it to the postseason for the first time since moving from Seattle. However, they lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in the playoffs and the Lakers went on to beat the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals.
The Thunder realized they were undersized in the paint and inexperienced in the postseason. In 2010-11, the Thunder fixed part of that equation. They traded one of their young players, Jeff Green, to the Celtics for big center Kendrick Perkins. They made it to the postseason again and this time made it all the way to the Western Conference Finals.
The Thunder lost to the Dallas Mavericks, who more experience in their lineup than the Thunder did. They could compete in the paint now, but there was still something missing.
When the Lakers traded Derek Fisher, a man with five NBA Championship rings, to the Houston Rockets, and the Rockets immediately released him, the Thunder jumped quick and signed Fisher to come back up Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City.
Two years ago, the Los Angeles Lakers won the NBA Finals, giving Fisher his fifth ring with the team, by beating the Boston Celtics, with dominating center Kendrick Perkins on their team. The Lakers and Celtics have combined for 34 NBA Championships over their existence. When players play for these teams, they understand what it takes to be a champion and learn quickly how to play like a champion.
Two years ago, the Thunder were an undersized, inexperienced team with a lot of promise. They have now added former members of the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers to their locker room and are now a team that knows how to win championships. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook have said they soak up information from people like Fisher and Perkins. Serge Ibaka is having the best season of his career and he said it is all because of what Perkins has taught him.
The Thunder were missing something but they added the pieces that will help them move to the next level. They are no longer undersized and they have former members of the two greatest franchises in NBA history in their locker room. Perkins and Fisher might have been the final pieces that will lead the Thunder to their first NBA title.
Author Shawn S. Lealos has a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Oklahoma (2000) and is an avid sports fan that has lived in Oklahoma for over 40 years. He used to religiously follow the Dallas Mavericks until Oklahoma City found a team to call their own.
Other articles by Shawn S. Lealos:
- Oklahoma City Thunder Clinch Playoff Spot in Win Over Bulls: A Fan's Take
- Oklahoma City Thunder Player Expects to Win Every Game: A Fan's Take
- Derrick Rose Calls Kevin Durant Frontrunner for NBA MVP: A Fan's Take
- Have the Oklahoma City Thunder Passed the Lakers as the Best in the West?: A Fan's Take
- Derek Fisher to Show Oklahoma City Thunder How the Lakers Work: A Fan's Take
- Sports & Recreation
- Los Angeles Lakers
- Oklahoma City Thunder
- Boston Celtics
- Kendrick Perkins
- Derek Fisher
- Oklahoma City
- Dallas Mavericks