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"What If?" The Rivalry that never was. Part 1

Monday, May 14th at 8pm. Rockets vs. Warriors. The series that we have all been waiting for is finally here and let’s be honest. This is the finals. The East will not present a threat to whichever powerhouse comes out of the West. But, I almost feel unsatisfied. Don’t get me wrong, as a basketball fan this series excites the hell out of me. But this isn’t the series that we should be having, nor is it the rivalry that should be taking place. Let’s take a trip back 2022 days.

Per ESPN

“Unable to work out an extension with James Harden, the Oklahoma City Thunder traded the Sixth Man of the Year to the Houston Rockets on Saturday night, breaking up the young core of the Western Conference champions.”

There’s a few things that we need to dissect from this quote.

I want to talk about the young core first. This core was made up of a 21 year old James Harden. A sixth man that everyone seemingly knew was gonna turn into a offensive star. A 22 year old Russell Westbrook that had the offensive ability to go off for 40 at any given night, yet he had the physical ability to guard any wing the opposition had to offer bar LeBron.

Last but not least, a 22 year old Kevin Durant. Heralded as the next face of the NBA with a offensive skill set that allowed him to get 30 without effort. Add in a 21 year old Serge Ibaka and a 20 year old Reggie Jackson and this already sounds like a dynasty in the making.

The second part to pay attention to is the Western Conference champs. Wait, what? This core of young players was the second youngest team to ever make it to the finals, and this was their first year at peaking potential.

The last part that needs the attention of all basketball fanatics is the contract extension.

Harden wanted the max deal for a contract extension, which would have been 60 million over a 4 year span. They instead offered a 4 year 55.5 over a 4 year span, and Harden refused to take any part in that. Which leads to the actually robbery that occured….