The Curse of the Beard

Kevin Durant is out for the remainder of the season. His foot was never right after having surgery right before the season. He was limited to only 27 games this season. Things have not been the same for the Thunder since they traded away James Harden. I call it “The curse of the beard”.

June 21, 2012. James Harden's last game with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Let’s go back to June 21st, 2012, that was game 5 of the NBA Finals. The Miami Heat beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 121-106 and LeBron James captured his first championship. At one point in the fourth quarter Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden were seen embracing each other. They were a young talented trio and we expected to see them back in the Finals soon.

As a fan I was excited. I thought we would see LeBron James vs. Kevin Durant in the Finals for the next few years. The series was over in five games but the games were all close except for the closeout game. LeBron finally won a title and Durant was right there.

Fast forward to October 28th, 2012, the news breaks that James Harden and the Oklahoma City Thunder could not reach an agreement on an extension and he is traded to the Houston Rockets. Everyone was shocked, the Thunder basically picked Serge Ibaka over James Harden. They didn’t need three dynamic playmakers so they chose the Westbrook-Durant combo while Ibaka added the defense.

The Thunder didn’t flinch as the season started. They went out and won 60 games to capture the top seed in the Western Conference. James Harden led the Rockets to 45 wins and the 8th seed. It was only right that Harden would force his former teammates in the playoffs. The Thunder would win in six games. Harden was great all season as he averaged 25 ppg and led the league in free throw attempts.

Russell Westbrook was knocked out of the 2013 playoffs.

During that series Russell Westbrook was injured and would miss the rest of the postseason. The Thunder would lose in the Western Conference Semifinals to the Memphis Grizzlies without Westbrook.

Russell Westbrook had multiple surgeries and only played in 46 games during the 2013-14 season. The Thunder still managed to win 59 games. Kevin Durant would go on to win the MVP award. This was the season that the Kevin Durant would lead the Thunder back to the finals to take on LeBron James. However Serge Ibaka was injured before the Western Conference Finals.

Serge Ibaka missed time in the 2014 playoffs. He returned but was not the same.

Ibaka missed the first two games against the San Antonio Spurs as the Thunder were blown out in both games. Ibaka returned in game three and the Thunder would win the next two. It was not enough as the Spurs won the next two games and headed back to the Finals where they would dismantle the Miami Heat to win another championship.

So since trading away James Harden the Thunder went 119-45 in the regular season. After playing in every game of his career Russell Westbrook got hurt and missed a lot of time. Serge Ibaka missed crucial games in the playoffs and wasn’t the same when he returned.

In the last three seasons Kevin Durant missed a total of two games. All of a sudden before the season gets underway Durant has surgery to address a Jones fracture to his right foot. Durant would be out until December. He came back on a minutes restriction and looked a little rusty. He started to find his groove against the Warriors. He had 30 points in 19 minutes before spraining his ankle. He would not return and missed the next six games.

Kevin Durant was limited to only 27 games this season.

Durant came back at the end of December and played in the majority of games. His minutes restriction was gone and he had some good games. Soreness in his foot would cause him to miss some games but he played in the All-Star game and in the game after that. All of sudden Durant needed another procedure on his foot to fix a screw. He would be re-evaluated in two weeks. Well that came and went and now Durant will undergo a bone graft on his right foot and miss the rest of the season.

This season has been a disaster for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Many thought Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka would carry the team with Durant out. That didn’t happen because Westbrook got hurt in the second game of the season.

As the Thunder fight for their playoff lives, James Harden and the Houston Rockets just won 50 games and are tied for second in the Western Conference.

This season is essentially lost for the Thunder. Even if they make it to the playoffs I don’t see them beating the Golden State Warriors. They went from the NBA Finals to fighting for the 8th seed.

More importantly this is a lost season for Kevin Durant. He will be a free agent at the end of next season. The Oklahoma City Thunder need to win a championship before that happens. They were supposed to have multiple trips to the Finals by now and they haven’t been close.

If they don’t win a title next season I can see Kevin Durant leaving in free agency.