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OKC Thunder: ESPN's Jeff Van Gundy says Thunder 'championship-caliber' but turnovers are problematic

ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy doesn't buy the Thunder-Heat game as an NBA Finals preview, but he says both teams are championship-caliber teams.
by Jenni Carlson Published: March 25, 2012
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Why do you say that?

Watch him play. You can focus ... on the 1 percent you think you'd like to see changed, or you can focus in on, “This guy is an incredible basketball player.” You just look at him across the numbers and how he impacts winning, and this guy is a big-time winner. I don't think any point guard in basketball has played better than him this year.

So, why do you think there are those people who want to focus on that 1 percent, as you say, about Westbrook's game?

To ignore the facts? I don't know. I think it's the same with LeBron James. Not the level, but people for whatever reason when they get a perception in their head, they stick with that despite the truth. So, to me when you look at Westbrook, first of all he's there every game. I don't know if it's because (naysayers) think he should get the ball more, but man, Durant leads the league in scoring. He's got the ball enough. If they didn't have a guy like Westbrook scoring, that starting lineup that they play wouldn't work. They don't have a lot of firepower in that starting lineup. I don't understand (why people target Westbrook). People are talking about what he needs to do as a point guard. The guy never did it until he was a pro. That'd be like in professional football being a running back, and then them saying, “All right, you're a quarterback. Have no hiccups along the way.” I find it foolish.

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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FAR AND WIDE

The interest in this Thunder-Heat game went beyond Oklahoma City and Miami. It even went beyond the U.S. border.

Here's a look at where some of the media types came from:

China: Four different Chinese outlets had reporters at the game — Basketball Pioneers, Hoop, Sina and Netease.com.

France: Canal+, a premium pay television channel in France, had two people credentialed for the game.

Switzerland: Thabo Sefolosha regularly draws media from his homeland. Two came to Sunday's game from Neve Luezerner Zeitung, a Swiss regional newspaper in Lucerne.

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