Мнение 15 Фев 2020, 08:29

OKC isnt likely

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Flanked by Victor Oladipo and Steven Adams, Russell Westbrook stood central, holding the ball -- and a smile.Its the picture Westbrook has taken before each season over the past eight years, the visual representation of the Oklahoma City Thunders present and future. Except this time, he was the only thing that seemed the same. Gone is Kevin Durant. Gone is Serge Ibaka. Westbrook is the only starter that remains from the Thunder team that went to the NBA Finals in 2012. Other than Nick Collison, hes the only player from the inaugural team that relocated to Oklahoma City in 2008.This was the Thunders ninth media day in Oklahoma City, but the first of a whole new unknown world -- one without Durant. It wasnt as awkward as some anticipated, and Durants name wasnt on the tip of everyones tongue in the building. There were a handful of questions, but the theme of the day was clearly set on the future, not the past. The photo shoots and interviews proceeded with ample amounts of energy, with positivity and optimism reverberating off everything.At the heart of all that was Westbrook, who bounced around from station to station, shaking hands, photobombing everyone in sight, grinning ear-to-ear and cracking jokes with teammates and staff members.Last season, Westbrook made it an individual policy of sorts to turn down every one-on-one interview request. Even the most harmless requests were brushed off, like one to set up Russell Westbrook Night at UCLA, where he was having a practice court named after him. On Friday, Westbrook, whose curt and concise relationship with the media is well-documented, accepted every single request. Even one from a local radio host who relentlessly blasted Westbrook earlier in his career for not being a point guard. He didnt balk at questions. He didnt blow off reporters. He took everything completely head-on.It was clear: Westbrook was setting a tone.For the past eight years, Westbrook has relished the ability to share the responsibility of a franchise with Durant. Media days were where that was often most evident, with the affable and charming Durant taking the bulk of the requests, while Westbrook slunk back into the shadows, protected by the shield of his terse answers. Durant was the one everybody wanted. And Westbrook didnt mind that one bit.That baton has been passed to Westbrook, one that he has picked up and is running with full steam ahead. It started with him signing an extension in August -- stabilizing the franchise going forward -- and continued into media day, where he slapped a smile on his face and embraced the full burden of being the franchise flag bearer.Westbrook is the unquestioned leader now. Every player on the roster is fully aware of that and seems quite comfortable with it.He was our leader last year too, Enes Kanter said, the shade involved very apparent.Westbrooks leadership style is different from Durants, based a lot off of show and not tell, with the accountability of teammates coming from his unwavering competitive spirit and relentless work ethic. If you cant keep up with Russ, then you dont belong.Ronnie Price, a former teammate of Kobe Bryant, compared the two in a favorable way. But its hard not to wonder if Westbrook unfettered will turn the Thunder into a monarchy in the way Bryant did in the post-Shaq era. Theres a fine line between inspiring and inhibiting. Will free agents be drawn to a Westbrook-led team? Will a young roster grow and develop under his guidance? So far, all signs point to yes, but then again, the Thunder?havent played a game yet.Before I started working out with Russ, I think I kind of went into workouts just working out, said Oladipo, who spent a couple of weeks exercising with Westbrook in Los Angeles this summer. And after being with Russ for a few weeks, I realized that theres a purpose for everything that he does. Theres a purpose for every drill. Theres a purpose for every move. And Ive learned that those moves can translate to the game, if, and only if, you let them translate.After working with Russ, Oladipo said, I can see the intensity in how serious he was about his craft.Westbrook and the Thunder have spent the past three months licking their wounds. Mentally, the organization moved on rather quickly, pragmatically approaching next steps after Durant departed. That started with Westbrook asking the front office, Whats next? within hours of Durants announcement.Emotionally, though, there have been challenges because of the investment in the Westbrook and Durant tandem. The roster was surgically crafted to fit their styles, to complement the way they complement each other. The strategic planning, set up to align with the primes of their core, was finally coming into view. Then Durant left, and a gutted franchise had to look for a path forward.The Thunders rebuild was brief, a 30-day purgatory of unknowns until Westbrook re-upped. Most franchises that experience the kind of loss the Thunder did spend three or four years waiting for that kind of day. The Thunder waited a month. That carried over to media day, where there was a signal the organization is turning a page from those hard feelings. Durant wasnt the theme of the day; the future was.There arent delusions of grandeur inside the organization that the Thunder will pick up where they left off. Theres a clear and present understanding of their new situation. They have to restructure and retool, and while Westbrook said his expectation is to win this season, the prosperity of the past six years in OKC isnt likely to continue. At least not immediately.But they arent wiping the slate clean to start over. Theres no tanking for OKC. Because theres no need. Aside from Westbrook, theres already a roster full of under-25s, all with potential waiting to be realized.The Thunder felt good on Friday. But theyre a month away from a competitive game. They dont know what this team is going to look like. They dont know whos filling the two empty starting spots vacated by Durant and Ibaka. But they do know they have Russell Westbrook, fully committed and invested -- and ready to take it all head-on.And thats a pretty good start.Custom Anaheim Ducks Jerseys .C. -- Calgarys Kevin Koe did it the hard way again. John Gibson Jersey . The Oilers come in having lost five in a row (0-4-1) and 16 of their last 20 games, dropping a 2-1 decision to the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday. https://www.cheapducks.com/217c-chris-pronger-jersey-ducks.html . Self was acquired from the Buffalo Bandits in a trade for Alex Hill midway through last season, and made his debut in Rochester on March 16, 2013. Fake Ducks Jerseys . He just needed to be his best twisting, turning acrobatic self. "I didnt need to be anybody else, I just needed to be myself and be aggressive," said Burks, who scored a career-high 34 points to spark the Utah Jazz to a 118-103 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Monday night. Samuel Pahlsson Jersey . Fred Couples, captain of the U.S. side, put it all into perspective. "We know whos in charge," he said. ' ' '