James Nosek | Press Box Perspectives Editor/Columnist
Kevin Durant was 27 seconds away from the NBA Finals. Even though his Oklahoma City Thunder had a cushioned lead in the Western Conference Finals, it wasn’t enough. There needed to be that icing on the cake, one last moment to solidify a classic playoff atmosphere.
So, as he stood at the top of the key, ball in hand, Durant saw Kendrick Perkins make a back door cut straight up the middle of the floor. Then, he followed with a scoop pass that wrapped around the San Antonio Spurs defense and allowed Perkins a wide open lane.
The rest was history.
Perkins made one step and slammed it home with two hands. The power of the dunk resonated throughout Chesapeake Energy Arena. You would have thought the Thunder just won the NBA title. That energy and excitement continued, as the game did.
But at that point, it was over, and for Durant: it was definitely over.
After the assist he put up his arms to the sky and went back on defense. The Spurs quickly moved up the floor for one last shot. Their shot would be off the mark and James Harden was there to secure it.
The thunder of the crowd (pun intended) roared after the miss.
And for Durant, he was just caught up in the storm.
After the Spurs’ Tim Duncan fouled to stop the clock at 14.6 seconds, Durant, with his arms clenched, went to the right side of the court, where his parents were. As he approached them, he put spread out his very long wing span and hugged his family for a good ten seconds.
He was like a kid in a candy store, he couldn’t help but celebrate early, what else was he supposed to do?
It was a special moment for not only Durant, but the whole Thunder organization. The group of energetic NBA superstars and vital role players would have a chance for the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
It showed the youth and liveliness of the Thunder, something they have lived by all year. For a team led by two 23 year olds, winning a title so early in their careers would help them be considered one of the great teams in NBA history—and a special crowd to go along with that.
Kevin Durant: 23 years old
Russell Westbrook: 23 years old
James Harden: 22 years old
Thabo Sefolosha: 28 years old
Kendrick Perkins: 27 years old
Serge Ibaka: 22 years old
Just looking at those six is incredible. Six key ingredients to the Thunder’s success—and they’re all under 30. This team is built on energy; it is built on young legs. But then if you add in the experience of Derek Fisher (37 years old) and Nick Collison (31 years old), the team has all the pieces it needs.
If the Thunder does defeat the Heat, Durant (and possibly Westbrook) could be considered future Hall of Famers. No MVP awards yet for Durant in his four years in the league, but three scoring titles and a ring sounds pretty good if you ask me.
And even if they can’t pull it off, this won’t be the last time we see the Oklahoma City Thunder fighting for an NBA title, not with this team.
Here’s the famous Durant hug as well.