Forget about LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. And Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen are so past their prime. How about a Big Three just West of the Mississippi?
Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant may be the fastest rising star in the NBA, but let’s not forget about Jeff Green and Russell Westbrook.
OK, maybe their names simply aren’t as sexy as the other Big Threes that are out there, but Durant, Green and Westbrook led the Thunder to the playoffs this past season and now all three are trying to find a home on Team USA. Despite what would make for a grueling offseason for his three budding stars, Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks hopes all three make the team.
Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks joined the Sports Animal in Oklahoma City with Matt Pinto to discuss his players’ odds of making the cut, whether he’d be worried about their fatigue during the NBA season and the value of star power in the NBA.
On Durant, Westbrook and Green competing for a spot on Team USA:
“I’m proud of our guys. I like the way they’re really taking this opportunity very serious. They came in with a great mindset, great conditioning. … Just speaking with them, they’re excited. They’re excited about the opportunity to get to represent their country.”
On the chances of Westbrook and Green joining Durant (a presumable lock) on the team:
“I think Russell and Jeff have a great chance. I saw the last couple of days. They’re right there. It’s going to be a very difficult decision for the coaches and Mr. [Jerry] Colangelo to make. There’s so many deserving players. Russell and Jeff are giving themselves a great opportunity to make the team.”
On Oklahoma City’s offseason moves to sign Durant and general manager Sam Presti:
“That’s probably the biggest thing we’ve done all summer is sign those two guys. Sam has really built a team that I can coach [and] our state can be proud of. They’re good guys, they compete, they’re self-driven, they’re excited about getting better every day. Sam is the reason why all of this is happening. He’s done a great job and he deserves it and I’m proud to be a part of the organization.”
On whether there is concern about fatigue regarding his players playing for Team USA:
“Well they’re definitely going to need some time to just decompress and relax because it’s going to be a very high-intensity tournament. It’s not going to be easy to win the gold. It’s going to take a lot of effort, a lot of energy, but our guys are young and they’re excited to play. They’re going to play basketball all year long. Kevin, I wanted him to take a couple of weeks off and he took two days off. … There’s going to be a little bit of time where I’ll say ‘OK, you guys gotta rest,’ and maybe I can rest them a few days during that month of October, but it’s going to be like pulling teeth to get those guys to sit out of things.”
On players working to join each other for star power:
“That’s one thing Sam and I totally agree on. We want to make this Oklahoma City team a star team. We’re not concerned about a guy being the brightest star on the team. That’s the great thing about Kevin, he wants to be a great teammate. … I don’t give him any preferential treatment because he’s Kevin Durant. He’s one of 15 that we have and he’s the same way. … That’s always been the case since I’ve been in the league and I started out in the late 80s. You always have player movement and you always have players wanting to join other players. The bottom line is you’ve still got to go out there and compete as a team.”