Congratulations and hearty backslaps to the Oklahoma City Thunder (AKA SuperStolens, Zombie Sonics), the NBA's latest team of tomorrow. With an impressive showing against the defending champs, the Thunder staked their claim to being the squad that everyone's picking to win the title five years from now. Yes, the future looks bright for Durant and company.
The only snag is that the future never arrives. As Buckaroo Banzai once famously said, "Wherever you go, there you are." And where the Thunder are right now is home watching someone else compete for the title.
Think I'm being harsh? Ask the New Orleans Hornets about the future. Ask Greg Oden and the Blazers. Ask the Arenas/Jamison/Butler Wizards. Stuff happens. People get injured. Egos clash.
In 1997, Michael Jordan tabbed the Washington Bullets, a band of pups led by Chris Webber, Rod Strickland and Juwan Howard, the "team of the future." Yeah, that worked out well. A year later, C-Webb was shipped to Sacto, where he formed the nucleus of yet another champion-to-be (fittingly the runner-up in Ball Don't Lie's also-rans of the Aughts column).
Who can forget the promising triumvirate of Kidd/Mashburn/Jackson (The Big 3 In Big D- sounds like bad porn) supposedly being splintered by Toni Braxton? Y'know, Toni Braxton. Yeah.
After soundly thumping LeBron's Cavs in the Finals in '07, Tim Duncan consoled James by telling him, "Some day you're going to own this league." From a marketing perspective, Timmy was spot-on. Four years later, however, the King is still without his crown. Maybe that could change this year. Maybe not. The prodigious Orlando Magic, fresh off their own disappointing turn in the Finals, stand in their way.
And of course, waiting out West are the game's biggest clutch performer and its greatest coach. No, I'm not talking about Channing Frye and Alvin Gentry.
Spiritual and holistic types are constantly reminding us to stay in the moment. "All we have is right now." I prefer John Lennon's way of looking at it: "Life is what happens when you're busy making plans."
Pictured: Bullet Boys (sorry, no Kip Winger)