The Heat looked good in staving off the Celtics late last week, but for two years, this Miami team has played with the weight of the cosmos strapped to its back.
Meanwhile, the Thunder mostly plays with an endearing spirit.
“We're young, athletic, energetic,” Ivey said. “When guys make plays, whether it's one through 15, we're all happy for each other. That's hard to find in the NBA, that guys are legitimately happy for guys when they do well on the court, because it's a business. When we get on the court, we're competing for minutes and contracts and stuff like that. But on this team, it's a little bit different. We look at each other like brothers.”
That could change, eventually. Hard to maintain that kind of culture year after year. Who knows if Oklahoma City ever will find itself in such a time as this. Hard to stay young and beautiful.
Just ask the 1977 TrailBlazers, a wondrously youthful NBA champion that proved to be a one-hit wonder, or the 2005 and 2006 Suns, another American sweetheart that never even reached the NBA Finals.
But for now, the Thunder is all golden and light.
They have the superstar who hugs his mother and covers his tattoos and makes last-second shots, not the superstar who jilted Cleveland and staged a championship celebration before a championship was won and now gets every move microscoped, even while playing historically fabulous basketball.
“They're fresh, they're new, they're exciting,” Battier said. “They play an exciting brand of basketball. We got a bunch of old guys that people are tired of seeing.”
That's just the way it goes in this Star Wars sport that demands championships and is ready to trump LeBron and latch on to a lovable team in a galaxy far, far away on the Oklahoma prairie.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.