Durant: I'm pissed, we had that game
The I-5 rivalry featuring the Portland Trail Blazers and the Seattle Supersonics contained some of the most memorable moments in NBA basketball history.
When the Sonics relocated to the south as the Oklahoma City Thunder, the rivalry lost its luster and identity. However, with Portland owning the best record in the Western Conference and looking down on Oklahoma City, might this be the beginning of a rivalry rekindling?
According to Oklahoma City’s superstar, not yet.
“I wouldn’t say we have a rivalry with the Blazers,” Kevin Durant told CSNNW.com. “I think a rivalry stems from the playoffs, playing against them in the playoffs. We’ve had tough games here and there with them. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying they’re not a tough team to play against, but we haven’t had a lot of crazy battles with these guys.”
Going into Wednesday night’s game against the Trail Blazers, Oklahoma had defeated Portland seven straight times and were riding at the time a NBA-high eight-game winning streak.
Just like the Trail Blazers did to San Antonio, Denver on the road, Chicago, Golden State on the road and Indiana, they were victorious over the Thunder 111-104 at the Moda Center led by a monstrous LaMarcus Aldridge performance of 38 points, 13 rebounds and five assists.
Would you call it a rivalry, Mr. Aldridge?
“Maybe not,” Aldridge replied. “I don’t know. It’s a good game, of course. They’re a good team and we’re better this year so it’s always competitive between us two. It’s never a letdown as far competition goes.”
While Durant isn't ready to proclaim it a rivalry renewed, he does confess that for the first time in a few years, the Northwest Division is anybody’s to be had.
“With us winning the division the last three years, it’s definitely up for grabs this year. Denver, Portland, Utah…anybody can win it. So we definitely have to be aware of that. These type of games are big especially when you look at them two to three months from now. We have to be prepared every time we plays these teams in our division.”
The only teams left for Portland (16-3) to beat with currently a .600 winning percentage or higher are Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles Clippers and Miami. That’s quite impressive considering this team was expected to hover around the final playoff spot in the Western Conference standings.
Aldridge has preached from Day 1 that it’s all about taking it one game at a time. He has done an excellent job of staying in the moment and not making a big deal of knocking off powerhouse opponents. He realizes that it’s on early December. The season is far from over.
Last night Aldridge received “MVP” chants as he willed his team to victory. He performed on a stage shared by arguably the best player in the game, and outdid him. Both teams are young and steadily improving. It has all the makings of stirring up those old classic hard feelings the I-5 Rivalry provided.
Last night may have ignited the rebirth.