NORMAN — They were supposed to be the makings of a dynasty. Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden were the foundation Oklahoma City built its championship aspirations on.
But after losing to Miami in the NBA Finals last season, that foundation came apart when Harden was traded to the Houston Rockets for Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb and draft picks. It took place Oct. 27 with the majority of Thunder fans watching the Oklahoma Sooners lose to Notre Dame on the gridiron.
“I was at the football game,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “I had a feeling it could potentially happen. But when it happened, I wished James well and welcomed our new players. It’s as simple as that. That’s part of the business ... without being cold to the situation, you have to move on.”
That night could have went down in history as the day the Thunder’s dream of a dynasty went up in smoke. However, Brooks said his team is made of stronger mettle than that.
“The guys that have been here for four or five years now, they understand what we do and we’ve been together and we just continue to push the team forward with a no-excuse mentality,” Brooks said. “This league can set you up for a lot of excuses. Whether you have an injury, you have a trade, you don’t make excuses. You do your job and have that no-excuses mentality.”
Like his coach, Durant doesn’t publicly dwell much on the Harden trade. He was surprised like everyone else the night it happened, but as the leader of a franchise with title aspirations, he knew the faster he got over it, the faster the rest of the team would as well.
“That was so long ago and so much stuff has happened since then,” Durant said. “We got Kevin Martin in, guys have gotten better. James has moved on.”