HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – OK, science students. What’s louder than the sound of Thunder?
No question it’s the thud of 18,203 jaws and hearts hitting the hardwood floor at Oklahoma City Arena (aka “Loud City”) when Kevin Durant limped off the court last night.
In a heartbeat, Thunder fans everywhere saw their lives — or at least the rest of the season and playoffs — flash before their eyes when The Franchise bypassed the bench and headed straight to the locker room.
It occurred late in the third quarter when Durant drove through the lane, tried to plant his left foot, landed instead on top of Tyler Hansbrough’s foot and rolled his left ankle.
Just like that, all of the good feeling about the OKC debuts of Nazr Mohammed and Nate Robinson and the giddiness about how good the Thunder can become when the other new acquisition Kendrick Perkins gets into the lineup went right out the window.
But while he left the arena wearing a protective boot on what was diagnosed as a sprained ankle, according to Jenni Carlson of the Oklahoman, Durant said he’ll be OK after first tossing out a playful scare:
“I’m out for the year,” he said when asked how his ankle was.
He quickly flashed a Cheshire-cat grin.
“I’m just playin’.”
Deep breath, Thunder fans. The guy’s going to live to play another day, maybe even Friday at Atlanta.
“Hopefully, I’m ready to go,” he said. “Just a little tweak. I did it before. Just gotta see how I feel in the morning.”
Nevertheless, just the thought of a Durantula-less Thunder roster makes one wonder who is the most indispensable single player on an NBA roster at the moment.
After all, if LeBron James, Dwayne Wade or Chris Bosh go down, there are two more All-Stars behind them. Of course, Amar’e Stoudemire now has Carmelo Anthony. The Spurs are currently without Tony Parker, but still have Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili. The Celtics have Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen to fill the breach for one another.
No offense to fellow All-Star Russell Westbrook, but OKC without K.D. is just a place waiting for Bob Stoops’ team to kick off the next football season.
So who is the biggest dog that makes the biggest difference? Give us your pick. Here are the other three top suspects:
Kobe Bryant – Yes, he’s got an All-Star teammate in Pau Gasol. Yes, Lamar Odom, Ron Artest and Derek Fisher all have championship rings. But aren’t they just Fakers without Black Mamba?
Dirk Nowitzki – Remember, Dallas slumped to a 2-7 record when Nowitzki missed nine games in December and January with a knee injury. Take that tailspin off their current mark and the Mavs are 42-9 (.823) and playing at a clip that would have them ahead of S.A. with the best record in the league.
Derrick Rose – There’s no doubt that Tom Thibodeau has changed the culture and gotten everyone to buy into the significance of defense once again in Chicago. But isn’t it Rose climbing the ladder to become an MVP candidate who makes the Bulls a playoff threat?