Kevin Durant (6'9''-G/F-88, college: Texas) was just three minutes into his 10-minute session with reporters Wednesday when he grew a bit testy.
Of the first seven questions lobbed at him, Durant was forced to field five about the San Antonio Spurs.
And he didn't like it. Didn't like it one bit.
Once that fifth question came - a reasonable query about what he anticipates from the Spurs defensively against him - Durant tried to supply an answer but soon found himself swerving off scrpt.
'I'm just going to play my game', Durant started. 'I can't really think about how those guys are going to defend me. Theyre a tough defensive group. But every question is about how the Spurs are going to come and how the Spurs are going to play. But you got to ask me how were going to come at them. Were a tough team as well. We come out and play hard. We have a lot of weapons as well. I know theyre the No. 1 seed, theyre a tough group and they havent lost in a couple of months but I think that we bring another dimension to the table as well. And we can come out and compete.'
Durant has a point.
Most every question players and Thunder coach Scott Brooks faced Wednesday was about how they were going to stop the Spurs. Not once did anyone, including yours truly, inquire about how they Spurs would stop them.
Of course, theres a reason for that. As Durant said, the Spurs are a tough group. Theyre the No. 1 seed and the hottest team in basketball. And they just so happened to trounce the Thunder twice long before they got rolling in the final month of the regular season.
Wednesdays media session was nothing more than a microcosm of the basketball worlds widespread belief in the Spurs. Few will pick the Thunder to win this series. Oklahoma City, to many, just seems to be out-manned.
Still, the Thunders unwavering confidence was on full display Wednesday, with Durants brief retort representing his teams self-belief.
Durant wanted questions about his team, so I asked about his team.
What makes you confident, I asked, against the Spurs? Where do you feel like you have the advantage?
I just think we play hard, Durant said. Were athletic. I didnt say we were going to come out and dominate those guys. But I said that we can compete, of course. We can move the ball. I think cutting down on turnovers has been great for us these last couple of series. Also, just getting out and getting stops and trying to get easy points.
All good answers.
But none are quite good enough to keep the Thunder from walking into the Western Conference Finals on Sunday night in San Antonio as the underdog. Must be a rude awakening for Durant. In the span of three weeks hes seen his team transform from the darlings of the postseason and a heavy favorite in its prior two series to second fiddle. Its as if he senses that few outside of Oklahoma believe the Thunder can win.
Before walking over to local reporters, Durant had just finished a sit-down interview with TNT, which sent bulldog sideline reporter Craig Sager to town as part of its coverage team. No telling what was asked in that closed-door meeting. But theres a good chance Sager stuck a mic on Durant and inquired about everything from the Spurs regular season series win over the Thunder to San Antonios history of excellence.
Maybe thats what the Thunder needs going into this West final: a chip, an edge, a supply of just a little more motivation.
And maybe all of it might stem from mounting skeptics now gushing over the Spurs.
The Los Angeles Clippers have announced their roster for upcoming Orlando's Summer League. Brice Johnson (6'9''-F-94) C.J. Wilcox (6'5''-G-90, college: Washington) Branden Dawson (6'6''-G/F-93, college: Michigan St.) Andrew Andrews (6'2''-G-93) Alex Hamilton (6'4''-G-93) Vince Hunter (6'8''-F-94, college: UTEP) David Michineau (6'3''-PG-94) Royce O'Neale (6'6''-F-93, college: Baylor) Gregory Stiemsma (6'11''-C-85, college: Wisconsin, agency: Priority Sports) Diamond Stone (6'11''-C/F-97... [read more]
The Los Angeles Clippers have announced their roster for upcoming Orlando's Summer League.
31 J.J. Avila (6'7''-F-91) of Colorado State 3 Ron Baker (6'4''-G-93) of Wichita State 41 Devin Booker (6'8''-C-91) of Clemson 14 Mouloukou Souleyman Diabate (5'11''-PG-87) of Rouen (France) 11 Cleanthony Early (6'8''-F-91) of Wichita St. 23 Marvelle Harris (6'4''-G-93) of Fresno St. 44 Ognjen Kuzmic (7'0''-C-90) of Panathinaikos (Greece) 95 Louis Labeyrie (6'10''-C/F-92) of Levallois (France) 50 Assem Marei (6'9''-F-92) of Minn.St.-Mankato 13 Akil Mitchell (6'8''-F-92) of Virginia 40 Mar... [read more]
Brooklyn Nets landed 39-year old coach Mike Batiste. He will be a coach assistant responsible for coaching big men. He has served as coach assistant for the last two years at Canton Charge in D-League. He helped them to end the regular season as a second best team in Central Division. They also advanced to the league semifinals. Batiste has never been drafted by the NBA.But he played for Memphis Grizzlies (2002-03). However he is most-known for his spectacular career overseas. He played i... [read more]
Brooklyn Nets landed 39-year old coach Mike Batiste. He will be a coach assistant responsible for coaching big men. He has served as coach assistant for the last two years at Canton Charge in D-League. He helped them to end the regular season as a second best team in Central Division. They also advanced to the league semifinals. Batiste has never been drafted by the NBA.But he played for Memphis Grizzlies (2002-03). However he is most-known for his spectacular career overseas. He played in Belgium, Italy, Greece and Turkey. But the brightest years of his career are related to Panathinaikos Athens, when he helped them to win Euroleague three times (2007, 2009 and 2011). He was also selected All-Euroleague Forward of the Year by Eurobasket.com twice: in 2007 and 2011.
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