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No time to panic — but the clock is ticking on the Thunder

by Jenni Carlson Published: June 1, 2014

Nick Collison called it a gut punch.

Russell Westbrook called it tough.

Kevin Durant said he has absolutely no idea how he’ll spend these next few weeks because he had no intention of having time off.

On the day that Thunder veterans went through exit interviews, both with franchise brass and assembled press, the disappointment over this season and its ending was palpable. This team had the loftiest of goals, and it fell short. Another season with great expectations ended without a championship.

Like it or not, the clock is ticking.

“What clock?” Westbrook asked when I asked. “What clock? There’s no clock.”

Well, actually, there is, Russell. It’s Father Time, and he stops for no one, not even you.

Maybe Westbrook can work on dunking even harder next season in an attempt to break the space-time continuum. Otherwise, nothing will stop the tick tock. Durant and Westbrook’s careers are a year shorter than they were a year ago today. Even if they spend their entire careers in Oklahoma City, their time in a Thunder uniform is another year down the road.

And still, no title.

So, as time passes and the trophy case lacks that be-all, end-all piece of hardware, is it time to panic?

There are fans and pundits alike who say yes, and their first suggestion about how to fix what ails the Thunder is to fire coach Scott Brooks.

Last season, he got something of a pass because of Westbrook’s knee injury. Lose one of your two best players — and one of the top 10 players on the planet — and it’s going to be tough sledding.

But this season, even with all the injuries — Westbrook, Thabo Sefolosha and Kendrick Perkins during the regular season, Serge Ibaka during the playoffs — Brooks is out of free passes. Thunder Nation is beyond restless but somewhere short of pitchforks-and-torches rioting.

Sunday morning, I asked Brooks if he feels his job is secure.

“It’s something I don’t even consider,” he said. “I just do my job every day.”

Then, Brooks got a little sentimental.

“I’ve had a lot of valuable lessons in my life from my mother,” he said of his late mother, Lee, who raised seven children on her own, “and she’s always told me this – ‘Do your job every day, and you live with the results.’”

The question is, will the Thunder live with his results? We’ll have to see, but Brooks has at least one important endorsement.

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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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