Many people were convinced that the OKC team with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden could become an NBA dynasty. Three young and extremely talented players were becoming a big problem in the league, and in 2011/12, they’ve started to show that. They’ve beaten the Dallas Mavericks, the Los Angeles Lakers, and the San Antonio Spurs to reach the 2012 NBA Finals. After defeating the Heat’s Big Three with LeBron, Wade, and Bosh in the first game, young OKC players experienced four straight losses and lost the Finals.
In that offseason, the OKC front office couldn’t make the right deal for Harden, who left for Houston. Still, the Thunder had KD and Russ on their roster, which meant they were always serious contenders. However, they’ve never really meet expectations. Together, their final year was when they’ve lost to the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals in the 2015/16 season after leading 3-1. We all know how the story went after; KD left for GSW and won multiple championships.
But as Steven Adams says, that team was very competitive. Adams was a guest on The Old Man and the Three podcast and gave an insight on that team. Redick asked him if he thinks that Russ was the real leader of the group.
“It was awesome for me. Russ, KD, Serge, and Perk, they were all going at it. They would argue like crazy. And that created a really competitive environment, there wouldn’t be a practice that would be soft. It was always intense. All of them were trying to beat the other one. It wouldn’t be fair for me to say who was alpha-leader, but it’s fair to say that it was a healthy team, if that makes sense. For some people that might not be healthy but they’ve got to the point right away. They were constantly making each other better. As a rookie I was all about it, I wanted to step up my game and play at that level. We’ve all wanted to be acknowledged, to be seen.”Steven Adams, via JJ Redick
Adams added that that kind of environment wasn’t stimulating for everyone. Some players we’re having significant issues with that kind of competitiveness.
“Some players don’t respond well to that, they’re not upfront people. So when someone’s not showing their emotion and haven’t got an opinion about anything, then you really don’t know that guy. You don’t know how he reacts, you don’t know what is going to happen. You’re just waiting for him somewhere through the season to lose his mind, and then you know, he has like a couple of loose screws in there.”Steven Adams, via JJ Redick
That OKC team never won a title, but their drive to be great was through the roof, as Adams says. Maybe that helped all of them becoming the players that they are today.