Soon after the Boston Celtics traded for Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett back in 2007, their completely revamped roster packed a plane and headed overseas for a preseason trip.
Less than nine months later, a cohesive and talented veteran unit was back in the states, fresh off an impressive 66-win season, celebrating their first and only championship together on the Garden floor.
In the aftermath of that emotional title, many of the central figures, particularly Garnett and coach Doc Rivers, pointed back to that preseason trip as the reason their roster full of first-year Celtics came together so quick.
“Their cellphones didn't work, so they actually had to talk to each other on the bus,” Rivers joked to reporters about the trip.
It's a history lesson the Thunder can learn from this week.
OKC's players, coaches and support staff left for Turkey on Wednesday afternoon, not scheduled to return to Oklahoma City until next Wednesday, with two games and a stop in Manchester in between.
This isn't a team filled with newcomers, like that 2007 Celtics bunch. Quite the opposite, actually, with 12 players returning from last year's Thunder squad.
But it's the first time this franchise has ventured overseas for a preseason trip since relocating to OKC. And it provides a unique opportunity to immediately bond.
“We handle our business on the floor, we come to work every single day, no matter where we are,” Kevin Durant said. “But being in another country, we know nothing about Istanbul, we don't know the people, we don't know the language, so we'll have to rely on each other. And I'm looking forward to that.”
Derek Fisher, a 17-year veteran who has experienced just about everything in this game, admitted the trip can be “disruptive” from a training standpoint, but invaluable for team chemistry.
“You immediately get time together as just a small group of people and you immediately go into the bunker as basketball players, coaches and training staff and that's it,” Fisher said. “So right from the beginning of the season, you walk right into the bunker and you don't have to come out once you get back from Europe.”
ORTHOPEDIC SURGEON FROM LA BETTER EXPLAINS WESTBROOK'S INJURY
On Tuesday afternoon, Dr. Robert Klapper, an orthopedic surgeon based out of Southern California, went on the radio show ESPN LA Now to provide a detailed explanation of why Russell Westbrook's initial meniscus tear takes longer than usual to heal.
“I want you to think of the meniscus as a slice of apple pie,” Klapper explained. “If you tear the meniscus where the tip of the slice is, we clean it up and you're playing within a few weeks. But in the case of Russell Westbrook, he tore his meniscus where the crust of the slice is. That's in an area where we try to repair it when it tears there because there's good circulation. We call it the red-red zone. Those are the cases, where when you operate, you got to keep the person on crutches, protect their weight-bearing and they're not coming back right away.
“What do they say about real estate?,” Klapper continued. “Location, location, location. When we are talking about the lateral meniscus, the meniscus on the outside of your knee, versus the medial meniscus, the difference between the two is the lateral meniscus gets all the rotational pivoting when you make maneuvers. And that is Russell Westbrook's game. It's not just a pounding structure, it's actually a rotatory stabilizer. So his game is absolutely going to be impacted because it's the lateral meniscus and not the medial meniscus.”
— Thabo Sefolosha, when asked what kind of strange questions the younger players are asking about international travel: “Some basics. International phones, how does it work? Can I bring my Play Station or is it going to explode? Just some interesting questions.”