Thunder players gathered after Wednesday's first practice, and the rookies lined up and sang happy 22nd birthday to All-Star forward Kevin Durant, who last season became the youngest scoring champion in NBA history.
Coach Scott Brooks shook his head in amazement at Durant's youth.
"Unbelievable. It's a great thing," Brooks said. "He's pretty good at 22. Can you imagine when he knows what he's doing? Special player. Special kid."
COLLISON KNOWS BEST
At age 29, power forward/center Nick Collison is the Thunder's second-oldest player. He is entering his seventh NBA season and has had three surgical procedures as a pro. He has endured setbacks before, but that doesn't make it any easier to sit out the beginning of training camp with a bruised bone in his left knee.
Collison had his right knee scoped on May 11 and was nearing the end of rehabilitation when pain began to linger in his left knee. Doctors recommended Collison sit out indefinitely to allow the left knee to heal with rest.
Asked how much he was struggling mentally with this latest setback, Collison said: "I wouldn't say struggling, but it is disappointing. I think I'm able to deal with it better now than I would have earlier in my career. I think I have a good sense of the big picture though, and realize where I want to get. I will eventually get there. I'm fairly confident of that. You always want to come in feeling great and start from Day 1, but it's just not the case."
LONG AND THE SHORT OF IT
Collison's hair is short but perhaps longer than it's been since his college days at Kansas. Collison jokingly said he is letting his hair grow and shaving his face more frequently because he wants to look appealing when his contract expires after this season.
"Hopefully some teams will think I'm a lot younger than I am," Collison deadpanned. "That's the plan."
The Thunder closed Wednesday's morning practice with its first live scrimmages of training camp, which were extremely intense.
"I like that," Brooks said. "That's what I told our guys first day when we met. 'The biggest (amount of) respect you can give your teammate is to challenge them.' You can't play 'buddy basketball' on the court and improve."
Brooks kiddingly labeled himself "pessimistic" at media day Monday for doubting his team would repeat its 27-win improvement from the previous season, which would mean the Thunder would go 77-5 this year.
Playfully asked if his players were angry at him for having such pessimism, Brooks smiled and said, "I don't know if I could go 77-5 against my own son (Chance) right now."
IBAKA BECOMES A 'HEAD' CASE
Forward Serge Ibaka is sporting a headband in training camp, and Brooks is not a fan of the look.
"I've been trying to say a bunch of negative things about it, but it hasn't helped," Brooks said. "I've talked about the size of his head, that it doesn't look good, but he likes it."
A ROSE IS A ROSE
Former NBA forward Malik Rose, who played for the Thunder for the final half of the 2008-09 season, will serve as a studio analyst for FOX Sports Oklahoma during road games and select home games.
Rose had a 13-year playing career, primarily with San Antonio and New York, and served as a studio analyst for the Knicks last year. He also was a color analyst for the Austin Toros of the NBA D-League.
Rose will team with either John Rhadigan or Dana Larson. The Thunder's Oct. 8 game against Miami in Kansas City will be the only preseason game broadcast by FOX Sports Oklahoma. The entire preseason will air over the radio.