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Same messages from different voices might have benefitted Thunder Olympians

Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Serge Ibaka are all bringing home medals — and maybe a few lessons, too.
by Berry Tramel Published: August 12, 2012

Not much of an off-season for the Thunder's marquee players. Let's see, the NBA Finals ended June 21, the Olympics ended Sunday and Thunder training camp starts in about five weeks.

That's wall-to-wall basketball. Good thing the Thunder legs have low mileage. If your franchise players are going to spend the summer playing for some other entity, at least you hope they get something out of it that benefits your organization.

And I don't mean three gold medals and a silver, even though that trumps three silvers and a gold, which would have occurred had Serge Ibaka's Spaniards not fallen short to the Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden Americans, 107-100.

Maybe a month playing for Mike Krzyzewski and his U.S. coaching staff, and with all-stars like LeBron, Carmelo, Pau Gasol, Kobe and Chris Paul, will help crystallize for the Thunder stars what they need to do to improve.

Or maybe not. The Baby Boomers have been notable for an exemplary attitude, void of arrogance, and remarkable improvement each year they've been together.

But when you keep hearing the same thing from the same voices, the lesson can be lost. A new coach, with a new twist on the same message, can make for fresher ears.

So what should the Thunder stars have learned from London? Here goes:

Durant: Shoot the ball. Much consternation has been spent the last couple of years over games in which Westbrook shoots more than does Durant. But when that happens, it's only half Westbrook's fault.

Durant is an admirable superstar. He is prone to sharing the ball and slow to take over games. But when Durant does commandeer the action, the results usually are quite impressive.

The Olympic stars, notably LeBron, were quick to lash Durant for passivity in London. Shoot the ball, he was told repeatedly, and finally the message sank in.

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by Berry Tramel
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,...
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