The Oklahoma City Thunder are positioned for a historic playoff run. Over the last 13 seasons, there have been three teams from the Western Conference to play in the NBA Finals. The Thunder may get the chance to eliminate each of these three powerhouses in their 2012 playoff run toward the NBA Finals. This postseason, the Thunder has already extinguished the Mavs, Lakers, and now they have a 3-2 advantage against the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Finals.
The Dallas Mavericks have played in the finals twice; both times against the Miami Heat, loosing once in 2006, and winning in 2011. The LA Lakers have played in seven NBA Finals, all under the leadership of Kobe Bryant; going 3-1 with Shaq and 2-1 with Gasol and Bynum.
The Spurs have been to four NBA finals, and won each time. Their wins were against four different teams: against the Cavs in four games (2007), against the Knicks in five games (1999), against the Nets in six games (2003), and against the Pistons in seven games (2005).
If the Thunder were to defeat the Spurs in the Western Conference Finals, a feat of this nature, for the NBA or any sporting league in North America, would signal the changing of the guard from the old dominate teams to the young lions. This caliber of pressure-filled playoff winning over teams that represent the most recent success of the NBA would be momentous for a young team like the Thunder.
If Oklahoma City can meet the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals after beating the Mavs, Lakers, and Spurs, then their championship would deserve to be ranked as high in quality as any team from any sport that has accomplished winning a title. A championship would signal a new regime of superiority for the NBA.
Their rise to the top should be celebrated because GM Sam Presti has built this team from the ground up using the draft, a feat that is rare in this modern day age of sports.
In this modern era of sports, continuity has ended. There has been so much change that it has become hard to follow and identify with a team, loyalty has been fragmented, and the price of becoming a champion has been cheapened by some teams having multiple all-stars on the same team.
This modern era has made the Thunder much more appreciable. The team isn’t just Durant, Westbrook, and Harden, it is the supporting cast around them that has given the Thunder their texture, and has made following them all the more interesting.
We will see championship teams in the future, but the question remains, will we see teams that endure the way the Thunder has endured?