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NBA Finals: How the Thunder rose from the dredges of 3-29 to the NBA Finals

COMMENTARY — The Oklahoma City Thunder worked its way back from the edge of a historic level of losing to the heights not even the sappiest soul could imagine.
by Berry Tramel Published: June 10, 2012

And Brooks was asked to coach it on the fly.

“You definitely don't dream about being the coach of the worst team in history,” Brooks said. “Trust me, there were a lot of nightmares over that month-and-a-half when we were flirting with that nine-win total.”

But Brooks swears it was bearable because of the work. The work and the attitude and the franchise philosophy.

“When we were 3-29, they still treated us as champions, and our players felt that,” Brooks said of Sam Presti's organization. “Kevin, Nick and Russell, they did not deserve to have that.

“Nothing's tougher than going through that type of losing. But looking back at it kind of helps you through a lot of situations … being able to stay together and stay positive and to be able to overcome that is always going to help moving forward.”

Losing breeds a certain culture. Players build defensive mechanisms. They quit caring so much, because caring coupled with constant losing hurts. Hurts so bad, it's easier to just quit caring.

Brooks claims those temptations never seeped in to the lowly Thunder.

“A lot of times of times when you have a bad record, the work the next day in practice shows that you have a bad record,” Brooks said. “But it never showed. You would have never guessed we were 3-29 the way they were attacking each practice and looking forward to challenging each other to get better.”

Easy to say now. But also easy to believe, because we saw the results. The Thunder did improve dramatically. The Thunder did get better and better. The Thunder did reach heights that not even the sappiest soul could imagine so quickly.

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at 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

by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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