Again, this doesn't happen. Superstars force-fed a bitter defeat like this one have been known to flee the court, often. Just a few weeks ago, when the Miami Heat vanquished the Boston Celtics in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Boston's Kevin Garnett, the so-called greatest leader in American team sports, hit the exit before the game ended. His point guard, Rajon Rondo, was close behind.
LeBron himself has been known to storm off, skipping handshakes and congratulations. Not these guys.
They thanked everyone, including the media.
“We have a group of men that I enjoy leading, and it's a family,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks explained, proud, impressed but not the least bit surprised at how his team conducted itself.
“They act like men off the court, something that everybody should be proud of, not just me but the people who love the game of basketball and love NBA basketball. We've got a great group of guys that believe in team, believe in work, and I'm proud to coach them, and I love what they're about.
“You guys know Kevin, but just down the line, we've got 15 men that do it for each other every night.”
And when all the hugging, crying and congratulating ended just before midnight in Miami, it felt less like the end of a season and more like the start of something else.