Young players around the NBA are not shy to sing the praises of the OKC Thunder. It is clear that the initial run of this franchise, from 2008-2016, truly impacted young players and basketball fans as a whole. Many of you reading this grew up following Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Serge Ibaka, and the rest of the OKC Thunder squad. Their trip to the 2012 NBA Finals, and coming up just shy many times after to reach that plateau again, made the Thunder one of the most interesting, relevant, and fun teams to watch during that era of NBA basketball.
At one point, the Oklahoma City Thunder had three future MVPs on their roster, drafting them in consecutive summers. The OKC Thunder was one of the winningest sports franchises from 2008-2020. That led to their great impact on modern NBA players today.
The Initial run of the OKC Thunder organization is having an impact on modern-day basketball.
On the latest episode of Podcast P Presented by Wave Sports + Entertainment, Terrance Mann discussed teaming up with OKC Thunder legend Russell Westbrook, “It was crazy for me. Just because I grew up watching him a lot too. I was just a big fan. I follow OKC on Facebook to this day. I still go on Facebook, and I got OKC notifications popping up. No, I’m being dead serious, fan page I used to follow because of Russ. So it’s just crazy being on the same team as him. Great teammate. I remember our first or second game together, he got subbed out, and he stood up and coached me the whole second quarter…didn’t sit down one time.”
Terrance Mann is not the first player to highlight that the OKC Thunder basketball era as incredibly impactful for their basketball journey. Even during this year’s rookie press conference OKC Thunder forward Keyontae Johnson, and General Manager Sam Presti, laid out the impact of those Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant-led teams.
Around Oklahoma City, it is common to have fans tell you they fell in love with the game of basketball, and the NBA as a whole, thanks to those early-Thunder years. The success right out of the gate, the bond those teams had with the community, and the youthful energy was inspiring. It is cool to know you are not alone. Now, young players entering the league grew up the same way, idolizing and loving those OKC Thunder teams.
The respect between young players and those initial Thunder squads goes both ways, withKevin Durant praising the young core the OKC Thunder have built during this rebuild process.