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Scott Brooks Made Right Decision to Leave in Bench Players During Fourth Quarter

Though Oklahoma City won Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals in Dallas Thursday night, you would have figured they’d been blown out based on the scrutiny they faced afterwards. Thunder coach Scott Brooks decided to keep four of his five starters on the bench for the bulk of the fourth quarter, leaving Kevin Durant as the only regular on the floor. Though Dirk Nowitzki went to work on Nick Collison (who was later subbed out for Serge Ibaka) in the fourth quarter, the plan worked well — the Thunder outscored the Mavs by five and won the game 106-100.

James Harden was on the money with 23 points on 6-for-9 shooting to go along with seven rebounds and four assists, and Collison and Daequan Cook combined to go 5-for-5. The real story was that Eric Maynor scored 13 points in 20 minutes while subbing for Russell Westbrook, which created a controversy after the game.

Westbrook has been heavily criticized throughout the playoffs for his questionable shot selection and because of his inability to help Kevin Durant get the ball at times. Though I feel like the Thunder is much better team with Westbrook than without him (see the Game 7 closeout triple double against Memphis), his attitude and performance has been questionable. There are times when Russell should use his quickness and ability to get to the basket to try and score, and other times when he should try to set up his teammates. Sometimes he doesn’t try to run offensive sets and that is a problem. At the same time, there are few point guards who are as quick and effective in transition, so it’s a tricky situation to monitor.

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Nate Robinson Films Thunder Fans Greeting Team in Oklahoma City (Video)

Nate Robinson got himself into trouble last week when he called Thunder fans the best in the world. The praise was nice, but it alienated the fans in Robinson’s hometown of Seattle, where the Thunder came from before moving to Oklahoma City. Even if Robinson exercised poor judgment with that statement, he might not be wrong.

A few hours after beating the Mavericks in Game 2, the Thunder arrived home in Oklahoma City and a strong crowd was there to support the team. The only difference is Nate Robinson flipped the script on them, filming the experience. Check out this video to see the support Oklahoma City has for its team (beware of an s-bomb around the 2-minute mark):

It had to have been around midnight in Oklahoma City when the team arrived, if not later. If that’s not dedication shown by the fans I don’t know what is. Fans generally are extremely supportive whenever they have a new team (see most expansion teams in the history of sports), and it doesn’t hurt that the Thunder is really good, but these fans look pretty legit to me. Nice show OKC, well done.

Jerry West Set to Join Warriors Front Office

If Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wasn’t already upset enough over not having a statue at Staples Center, hearing that Laker legend Jerry West will be accepting a job with another team probably will put him over the edge.

Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News reports that the logo will be joining the Golden State Warriors in an advisory role. Kawakami’s report makes the hiring of agent Bob Myers more understandable. Myers’ mentor as an agent is Arn Tellem, who is close friends with West. Bringing in Myers helped them land West according to Kawakami.

West likely will not have a role in decision-making, but having him involved as an advisor can only be a plus. As GM of the Lakers, he helped build seven championship teams. He also helped Memphis reach the playoffs for the first time in frachise history when he was GM of the Grizzlies. Bringing in a two-time NBA Executive of the Year can only be viewed as a win for the Warriors.

Golden State had been looking to make a splash under co-owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber. They were aiming high for their new head coach, reportedly getting turned down by Jerry Sloan and Jeff Van Gundy. Though it remains to be seen how much of a role West will have with the organization, having someone like him tied to the franchise will only be a help.

Team Lewabosh Miami Heat Jersey Might be Worst Sports Jersey Ever

Back in July when the Bermuda Triangle of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh formed in Miami, one particular Heat fan was pretty excited. He didn’t get quite as crazy as these fans, but he went all out. In fact, the man who calls himself “Big Cheese” on twitter proudly represents the worst Heat jersey we’ve seen. Check it out thanks to the great Sports Feeder:

Notice how that’s jersey number 10, which is the total of LeBron (6), Wade (3), and Bosh’s (1) jersey numbers? You know Big Cheese wouldn’t miss a detail like that. And in case you’re wondering how to pronounce “Lewabosh,” Big Cheese has you covered with this video he made last summer. Check it out:

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Charles Barkley Was Willing to Write Dirk Nowitzki Blank Check to Play at Auburn

Former All-Star and current NBA analyst Charles Barkley has been on the Dirk Nowitzki bandwagon for a long time. Before picking the Mavs to beat the Thunder, Barkley said about Dirk “In my 30 years around the NBA, he has the most unique game. He’s a 7-foot guy who can shoot 3s, he can put it on the floor” and that was only part of his praise for the German. If you don’t understand where his love for Dirk comes from, it actually goes back several years ago when Barkley saw Dirk play as a teenager. He related the story as a guest on PTI Thursday.

“We’re on one of those Nike trips and I had Scottie Pippen and Gary Payton, and a bunch of great players,” Barkley recalled. “Dirk had 28 at halftime. He was like 16 years old. He finished up with about 42. I told him ‘You name your price, you’re going to Auburn University.’ I said ‘Here’s a blank check, just fill it in. Just fill it in. You’re going to Auburn.’ He said ‘I gotta go into the army.’ I took his information, called a couple months later, and Don Nelson drafts him for the Mavs. You know how great we would have been? Can you imagine how great Auburn would have been if we had the white mamba?”

The main point of the story was to explain how good Dirk was at such an early age, and how obvious to Barkley it was that Dirk was a special player. But if you think he was joking about writing a blank check to get Dirk to Auburn, you’re wrong. Barkley freely admits he took money from agents when he played, and he’ll probably tell you Auburn got Cam Newton cheaply if they only paid $180,000 for him.

And just for factual information, Dirk was actually drafted by Milwaukee and traded for Tractor Traylor. It was easily one of the worst draft-day trades ever, all respect to the late Tractor.

Three Adjustments Thunder Need to Make to Beat Mavericks in Game 2

Led by an all-time great playoff performance from Dirk Nowitzki, the Mavericks slaughtered the Thunder 121-112 in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals Tuesday.

Dirk dropped 48 points on 12-of-15 shooting and broke an NBA playoff record for made free throws in a game without a miss by going 22-of-22 from the line.

Kevin Durant tried his best to retaliate, scoring 40 points, but his teammates weren’t up to the task. The Thunder’s performance wasn’t as respectable as the single-digit final deficit suggests; they were outplayed in every aspect of the game.

Any time your opponent shoots 53% from the field and outscores your bench 53-22, you’re in major trouble.

So what does OKC have to do to bounce back and even the series 1-1?

Here are three key adjustments the Thunder can make to win Game 2:

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Nike Marketing Kevin Durant Backpack Along with Clothing Line

During Oklahoma City Thunder post-game press conferences, two things go hand-in-hand: Kevin Durant and his backpack.  For whatever reason, the 21-year-old superstar does all his post game blabber wearing his backpack completely strapped up and ready to go.  Like any smart company would do, Nike is capitalizing on the fashion statement by selling the carrying book bag as part of Durant’s KD III line.

It has almost become symbolic for Durant to rock the backpack during his sessions with the media.  However, some fans may be disappointed with what’s actually in it.  According to Durant, “iPad, headphones, bible and phone chargers,” is all he carries.

Nike is has wisely decided to capitalize off this entertaining fad.  Durant, unlike LeBron, is one of the most loved players in the NBA.  When young basketball players go to purchase his shoes, they’ll almost certainly feel obligated to buy the matching backpack.

While Nike looks to profit off Durant’s choice in style, Durant himself has other things to worry about.  One huge one will be slowing down the Mavericks and Dirk Nowitzki’s quest to enhance his legacy. After the Game 1 loss, Durant will need his teammate Russell Westbrook (3-15 shooting in Game 1) — not his backpack – to have any chance of bouncing back.

When you look at the way Durant used to be, this revelation is actually surprising.