Los Angeles Lakers Hall of Famer Magic Johnson was the keynote speaker at the ninth annual Champions of Health gala at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City on Monday night and said his former team has some work to do to take the Western Conference title away from the Thunder.
“The one thing that I do appreciate and love about the Thunder is they play hard and they play well together and they play good defense,” Johnson said. “So I think that the Lakers have to get that. And the Thunder will show the Lakers that they’re not going away. They’re going to be here for a long time.”
Johnson also shared a prediction: “I’m predicting that in three years – by 2016 – if the Thunder has not won a championship in three years, then they have disappointed all of us, including myself. They’re supposed to win one in the next three years, whether that’s this season, next season or the year after that. They’re too good. I know the organization, that’s their goal. They have the talent. They have the coach. Everything is in place. Now it’s up to them to just get it done. No, it won’t be easy. But when you’ve got that talent, that’s the main thing, you have to get that talent and they have it, both inside and outside, they’re going to be good.”
Thunder coach Scott Brooks was asked about Johnson’s prediction after Tuesday’s practice.
“I don’t look at the word ‘disappointment’ as part of it,” Brooks said. “We’re no different that any other team in this league. We work hard to put ourselves in a position to win a championship and we feel like we’ve done that throughout the years and last year we came close. We definitely are going to give every effort and energy toward winning the championship, but we don’t talk about it. We don’t put it on the chalkboard or in halftime speeches. We just talk about doing what we have to do to get better and win games, and I think we’ve done a good job as an organization of putting ourselves in a position of competing for championships.”
Three-time scoring champion Kevin Durant, who is entering his sixth year in the league, hasn’t changed his approach for several seasons now.
“I’m just trying to focus on one day at a time,” Durant said. “That (winning the title) is so far down the line. It’s easy for guys outside the circle looking in to think that far down the line. But us, we’re just taking it one day at a time. Of course we want to get there. Of course that’s every team’s goal, especially ours. But we know it’s going to take a process. We can’t get bored with it. We’ve just got to take it a day at a time, see where we’re at.”
- JOHN ROHDE