Thunder Show True Class in Defeat"We're going to treat them like they're the champions. After the game were going to walk and shake their hands and acknowledge all of them. They beat us fair and square. However how hard that hurts, they still beat us fair and square."--Oklahoma City Thunder Coach Scott Brooks' message to his team late in game five of the 2012 NBA Finals
LeBron James deserves credit for realizing how immaturely he acted last year and for taking steps to become more mature but while many media members stumble over each other to be first in line to praise James and scream from the rooftops, "All is forgiven, King James!" it is important to emphasize that the Oklahoma City Thunder--a team that featured the youngest starting lineup to reach the NBA Finals since the 1977 Portland Trail Blazers--are already very mature human beings, even if they may need some seasoning as basketball players in order to achieve their ultimate goal; James embarrassed himself with both his lackluster play and his immature comments during last year's NBA Finals but the Thunder have displayed commendable maturity throughout their evolution from the worst team in the league to a squad that looks like a potential dynasty in the making. After James' Cleveland Cavaliers lost to the Orlando Magic in the 2009 playoffs, he fled the court without shaking hands with the Magic players and he later refused to apologize for his poor sportsmanship, insisting that his boorish conduct actually was a reflection of his competitiveness. In contrast, Thunder Coach Scott Brooks instructed his players to congratulate the Heat last night--and the beautiful thing is that one gets the sense that most if not all of the Thunder players would have done the right thing even if Brooks had not reminded them in the heat of the moment to do so. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are each just 23 years old but they are young men who do the NBA proud on and off the court and they are worthy future NBA Champions.
posted by David Friedman @ 3:35 PM