NBA Finals: Serge Ibaka gets his message across to Thunder

Ibaka, the man of many languages, gives his teammates a loud — and clear — pep talk.
by Mike Sherman Published: June 20, 2012

Bruised left hand and all.

Said Harden, “All the little things like that help me, helps everybody in the locker room, have that positive energy we need right now.”

There are no NBA models for what the Thunder is attempting. None of the 13 teams that trailed 3-1 even forced a Game 7.

Presti, a son of New England and a lifelong Boston Red Sox fan, could evoke the 2004 Bosox' rally from a 3-0 deficit against the Yankees in the American League Championship series.

Ibaka could be Kevin Millar, warning everyone, “Don't let us win tonight.” Harden's bruised hand could stand for Curt Schilling's bloody sock. LeBron James' Miami Heat could play the role of Alex Rodriguez's Yankees. But that's not the Thunder Way.

Here's what is:

It's Kevin Durant talking about playing for “a city that never gives up,” a city longing for a Game 6 in Chesapeake Energy Arena. OK, for a Game 7, too.

It's tuning out the noise and analysis and remembering Oklahoma City had a shot to tie or lead in the final 67 seconds of all three loss to Miami. This is as close as a 3-1 series can be.

It's having its young stars — Durant, Harden and Russell Westbrook — in attack mode and getting the ball in their hands with the game on the line.

Will it work? Does the Thunder have what it takes to write a historic comeback? Does Harden need to follow ESPN's Jalen Rose's advice and shave his beard?

“They're always dangerous,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Come on, this series has been decided by four or five plays every single game.

“It still comes down to making those winning plays. These are months of habits of building it, and you can't over think it. At that point in the moment of truth you've got to trust your instincts and just make it happen.”


by Mike Sherman
Sports Editor
Mike Sherman is sports editor of The Oklahoman, where he has a combined 18 years of service during two stints as a writer and an editor. He covered high school sports for The Oklahoman from 1984-93. He also worked as a news writer for the...
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