#THUNDERUP was the gang: my guys made the NBA Finals in 2012, giving LeBron and the Heatles a (semi-) competitive series. In the closing seconds of Game 5, ABC’s cameras cut over to Russy, Kevin, and James — arms draped around each other, clearly disappointed but still youthfully exuberant, aware their trio would absolutely positively return to the championship round. James was due a contract extension, but *clutches pearls* we’d never play with the future of the franchise! I’ve never been more certain of a basketball fiefdom — at least not since Jordan’s Bulls.
On October 27, 2012, around 6PM London time, I learned the Thunder traded James Harden to the Houston Rockets. The Thunder vaguely claimed they were unable to reach an agreement on a contract extension; James was seeking a maximum contract of $60 million over 4 years, which the Thunder countered by asking him to take a $4.5 million discount. The Thunder traded away their third head over a mid-level exception.