Thunder might be NBA sweethearts now, but that could change quickly

BY JOHN ROHDE, Staff Writer, jrohde@opubco.com Modified: April 28, 2011 at 7:58 pm •  Published: April 28, 2011

The naivety of the Congo's Serge Ibaka at times can be misinterpreted, but his finger-waving act after blocking a shot – a la Dikembe Mutombo – has no language barrier.

Kendrick Perkins' anger has resulted in 13 technical fouls in just 34 games (including 12 with Boston).

Even the revered Kevin Durant has copped an attitude at times with four technicals this season.

All this coincides with the Thunder's amazing ascent since its horrendous debut in 2008-09.

"Exactly. That's what happens when you start being good and people recognize that," Thunder guard Thabo Sefolosha said. "There's a lot of good that comes with being a good team, but also a lot of people who want to say stuff about you and about your team. We can't be too worried about what people say."

When has a bad team ever been called cocky? Even if it were true, it wouldn't matter because the team stinks.

The better a team gets, the more confident it becomes. Some people view confident and cocky as the same.

"We're confident, not cocky," barked reserve guard Daequan Cook, who was with the Miami Heat his first three seasons. "There's a difference."

Center Nazr Mohammed, the Thunder's elder statesman at age 33, joined the roster on Feb. 24 in a trade with Charlotte. He brings wisdom and objectivity to the subject.

"These guys aren't cocky," Mohammed said without hesitation. "No one on this team is more cocky than anyone else in this league. This league is full of guys who are confident in their skills. There's nobody on this team who's cocky. We're confident. We're as confident as any other team. We know that we're a good team. We have good players, and when we come and play ball the right way, we have an opportunity to beat anybody.

"If that's cocky, then call us cocky."

The trick is being able to take perceptions in stride, whether they're true or false.

"I used to get worked up about that when I was a younger player, but now you realize it doesn't mean anything," said the 30-year-old Collison. "There'll be another story tomorrow."

John Rohde: 475-3099. John Rohde can be heard Monday-Friday from 6-7 p.m. on The Sports Animal Network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1.



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