Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The 'Durantula' Kevin Durant Hijacks NBA's Spectacle, Thunder Will Beat Lakers

We’re witnessing an NBA postseason of drama with an unexpected franchise that resides in Oklahoma City, where the crowd intensifies the loudest frenzy at Ford Center, arguably the most clamorous building in the league. Whoever predicted that an erratic postseason would be entertained with action-packed, dramatic performances from Kevin Durant, the league’s youngest scoring champ and now the potential Most Valuable Player?

All of this frightens the Los Angeles Lakers, the defending champs who are bullied, harassed and tortured by a young and inexperienced franchise with nothing to lose. In a probable upset, the Thunder is testing the Lakers mentality and brings out Kobe Bryant’s age, when the recent letdowns and ineffectual shot attempts unmask that he’s aging and breaking down physically. The nagging injuries makes the Black Mamba appears as if he’s the oldest veteran remaining in the league, close to retiring and hanging his No. 24 jersey in the rafters of Staples Center.

While the Lakers gently recede, the Thunder ripens as a serious contender and scares a community, yet awaiting another championship banner to add title No. 17 and embark on a celebration in a city accustomed to winners. However, let us rise and appease the flourishing Oklahoma City Thunder, a compelling team alarming us all with heart, diligence, maturity and unthinkable capacity to take down the defending champs in the biggest and craziest upset in NBA history. It’s amazing and stunning to see the Lakers deteriorate tremendously and deliver perplexing riddles, leaving us guessing and utterly befuddled.

Each year, the cumulative effects are different and appealing, especially when young athletes develop faster than usual. It vindicates that NBA’s slogan advertises everything the league offers, overwhelming us with dazzling series. It’s an association “Where Amazing Happens.” And this postseason, it’s the Thunder nearing the improbable, quickly legitimizing its own fate and making all people gather an assumption that Oklahoma City isn’t a mirage or undervalued. Like never before, the Thunder is real, dominating the most talented team at will, humiliating and demoralizing a team with powerful depth and the greatest scorer on earth.

This time, the Thunder is recognized as a premier franchise, braced and glorified when Oklahoma City never earned account during the regular-season. And with an impressive postseason run, it’s only appropriate to believe the Thunder can beat the Lakers. Lately, L.A. is soft with an apathetic mindset, when it consists of all the ingredients to thrash the hell out of a near-developed and inexperienced team. It’s a whole different scenario at this point, when it’s fair to greatly eulogize matured youth. What makes the Thunder unique is Durant’s impact on his prosperous team, expanding and advancing to new heights this postseason, in which it has caused trouble.

Fear Durantula.

As he’s portrayed as the heart and soul of a team quickly emerging, he’s a humbled sporting figure. His tremendous talent has allowed him to excel in a league where big-name players were fearful, but it turns out Durant is alarming, too. The consensus in an incredible upstart is that he’s already a superstar and MVP nominee, when his fascinating season assured prosperity in the next few years. In some ways, the Thunder amounted to the stature of superiority in a season it clinched an eighth-seeded berth and qualified to play in the postseason, meeting the disinterested Lakers in the first-round. The noisiest crowd, the one-sided energy of younger and faster legs ran the defending champs out of the building forlorn and petulantly worried.

And so here they are again, taking games for granted. It has been painful to watch the Lakers, who aren’t physical or shooting effectively. Leave it to the Thunder. In what felt like a Game 7, Oklahoma City embarrassed the visitors badly in a 110-89 rout Saturday. That’s evidence the Lakers are weakened and defenseless against the Thunder’s unstoppable speed.

It’s rational an upset looms in an unpredictable best-of-seven series, unless Phil Jackson arranges his tactics and maneuvers a defensive foundation that a pesky Thunder team cannot study and outsmart. It’s the transition style offense that slaughters the Lakers of late, unable to dictate the half-court game and allows the youngest team in the league to outrun them and control the tempo by posting a 24-2 margin in fastbreak points of Game 4.

Generally speaking the two wins build confidence, and even more so, there’s a realization the Thunder can win its greatest series in team history. Remarkably it’s a historic arrival, finally getting the nod because of the Thunder's fierce approach and composure against the defending champions. The perception is that the Thunder is a much-maligned unit, even if they lack experience and veteran leadership.

Hardly ever does first-time arrivals beat a well-balanced and veteran team, but when there’s a matured superstar in Durant, winning is feasible. Each game the Thunder is enhancing and morphing into a dramatic competitor, invoking misery for an unhealthy Kobe, who has been slowed down by a right knee injury and broken index finger. He’s averaging 24 points, six points below his scoring average during last season’s run.

As for Durant, he said he felt disrespected when Phil Jackson irritated him by criticizing league officials for awarding him more free throws. For the real perspective, Jackson was able to psychologically pester the scorching forward with his typical mind games. But at his age, Durant is a very special talent and an intelligent basketball star, finally getting recognized for his unstoppable drives to the basket, a trend dismantling the Lakers defensively. The masses in Oklahoma City never had their own basketball franchise to embrace, thrilled to watch a marquee superstar deliver on ambition and enthusiasm.

It’s a town that now prides itself on its major franchise, deeply saluting a humbled and matured athlete. Years ago, you probably recall when the team was called the Seattle SuperSonics, before it migrated and renamed itself the Oklahoma City Thunder, exciting a city that never had its own franchise and rooted on the Oklahoma Sooners or Oklahoma State Cowboys.

But now, the good people in a southern territory are obsessed with the Thunder and have cheered on Durant, amazed and touched by his 28.3 points on 36.5 percent shooting from the field in three games. In the postseason, the 6-foot-9 forward has stayed composed and energetic, dominating the paint and boards with a 7-5 wingspan.

At this point, it seems the emergence of the Thunder is too efficacious and unbeatable. They are delighted by the loudest crowd in a town of madness. Nobody had this in mind. But when a star player had amazing scoring spectacles, a streak of 29 consecutive games in which he produced at least 25 points, expect the improbable to happen.

Surrounded with a relentless supporting cast, guard Russell Westbrook has been a working tandem in the league, thriving on a stunning team in an erratic Western Conference. From 23 wins to 50, the Thunder advanced to the playoffs. And Scott Brooks had the interim tag removed, named Coach of the Year.

All that said, Durant is a superstar, and the Thunder cannot be denied.

If no one paid attention, they are now.