The 2012 Oklahoma City Thunder is a historically significant team. The franchise, unbeknownst to them, had three future MVPs and 2 future NBA Champions in their ranks.
In 2012, this young team went to the NBA Finals against the Miami Heat and the Big Three. Chris Bosh, Dwayne Wade, and LeBron James were hungry for a championship after their failure in the 2011 NBA Finals.
The team lost in the 2012 Finals 4-1, but the world became believers in OKC. A team with a historic core group of players, they would go onto remain players in the West for years to come.
But where are the players from this young core now? Well…
You can’t talk about Oklahoma City Thunder without talking about Kevin Durant. Arguably the greatest player in the history of the franchise, he led the team to their first NBA Finals in 2012.
Since his appearance in the Finals, Kevin Durant was crowned the NBA MVP in 2014. But Durant’s legacy with the Thunder was destroyed when he signed with the Golden State Warriors in 2016. What made the move more devastating was that OKC had fallen to the Warriors in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Durant went on to win two NBA Championships with the Warriors. For his play, he was crowned Finals MVP in both the instances. In 2019, he parted ways with the Warriors to play for the Brooklyn Nets, pairing up with close friend Kyrie Irving. However, he missed the entirety of the 2019-20 NBA season due to a ruptured Achilles that he sustained in the 2019 NBA Finals.
Russell Westbrook ended up being the last of that impressive core of OKC to leave the Oklahoma-based franchise. From 2012 to 2019, Westbrook became the heart and soul of the Thunder.
In 2017, Westbrook won the 2017 NBA MVP while being part of OKC. Yet Westbrook was never able to bring playoff success to OKC during his tenure, getting knocked out in the Playoffs within the first or second round every year between 2017 to 2019.
Westbrook was traded to the Rockets in 2019 after fellow OKC star Paul George subsequently got traded to the LA Clippers. Westbrook linked up with another former OKC star…
‘The Beard’ was a super-sub during the 2012 NBA Finals, coming off the bench as a major scoring threat. After the Finals, Harden was unable to negotiate an extension with OKC.
In addition to a lack of major playing time, Harden was traded to the Houston Rockets in a massive trade. In Houston, Harden transformed into one of the NBA’s finest players. He even won the MVP title in 2018.
Harden’s time at the Rockets has been great; however, it has been starved of playoff success. Harden has often been bested by the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference.
Harden, now with Westbrook, will be hoping to turn his fortunes around and finally win an NBA Championship sooner rather than later.
Serge Ibaka is often overlooked within this talented class of the 2012 OKC team. After the 2012 NBA Finals, Ibaka went from strength to strength over the next few seasons.
He came third in the Defensive Player of the Year race in 2013, behind LeBron James and Marc Gasol. By 2016, Ibaka’s time with Thunder came to an end as he was traded to the Orlando Magic.
The next season saw him chart a course to play in the ranks of the Toronto Raptors, where he continues playing to date. In 2019, Ibaka returned to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2012. Facing off against former teammate Kevin Durant and the Golden State Warriors, Ibaka won his first NBA Championship in 2019.
These players are well remembered for their 2012 NBA Finals’ appearance, but also for what they have achieved in the NBA as individuals.
All of them are still in their prime and looking to further their legacies and the sport of basketball going forward. The 2012 Oklahoma City Thunder team will be remembered forever, mostly because of these players.