SI ranks OKC Thunder – Heat 9th best finals of decade: is that too low?

James Harden, Serge Ibaka, Kevin Durant, Kendrick Perkins and Russell Westbrook of the OKC Thunder vs Miami Heat G5 2012 NBA Finals. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
James Harden, Serge Ibaka, Kevin Durant, Kendrick Perkins and Russell Westbrook of the OKC Thunder vs Miami Heat G5 2012 NBA Finals. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

With a new NBA decade about to begin all-decade lists abound. ranks all the finals with the 2011-12 OKC Thunder – Miami Heat finals ranking a lowly ninth. T.I. ponders if this position is fair or too low?

The NBA is on the precipice of the 2019-20 season and as such the All-Decade lists are prevalent in the news. One such list by examines every NBA finals of the past decade. The OKC Thunder played in one NBA finals which came during the 2011-12 season when the squad still had three future MVPs on the team.

Despite boasting a star studded cast of  Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, and Serge Ibaka the Thunder came up against a juggernaut. The powerhouse Miami Heat or the Heatles as they were fondly referred to back then were equally talent-packed. LeBron James had ‘brought his talents to South Beach” the season prior.

Miami also featured LeBron’s wing men Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh who had formed what was at that time considered the best superteam in the NBA. Still the season prior although the Heat reached the finals they lost in a shocker to the veteran laden, Dirk Nowitzki led Dallas Mavericks. That Mavs – Heat finals ranked fourth on the list.

Suffice to say LeBron was ravenous for the first title that had alluded him so far and the Heat entered these finals with far more knowledge of what it would take to win.

I remember thinking at the time how this was just the first of many trips the OKC Thunder would take to the NBA finals given how loaded the Thunder were with young talent who were clearly headed for superstardom. Hindsight can be so very eye-opening as this proved to be the solo trip this crew (and only franchise trip) would make to win the gold ball.

The following fall James Harden was traded to the Rockets plus seasons followed with unlucky and untimely injuries. As Durant and Westbrook tried to navigate a return to the big show teams like the Warriors, Spurs, Clippers, Grizzlies and improving Rockets and Blazers squads were making the West a very dangerous conference to exist in.

SI, The Crossover writer Michael Shapiro ranked the decade of finals as follow:

  1. Cavaliers defeat Warriors 4-3 in seven games  (2016)
  2. Heat defeat Spurs 4-3 in seven games  (2013)
  3. Lakers defeat Celtics 4-3 in seven games (2010)
  4. Mavericks defeat Heat 4-2 in six games (2011)
  5. Raptors defeat Warriors 4-2 in six games (2019)
  6. Spurs defeat Heat 4-1 in five games (2014)
  7. Warriors defeat Cavs 4-2 in six games (2015)
  8. Warriors defeat Cavs a four-game sweep (2018)
  9. Heat defeat Thunder 4-1 in five games (2012)
  10. Warriors defeat Cavs 4-1 in five games (2017) – Durant’s first title.

Any ranking or listing of players or teams is always subjective so there is always bound to be fodder for debate. This list while fine falls in that category in my personal opinion. First of all, the fact the top two wins feature series I felt featured controversial victories speaks to this. I understand placing the Cavaliers comeback and their first NBA title at the top but the Lakers – Celtics series was a war where Kendrick Perkins injury ironically was the deciding factor.

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Likewise, the Heat’s win over the Spurs (from this position in the world) was hampered by two Bosh no calls or bad calls late in game six resulting in extending the series. Instead of the Spurs hoisting the trophy Ray Allen‘s hail Mary 3-ball and Pops decision to not have Duncan on the floor to box out Bosh for the rebound will go down in history.

Game six also featured Heat fans who left the arena when the yellow tape came out to cordon off the court only to learn the Heat fought back.

The following year the Spurs spanked the Heat via a symphonic basketball display probably solidifying LeBron’s return to Cleveland even before he excited Texas.

Returning to the Thunder- Heat series although OKC won just a single game it felt like the series was far closer than the 4-1 end result. Bias may be affecting my opinion but I’d rank the series closer to sixth or fifth on the list.

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Where would you rank the series? Let us know in the comments section.