Did Durant celebrate too soon?
With OKC leading the San Antonio Spurs 105-99 in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals on Wednesday night, Thunder All-Star Kevin Durant went over to the courtside seat of his mother, Wanda Pratt, for a family hug as Chesapeake Energy Arena erupted in celebration.
Trouble was, there were still 14.6 seconds left on the clock.
Teammate James Harden sank two free throws to make it 107-99, which wound up being the final score as the Thunder clinched the series to advance to NBA Finals.
Some national media criticized Durant for celebrating too soon. Pratt herself wondered if they had celebrated too soon.
Thunder coach Scott Brooks, who himself was trying to remain composed at that moment, said he did not notice the Durant celebration.
Asked if Durant had rejoiced too soon, Brooks smiled and said: “He might have waited one more possession. I think that as a coach. But as a player, it doesn't work that way.”
Located roughly 20 feet away from the Durant family hug was TNT analyst Reggie Miller, who scored eight points in 8.9 seconds in Game 1 of the 1995 Eastern Conference semifinals in a shocking comeback victory over the New York Knicks.
“Well, if you look at it that way …” Brooks said, his voice tailing off.
Brooks was a member of the 1994 Houston Rockets world championship team.
What is more rewarding, being on a team in the NBA Finals, or being in charge of a team in the NBA Finals?
“It's always better to play. It's always better,” Brooks said. “You play 48 minutes, you lose, you blame it on the coach. You win, you get all the credit.
“As a player, there's nothing like it. Coaching, you take it with you. You have to let it (a loss) go and move on to the next game. They pile up and you always refer back to that … But the players, they forget about it until they go to the next game. They remember they had a good game, but they don't remember they had a bad game, which is always good.
“They both are rewarding.”
A GIANT LEAP
The Thunder finished 23-59 in its first season of existence and three years later has advanced to the NBA Finals.