One of the great misconceptions about potential championship contenders is the idea that if a team has the pieces in place, it will automatically thrash all comers. Whoa there. There are factors that might thwart the Thunder in the coming seasons, which threaten all clubs in that position.
An injury to a key player, of course, is the obvious one; just look at Chicago with Derrick Rose. There are personnel changes that sometimes might seem small but make a large difference — Sefolosha has two more seasons on his current deal until he’s a free agent, for instance.
And then there is the mental grind of vying for a title year after year. It’s fun and games when you’re hungry and competing for that first one. It’s a grueling survival course when you’re the target and everybody is attacking to seize what you have. That explains why most teams have trouble repeating.
NBA finals: Heat def. Thunder 4-1
Winderman: LeBron James has been a prodigy, superstar and villain. And now he's champion. The journey has left the league and Finals MVP humbled and happy for those closest to him.
Alas, the city of Seattle has had more than its share of roars in the clouds and bolts of bright light. But none since 2008 has involved professional basketball. The citizenry there can only look on with envy as the Thunder establishes OKC as a premium brand. That came about after some shenanigans and lawsuits, but what relocation in major professional sports hasn’t involved shenanigans and lawsuits?
No, the Thunder is there (in Oklahoma) to stay, and here (on the national stage) to stay. Other teams in the West will challenge, of course. The Grizzlies and Clippers are young and on the rise, while the Lakers, Spurs and Mavericks have championship intentions embedded in their DNA. Perhaps Minnesota, Portland, Houston and Denver will join the party, too.
But this moment in history is reserved for the Thunder, at least the Western half. You don’t have to worry about blinking and missing it. It’s a work of art, and masterpieces tend to remain on display for a while.
Michael Ventre is a regular contributor to NBCSports.com. Follow him on Twitter http://twitter.com/#!/MichaelVentre44.
The Pacers defeated the Heat 97-93 in Game 2 to even the series at 1-1, which now shifts to Indiana.
PBT: Pacers coach Frank Vogel said that the Heat have a more effective plan of attack against Roy Hibbert than the Knicks.
Video: NBA from NBC Sports
DPS: Is it really all about the rings?
DPS: Dan Patrick talks about Phil Jackson's comments about starting a team with Bill Russell now because of his championships and brings up the great question of, if it's all about championships, how come we don't talk about guys like Sam Jones, Frank Ramsey or John Havlicek who all have multiple rings?
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