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Oklahoma City Thunder highlights

April 23, 2014 Updates

Some might argue, pointing to the seven seasons he spent in Atlanta averaging 20.9 points a game, or his Western Conference Finals run with the Phoenix Suns in 2003. But statistics and subjective opinions hardly do justice to Johnson's subtly brilliant season for the Nets. It wasn't until this year, his second in Brooklyn, that Johnson became the primary scorer for a real contender. Since Jan. 2, when his game-winning jumper against the Oklahoma City Thunder began a 34-17 run for the Nets, Johnson has averaged team highs in scoring (15.9 points a game), free-throw accuracy (82.8%) and three-point accuracy (40.1%). Wall Street Journal

In this regular season where his production has jumped from 18.0 points and 8.3 rebounds a game last season to 24.1 and 9.5, he was better than ever during that stretch: 27.5 points, 8.2 rebounds and 4.4 assists a game with the offense often running through him. "Blake was always like the little brother (to Paul)," Crawford said. "And when the big brother is down, the little brother has to step up. And me and Blake looked at each other, because he was like, 'Now we've got to be more aggressive. We've got to go.' He led with his voice. He led by example. He led us every single night when Chris went out. "This guy just wants to be great. He really does. I've said it before — (Kevin) Durant (of the Oklahoma City Thunder) will probably win MVP this year, but with those guys being the same age I could see them going back and forth for years to come. ... Blake's one of the special talents in the world." USA Today Sports

April 22, 2014 Updates
April 20, 2014 Updates

Caron Butler pumped on the wing, darted toward the lane and rocked in a one-hand highlight hammer dunk. The Thunder crowd let out a collective roar. But it was preceded by a quick moment of confusion – a momentary silence indicating a general “Wait, what?” feeling. “Caron’s dunk probably surprised 18,203 fans,” Scott Brooks joked. “As well as the staff and our players.” But it fired them up, too. Oklahoman

April 19, 2014 Updates

“Everyone in the league knows about her,” said Caron Butler, a 12-year N.B.A. veteran who stayed at the Skirvin many times before he joined the Thunder this season. “Hopefully, she’ll haunt all the teams that come for the playoffs.” The legend holds that Effie was a housekeeper during the early years of the Skirvin, a luxury downtown hotel, before its 10 brick floors were expanded to 14 in 1930. W. B. Skirvin, the hotel’s widowed owner, supposedly had an affair with Effie and, when she became pregnant, ordered her to stay locked inside a room on an upper floor, even after she had the baby. At some point, the story goes, Effie went crazy, grabbed the baby and jumped, killing herself and the child. New York Times

Large men unafraid of attacking the lane, diving headfirst into the seats or lobbing pressure-packed shots shudder at the mere thought of Effie. More important, perhaps, they lie awake the night before a game, their prescribed rest undone by phantom pains. Is it any wonder that the Thunder had the league’s second-best home record? In the past few seasons, the Knicks blamed creaks and groans for a sleepless night before a loss. A Bulls player could not explain why his bathroom door slammed shut. A member of the Phoenix Suns woke to find his bathtub filled with water. New York Times

“I don’t think Effie exists,” said Steve Lackmeyer, a reporter for the newspaper The Oklahoman who co-wrote a book, “Skirvin,” about the hotel’s colorful history. That past includes the mysterious death of its first general manager, but years of research have found no record of a housekeeper named Effie, or of any housekeeper who leapt to her death, with or without a baby. “If you had a maid suffer a bloody ending, it would not have been kept quiet,” Lackmeyer said. “This was a small town.” New York Times

His teammate Eddy Curry said he slept just two hours one night. He was the only player assigned to the supposedly spooky 10th floor, and he spent most of his time in Nate Robinson’s room, afraid to be alone. “I definitely believe there are ghosts in that hotel,” Curry told The Daily News, which illustrated its article with a photograph not of the Skirvin but of the Bates Motel. New York Times

Weeks later, Chicago’s Taj Gibson said that his bathroom door at the Skirvin had slammed in the middle of the night for no reason. His teammate Derrick Rose was among the Bulls who heard strange bangs and bumps and became a believer. “It was scary last night,” Rose said. New York Times

Employees know all about the legend, though, greeting inquiries with a smile. (The hotel is known for its service, after all.) Some laugh it off as nothing but a story; others insist it is true. One banquet worker said she sometimes heard a crying baby, mostly in the basement or on the 10th and 14th floors. It is not scary, she said, because it is something she only hears, not sees. New York Times

Accordingly, we learned yesterday that Tulsa businessman, and certified billionaire, George Kaiser has been approved by the NBA Board of Governors to become a new partner in The Professional Basketball Club, LLC, the limited partnership which owns the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Chairman and CEO of the team Clayton I. Bennett made the announcement today. Kaiser is buying out the ownership interest of a selling partner, Thomas Ward. “We are honored to welcome George Kaiser as a member of the ownership group of the Oklahoma City Thunder,” Bennett said. “George is a well-respected and important Oklahoma business leader, as well as one of the state and nation’s top philanthropists. His commitment to successful business and community leadership is in true alignment with that of the Thunder.” Jewish Business News

April 18, 2014 Updates

Tulsa businessman George B. Kaiser is the newest co-owner of the Oklahoma City Thunder after buying out the ownership interest of Tom Ward. Thunder Chairman and CEO Clayton I. Bennett announced the changes Friday after Kaiser received approval from the NBA Board of Governors to buy the stake in The Professional Basketball Club LLC, which owns the Oklahoma City basketball franchise. “We are honored to welcome George Kaiser as a member of the ownership group of the Oklahoma City Thunder,” Bennett said in a statement Friday. “George is a well-respected and important Oklahoma business leader, as well as one of the state and nation’s top philanthropists. His commitment to successful business and community leadership is in true alignment with that of the Thunder. Oklahoman

April 17, 2014 Updates

Kevin Durant's travel agent claims she secretly booked flights and hotel arrangements for "numerous women" on behalf of the "KD entourage" for years ... and all she got in return was a lawsuit. TMZ Sports has obtained a lawsuit Durant filed against Lynn Swanson back in September -- claiming she overcharged him by at least $500,000 for work she did from 2007 to 2012. But Swanson fired back in docs of her own, filed in March, claiming she earned every penny from KD -- by taking all of Kev's high-maintenance requests ... including late-night calls, last minute requests and confidential arrangements for special ladies. TMZ.com

April 16, 2014 Updates

James Harden wouldn’t shave his beard for a million dollars. $10 million? That’s another question. But the former Thunder guard does confess he would have stayed in Oklahoma City had money not been a factor. In this interview with Hannah Storm of ESPN, Harden says if the 5-year, $80-million extension he signed with the Houston Rockets in 2012 wasn’t a factor, he’s still be in Thunder blue. Storm: If money wasn’t in the equation, do you think you’d still be there? Harden: Definitely. Definitely, no question. Oklahoman

Adidas went all in on Derrick Rose, giving him one of the more lucrative deals in the shoe business, but due to two seasons of injuries, they have failed to really capitalize on their investment. The D. Rose line has done OK in terms of sales, but given that Rose hasn’t played, adidas hasn’t exactly dominated the market as they hoped they would with Rose. Fortunately for adidas the Rose line has sold well both domestically and internationally, but it hasn’t been the runaway hits that the LeBron or Kevin Durant shoes have been. Basketball Insiders

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Kevin Durant may end up claiming the No. 1 spot, but for now it belongs to Gary Payton.

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