Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Unlike the first time they met in the playoffs in 2010, the Oklahoma City Thunder annihilated the Los Angeles Lakers Monday night.The Lakers were no match for Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and company.
The Thunder made Kobe Bryant and the Lakers look incredibly slow and old on their way to a 119-90 throttling.
It appears the Western Conference’s torch has clearly been passed, as OKC is primed for another deep playoff run that may very likely end in an NBA title this time around.
Interest in a full time NBA franchise located in Oklahoma City began when the New Orleans Hornets played their home games there after Hurricane Katrina (2005-07)
An Oklahoma City-based group purchased the Supersonics after the team couldn't come to an agreement with the city and state on a modern update for their Seattle arena
The Sonics were purchased under the premise they would remain in Seattle, but no one really believed it. The new owners said they couldn't come to a deal with the city and bolted for OKC in 2008
Prior to their inaugural season in OKC, the still named Supersonics handed reigning NBA Rookie of the Year Kevin Durant a back court mate when they drafted Russell Westbrook
The Thunder's first season in OKC got off to a very rocky 3-29 start, but they began to show improvements with a 20-30 finish in 2008-09
Chesapeake Energy and its CEO Aubrey McClendon, mired in debt problems and other issues, owns nearly 20 per cent of the Thunder. McClendon and company have come under fire for inflating ticket sale numbers by purchasing hundreds of tickets to every game
Success came earlier than expected when the young Thunder qualified for the playoffs in 2010. They put fear into the defending champ Lakers by taking them to 6 games in the first round
Just like the small market Sacramento Kings did in their heyday, the Thunder have made their arena THE place to be in town
OKC's rise to the top accelerated at a quick pace as Durant led them to the Western Conference Finals in 2011. They lost to eventual champion Dallas in five games
Despite their denials, there have been rumblings Durant and Westbrook don't get along, but the team is committed to both as they each are locked in to a max-deal contract
modelled after the San Antonio Spurs, the Thunder have done more than just lock up their big stars. They've surrounded their All-Star tandem with good players like Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins too
Durant and Westbrook's biggest help, though, is 2012 Sixth Man of the Year James Harden. The spark plug Harden provides off the bench is akin to Manu Ginobili's role with the Spurs
The fun-loving Thunder hit the big time when SI Swimsuit model Kate Upton appeared in a commercial with Durant and Westbrook in 2012
This dunk from OKC's Game 1 victory over the Lakers tells you everything you need to know about how lopsided these Western Conference Semifinals will be
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