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Thunder players get together for voluntary minicamp in Austin

by Darnell Mayberry Published: September 18, 2011

The Thunder crew even got a cameo by San Antonio's Tim Duncan, a four-time champion, three-time Finals MVP, two-time league MVP and 13-time All-Star. Former All-Star and champion Michael Finley also made an appearance.

Think Durant & Co. learned a thing or two from them?

Think at some point over those four days, without a coach in sight, the Thunder got better?

Without a few abbreviated Twitter messages, however, no one would have ever known Thunder players were assembling in Texas. Even with them, few seem to grasp just how significant of a development it is.

For fans, knowledge of such gatherings by the Thunder can spark emotions of joy and pain. Joy because it serves as confirmation that the team's commitment is real, while also amplifying the anticipation for next season because this team really could be Finals bound. But the pain comes in when, once again, you're forced to come back to reality and accept that there might not be a 2011-12 NBA season at all.

Should the spats and penny-pinching pan out, though, the Thunder will be ready. The roster's college-like camaraderie served it well as it marched from a 23-win team to a Western Conference finalist, and it could be what gives it a leg up whenever the games start up again.

This, more than anything, is why folks near and far love the Thunder.

This, more than anything, is why the Thunder is creeping closer to a championship.

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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