James Harden sounds like his heart is sold on Thunder, OKC

No other NBA team might have enough money to lure Harden away from Thunder Nation.
by Jenni Carlson Published: October 1, 2012

Add up all the things like that the Thunder does, and it makes for a first-class organization.

That's what Kendrick Perkins called the franchise shortly after the Thunder acquired him from Boston a few years back. And that's one of the reasons that shortly after he arrived, he signed a long-term deal with the Thunder. He realized quickly that he wanted to stay and be a part of this team, even if it meant not testing the open market to see if he get more money.

The same could be said for Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka, Thabo Sefolosha, Nick Collison ... the list goes on and on.

The only time the Thunder Way didn't win out was with Jeff Green. The team offered him less than he wanted, and once both sides realized they were at impasse, the Thunder dealt him to the Celtics.

Green asked himself the question of whether he was willing to leave all this, and ultimately, he decided that he was.

Harden has to ask and answer the same question.

He talks often about his situation with Westbrook, who was in the same spot a year ago. Westbrook arrived at training camp without a contract extension, but he eventually signed a five-year, $80 million deal.

Even though those are big numbers, Westbrook actually sacrificed. He didn't hold out for a Derrick Rose contract, saving the Thunder a little over $3 million a year. He didn't demand an opt-out clause, helping secure the franchise's future.

Why'd he do all of that?

“I think we have something special here,” Westbrook said. “The organization. The fans. I don't think there's a team in the league that's like it.”

As Harden is talking to Westbrook, you can bet those are the type of things that are coming up.

Frankly, that's great news for the Thunder. Those kind of conversations are reminders to Harden about what he's already a part of, how special it is, how unique it is.

It's something, though, that he's already aware of.

“The support that I have here and that the Thunder has here is unreal,” Harden said. “I love this beautiful city.”

So, is he ready to leave all of this?

In the end, only Harden can answer that question, but if Monday was any indication, it sure seems the Thunder Way might ultimately hold some sway.

Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at (405) 475-4125 or at jcarlson@opubco.com. You can also like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.

by Jenni Carlson
Columnist
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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