You have to feel awful for the Oklahoma City Thunder and their fans. For now, it looks like they will go down as one of the greatest teams never to win an NBA championship.
In Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, they’ve had two of the 10 best players in the NBA for five of the last six years (Durant was hurt last year). This year, they’re two of the five best. Yet like the Golden Era Bills who ran up against the Redskins and Cowboys, the Thunder keep being denied by some of the great all-time teams.
OKC lost to LeBron James and the Heat in the Finals in 2012, the great Spurs in the Western final in 2014 and now the Warriors in the Western final this year. The Thunder defense was wonderful in the playoffs. It forced the Spurs – the Spurs! – to take bad shot after bad shot. It pushed Golden State to the brink.
The OKC window will close if Durant leaves in free agency this summer. Think of great near-miss NBA teams. The Patrick Ewing Knicks. The Charles Barkley Suns. The Gary Payton-Shawn Kemp Sonics. OKC is more talented than any of them.