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Thunder players get together for voluntary minicamp in Austin

by Darnell Mayberry Published: September 18, 2011
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If at any point over the past three seasons you've doubted the Thunder's chemistry and camaraderie, the events of last week should destroy all remaining disbelief.

Despite the NBA lockout threatening to postpone the regularly-scheduled start of training camp, 10 of the Thunder's projected 15-man roster got together for what became a voluntary minicamp.

It happened two weeks before camp is scheduled to start. It took place in Austin, Texas on the campus of the University of Texas. It lasted four days.

Without a single coach, front-office or support staff member permitted to be in attendance because of lockout rules, two-thirds of the roster traveled to Texas to play pickup and, as the Thunder is fond of saying, ‘Get better every day.'

No other team has shown that level of commitment this summer.

According to the Twitter account of forward Nick Collison, veteran guard Royal Ivey organized the meet up. Both Ivey and Kevin Durant are Texas alums who return to Austin to work out for stretches each summer. Together, they tag-teamed last week as hosts to their teammates.

Ivey, Durant and Collison were joined by James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Nazr Mohammed, Eric Maynor, Cole Aldrich, Daequan Cook and rookie Reggie Jackson.

Of the five who were absent, Serge Ibaka is competing overseas, Thabo Sefolosha resides in his native Switzerland in the offseason and Byron Mullens was busy, well, enjoying his newlywed status. Nate Robinson and Kendrick Perkins also were not in attendance.

While unsubstantiated reports of a rift between Westbrook and Perkins lingered as the headline on the popular rumor-based website Hoopshype.com on Saturday, the Thunder's voluntary minicamp failed to receive a single mention. But quietly, taking place in Austin, according to Mohammed, were ‘The best pickup games in America.'

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by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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