A pivotal point in the Thunder's proverbial process has arrived this week and will be worth remembering once Oklahoma City begins competing for championships.
Over the next six days, out in scorching Las Vegas, three Thunder players will gain invaluable experience while training with the USA Basketball Men's National Team.
And over the next two months, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Jeff Green could learn lessons that will shape the rest of their careers.
This week, Oklahoma City's trio will be competing against the best up-and-coming talent the NBA has to offer as the U.S. team prepares for the 2010 FIBA World Championship, which will be held in Istanbul, Turkey, from Aug. 28-Sept. 12.
As the only team with three players at this week's training camp, the Thunder's organization is expected to take center stage. And with all 12 gold medalists from the 2008 Olympics declining to participate because of contract matters, injuries or personal reasons, Durant seemingly will supplant LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade as the face of Team USA as it enters into international competition.
Durant already has been chosen by USA Basketball Chairman Jerry Colangelo as a member of the team that will compete in Turkey. If Westbrook and Green are able to make the cut and join their teammate, the international spotlight will shine bright on the city of Oklahoma City as well, delivering on all the "big-league city" promises that were made when city officials first pitched the idea of acquiring a permanent NBA franchise.