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2012 nba playoffs

The Thunder Dynasty Is Already Starting

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - JUNE 6: Oklahoma City Thunder players, from left, Kevin Durant #35, Serge Ibaka #9 and Russell Westbrook #0 stand with the Western Conference Finals Champions trophy following their team's victory against the San Antonio Spurs in Game Six of the Western Conference Finals during the 2012 NBA Playoffs on June 6, 2012 at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2012 NBAE (Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images)

Everyone who watches and writes about the NBA is still stuck on the old upward-trajectory championship arc, narratively enslaved by Michael Jordan as always; teams are supposed to fail for a couple of years and then incrementally move forward until finally breaking through with a title. (Like Jordan's struggles with the Pistons before finally beating them, then beginning the run of titles — basically, treating the years like a video game that gets progressively more difficult.) It doesn't really work like this anymore, though. Dallas won last year after years of doing nothing in the playoffs, the Lakers were a series of fits and stops, and the Celtics were the culmination of a one-year project. And now, the Oklahoma City Thunder, who beat the San Antonio Spurs last night to advance to the NBA Finals, have upended the notion again. The young Thunder, especially when they were down 2-0, were supposed to fall short before breaking through next year. But their Big Three — built organically, the "right" way — of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden didn't want to wait, and now they've blitzed to the Finals by winning four straight against a team that had just won twenty in a row. They'll wait to see what happens in the Eastern Conference (Game 6 tonight) and will have home-court advantage in the NBA Finals. This is something we should probably all start getting used to.

Photo: Layne Murdoch/NBAE