Coming off an NBA Finals loss to the Miami Heat in 2012, the Oklahoma City Thunder were supposed to become the league’s next dynasty. With a core of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Serge Ibaka, Oklahoma City was expected to compete for championships for the next decade.
Later that offseason, Harden was traded to the Houston Rockets for Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb, and two first-round draft picks. That was only the first move as the team began to blow up.
In June of 2016, Ibaka was traded to the Orlando Magic as Oklahoma City was trying to show Durant they could make big moves to help him compete for a title, but he signed with the Golden State Warriors only a few days later. The Thunder team that was supposed to become a dynasty was now Russell Westbrook’s, but none of the other franchise pieces were left.
— Kevin Durant (@KDTrey5) July 4, 2016
Now that Ibaka has been traded to the Toronto Raptors, he is once again in line to compete for a title, but this Toronto team is nowhere near as good as the Thunder once were. Ibaka is just the latest to come out and explain his frustration with what Oklahoma City was supposed to become.
“We had a lot of confidence. Like, man, we’re so young and we’re going to win. We’re going to win a couple. More than two or three. Even after we lost the Finals to Miami, we told ourselves, ‘You know what, we got time. We’re still young and we’re going to keep getting better and better every year.”
— The Vertical (@TheVertical) March 3, 2017
Ibaka and Oklahoma City fans are not the only ones disappointed with that Oklahoma City has become. Fans across the NBA were supposed to be able to watch this team grow together. There was finally going to be a home-grown franchise, but that was stripped from everybody.
Seeing former photos of the former Thunder core playing together are truly saddening. That team arguably had 3 of the current top-10 NBA players, and they could all still be playing together. That team could have been unbeatable.
Instead, Russell Westbrook has become a triple-double machine as he looks to put Oklahoma City on his back. There’s no doubt that city is now his, and he will forever be their hero. A team that was once so deep is now led by one.
Oklahoma City will never be the same, but this team will never be forgotten. They will always be remembered as the dynasty that could have been, but never was.