Sports teams have used the term “family” for decades to describe their feelings towards teammates. The Pittsburgh Pirates were the first to emphasize it 30 years ago when they played off Sister Sledge’s hit song “We Are Family.”
The Thunder is one of those teams where family is a term not taken lightly among those in the front office or the locker room.
Jeff Green (Washington, D.C.), D.J. White (Tuscaloosa, Ala.) and Kyle Weaver (Wisconsin) were all in Oklahoma City on Saturday when the three rookies –James Harden, B.J. Mullens and Robert Vaden — were introduced. That speaks volumes that they planned trips to OKC when their new teammates would be in town.
General manager Sam Presti constantly refers to acquiring high character guys who will work hard and play hard for each other. That’s why the “family” references aren’t by happen stance. Those are the type of players Presti wants to build around.
There have been teams that argued and bickered and still won championships, the Yankees of decades ago being a prime example. But in most cases, a family-like comrarderie enhances winning games while locker room “cancers” can tear a team apart.
How good will the Thunder be in two or three seasons, when young players start to enter their prime? Hard to say. But Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Green have talent. Based on his two seasons at Arizona State and rookie combine stats, Harden has more talent than most realize. Mullens, according to scouts, has unique physical gifts but has a ways to go to have that talent manifest on the court.
But talent isn’t the only vairable to consistently winning games. Good team chemistry will enhance the Thunder’s chances of being a viable playoff contender over the next few seasons.