BY DARNELL MAYBERRY, Staff Writer, email@example.com •
Published: January 9, 2010
/articleid/3430837/1/pictures/811747"> When Kevin Durant dunks, it is never very flashy. The Thunder could be the most vanilla-dunking team in the NBA. PHOTO BY CHRIS LANDSBERGER, THE OKLAHOMAN
When asked, three of the team’s best dunkers, Green, Russell Westbrook and James Harden, said they’re not eager to exhilarate the Ford Center with a fancy flush.
For Westbrook, that means post-practice throw-downs that make media members drop their jaws and shake their heads could never escape the obscurity of the team’s training facility. A shame, really, because Westbrook routinely throws down dimes off the glass, high lob bounce passes to himself from three-quarters court and two-step windmills with the greatest of ease.
"You try a dunk in a game that you never tried before and you miss it, it can turn the game around,” Westbrook said. "360s and stuff like that, the defender basically has got to give up. You got to feel comfortable. You can’t try stuff like that when somebody’s chasing you.”
Last season at Golden State, Westbrook slammed an off-the-backboard alley-oop pass from Earl Watson, now with Indiana. It was the flashiest the Thunder has ever been. But as the Thunder has crept closer to establishing its identity, fewer and fewer showboating plays are being seen.
"I think that’s what makes us different from other teams,” said Harden. "We stick to the easy plan, and we get the job done. It’s a good thing. I guess that’s the type of players that they want here in this program.”
Harden, who already has posterized Houston’s David Andersen and Memphis’ Hasheem Thabeet, has his own reasons for forgoing a freestyle dunk.
"If you miss a dunk, especially for a rookie like me, you’re coming out of the game,” Harden said. "Butthat’s not my game anyway. My game is simple, getting the job done, going out there and making the easy play.”
Brooks boasted about his players’ respect for the game, about how no one on the roster seeks to show up an opponent and how each player understands the risk and ramifications associated with showing off.
"We’re a classy group of individuals,” Green said. "We like to do things the right way.”