Kevin Durant getting bullied by ruffians from Memphis and Dallas. Russell Westbrook enduring coast-to-coast criticism and a fourth-quarter benching.
Dirk playing the game of his life (48 points) and Durant playing the worst game of his life (Memphis Game 6).
“We've been through a lot,” Durant said. “Playing a seven-game series, being down 3-1, laying it all on the line, being up 3-1. It was a great experience.”
What did Durant learn? “Know every possession, every point, every rebound, is important,” he said. “I learned a lot. Russell learned a lot. James learned a lot.”
Barring LeBron James collusion or natural order of Laker and Celtic selection, this is the way you win in the NBA. Paying dues.
Taking playoff lumps, surviving some, others not, collecting dirt under fingernails and calluses on hands.
Michael Jordan made the playoffs his first six years in the league and had one series victory. Isiah Thomas won one playoff series his first four years in the NBA, then reached the East finals in Year 5, the NBA Finals in Year 6 and the throne in Year 7. David Robinson won two playoff series his first five years and finally won the NBA title in his 10th season.
The Thunder progress is in overdrive. The Thunder is paying on the principle. These playoffs will pay off in Oklahoma City for years to come.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.