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Why the clock is ticking on the Thunder

COMMENTARY — While OKC's core players are still young, every year that passes means the championship window inches closer to the sill.
by Berry Tramel Published: May 16, 2013

“It was unfortunate that Russell got hurt. I think obviously it hurt us and hurt our chances. I think we competed to the best of our abilities, and Memphis outplayed us. They were a better team than us this season. But every year is an opportunity. You don't know how many you're going to get.”

Westbrook's injury taught us that. You can't count on the future. A torn meniscus. A bad bounce. LeBron playing out of his mind. Who knows what could keep Oklahoma City from being Titletown in some distant NBA playoffs?

Durant, Westbrook and Ibaka indeed are still young. LeBron's first title didn't come until he was 27. Michael Jordan didn't win until he was 28. But Karl Malone's and John Stockton's title never came.

Thus every season should be cherished. Every year with an elite roster should be considered nothing but precious opportunity.

“You got to go through some tough times to get to where you want to get to,” Durant said. “Everybody's been through them. All the best teams, all the great players, they've been through tough times. So I wouldn't say it's a lost opportunity. We learned a lot. And once you start to learn, you start to get better each and every year, and I think that's what happened with us.”

Absolutely the Thunder got better this season. The Heat was and is a big favorite to repeat. But the Thunder was favored over the Heat last June in the Finals. The Thunder certainly could have made a run at the championship this season.

But then Westbrook went down, and opportunity was lost. The Thunder will have many more chances. But the number of years is not infinite. The clock is ticking.

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at btramel@opubco.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.

by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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