Thunder: Where have all the 3-29 guys gone?
Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry are the lone Mavericks left from Dallas’ 2006 NBA Finals team. But that’s not rare. Truth is, NBA teams, even the best of teams, turn over rosters frequently.
The Thunder, for example. By now you’ve heard that only three Boomers remain from the 3-29 team — the original Thunder that started 3-29 before a New Year’s Eve 2008 victory, which ignited Oklahoma City to a 20-30 finish and eventually, the title contender you see now playing the Mavs in the Western Conference Finals.
Hard to believe, isn’t it, that only Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Nick Collison remain from that 3-29 start?
Nenad Krstic arrived in December, signed as a free agent. Malik Rose and Chucky Atkins came aboard in late-season trades. Shaun Livingston signed on in March, as a free agent. None of them experienced the indignity of being compared to the NBA’s worst teams ever.
Jeff Green, you remember, was a central figure in the Thunder turnaround from hapless to contender. But he and Krstic were shipped to Boston this February.
No one else who suffered through 3-29 experienced any of the glory of the last two seasons.
Earl Watson, who opened that first Thunder season as the starting point guard, was waived in summer 2009 and spent this season with the Utah Jazz.
D.J. White, always a good clubhouse guy and friend of the young Thunders, was traded to Charlotte this February for Nazr Mohammed.
Chris Wilcox, who made six starts for the Thunder, was traded to the Knicks in February 2009 for Rose and has spent the last two seasons with the Pistons.
Desmond Mason was a Thunder crowd favorite and a professional role model for all the young players. He suffered a season-ending injury in February 2009, signed in the off-season with Sacramento and played his final five NBA games with the Kings. Now he’s retired in Oklahoma City, supporting the Thunder from courtside seats.
Damian Wilkins started 14 games for that Thunder team; he played for Minnesota in 2009-10 and for Atlanta this season.
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