Berry Tramel

NewsOK | BLOGS

Oklahoma City Thunder: Time to fight through adversity

by Berry Tramel Modified: October 2, 2013 at 8:25 pm •  Published: October 2, 2013

 Last year, we thought we had a chance to win it,” Presti said. “We were really hitting our stride but that is sports. We have to adapt and adjust”

“I feel comfortable saying, we’re going to be good for awhile but in order to achieve that we will have to remain resilient and committed to our vision for the team and organization.”

“We’re going to get him back and we’re going to march forward,” Presti said. “He’s going to come back, he’s going to be rusty, he’s going to have some rough nights, but that is a necessary part of the process. We want to be playing our best basketball at the end of the season, that has always been an organizational goal.”

“If we want to be a great organization, and I think we can be one day, part of that is absorbing these hits, recovering, and pressing forward with resolve.”

 

I chatted with Sam Presti last night, a few hours after the Thunder had announced another knee surgery for Russell Westbrook, which the team says will sideline the superstar point guard for 4-6 weeks of the regular season.

For the Wednesday Oklahoman, I wrote about the new reality for Oklahoma City’s NBA team, which is that nothing will come easy for the Thunder, and those halcyon days of a couple of years ago have given way to the realization that it’s always going to be an uphill climb to a championship. You can read that column here.

Presti agreed that it’s a hard truth, but it also reinforces his belief that the Thunder is doing things the right way.

Building for sustainability. Not giving in to shortcuts. Expand your chances for success, rather than condensing your chances.

No doubt the loss of Westbrook is a regular-season blow and could cost the Thunder playoff seeding position come spring. But the Thunder plan doesn’t revolve around one season. Make short-term decisions, then a major injury, like Westbrook’s, which cost the Thunder his services in the 2013 playoffs and now at the beginning of the next season, and bad news is catastrophic. Make long-term decisions, and bad news doesn’t have to be fatal.

That’s not to say the Thunder could easily shake off the 2013 playoffs. That was missed opportunity, no doubt about it.

“Last year, we thought we had a chance to win it,” Presti said. “We were really hitting our stride but that is sports. We have to adapt and adjust”

But no team is going to survive long in the playoffs without one of its superstars. The key is to fight through adversity, even when that adversity means losing.

And things don’t always go well. A James Harden leaves. A Westbrook gets hurt. A draft pick doesn’t pan out. You get a bad call.’o get a bad call.

“I feel comfortable saying, we’re going to be good for awhile, but in order to achieve that we will have to remain resilient and committed to our vision for the team and organization,” Presti said.

So the Westbrook injury isn’t devastating, going forward. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt. A Westbrook injury hurts more when you’re good.

But situations like this also can validate franchises. The Thunder didn’t excel without Westbrook in the playoffs; neither did the Boomers wither. OKC survived Houston in the first round, then actually played fairly strong against Memphis but failed to finish down the stretch of games. The Grizzlies took out the Thunder in five games, all of which were close and decided in the final minute or so.

The adversity won’t end once Westbrook returns.

“We’re going to get him back and we’re going to march forward,” Presti said. “He’s going to come back, he’s going to be rusty, he’s going to have some rough nights, but that is a necessary part of the process. We want to be playing our best basketball at the end of the season. That has always been an organizational goal.

“If we want to be a great organization, and I think we can be one day, part of that is absorbing these hits, recovering, and pressing forward with resolve.”

 


by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
+ show more


Trending Now


AROUND THE WEB

  1. 1
    Restaurant receipt gives 15 percent discount for 'Praying in Public'
  2. 2
    Former rommate says Michael Sam has changed
  3. 3
    Giraffe Dies After Hitting Head On Highway Bridge
  4. 4
    Scientists reveal secrets of ancient ship found beneath World Trade Center ruins
  5. 5
    This Japanese Island Has More Cats Than People *Squeals*
+ show more