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OKC Thunder: James Harden, Russell Westbrook going back to Cali

The Thunder's California Connection rooted for the Lakers as kids. Now they're trying to beat L.A. in the Western Conference semifinals and get a parade of their own.
by Darnell Mayberry Modified: May 18, 2012 at 4:03 pm •  Published: May 17, 2012

“Yeah, I think all of us did,” Harden said. “You guys did, too.”

It's a special matchup for Harden and Westbrook.

Westbrook, who was 12, 13 and 14 when the Lakers enjoyed their three-peat, remembers the pandemonium of the run.

“It was fun,” Westbrook said. “I was trying to get to the parade. I missed school and all that.”

Westbrook attended two of the enormous celebrations back then, just another kid in a sea of purple and gold trying to get a glimpse of the Lakers' stars. He went with his mother, a cousin and an aunt.

Of course, Westbrook's favorite memory from those celebrations was Shaq, the larger-than-life center who leaned over, propped himself against the Larry O'Brien Trophy and bellowed into a mic that looked minuscule in his huge hands.

“Once again, we love you,” Shaq told the crowd, with a 12-year-old Westbrook listening intently from somewhere. “Like Kobe said, the trophy is home and where it belongs, and we're going to get another one next year … Can youuuu dig it?”

Now, it seems a bit surreal to Westbrook to be on the same stage as the Lakers.

“It's crazy, man, how time passes,” Westbrook said. “And they still have some of the same players there still.”

Westbrook says now that he doesn't reminisce on those days with Harden, not even with Fisher, a spot starter at point guard on those Lakers teams, now a member of the Thunder.

“We try to just leave it alone and remain in the present,” Westbrook said.

Their conversations these days, Westbrook said, are all about the Thunder.

“I get a chance to have a parade of my own now.”

by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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Thunder at Lakers

When: 9:30 p.m. Friday

Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles

TV: ESPN (Cox 29, HD Ch. 720).

Radio: WWLS 98.1-FM, WWLS 640-AM

Three things to know

*After scoring 119 points in Game 1, the Thunder scored just 77 points in Game 2.

*Games 3 and 4 are a back-to-back set. The Lakers went 9-9 in the first game of a back-to-back in the regular season and 10-9 in the second or third game. The Thunder went 15-4 on the first night of back-to-backs in the regular season and 14-6 on the second or third night of a back-to-back.

*When losing Games 1 and 2 of a best-of-seven series, the Lakers are 2-17. The last time the Lakers won a best-of-seven series after trailing 2-0 was the 2004 conference semifinals against San Antonio.

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