The best moment of last night's Thunder win over the Spurs -- completing a four-game sweep after being down 0-2, to win OKC's (if not the franchise's) first Western Conference title -- came just before the game was over, but victory was assured:
Kevin Durant, triumphant, walked over to courtside to give his beloved mom a hug. It was an instant classic -- not quite "Good job! Good effort!" on the meme scale but certainly more meaningful.
It is impossible to dislike Durant or this young, fearless Thunder team. (The team's owners? Another story. But we all seem to be able to compartmentalize the players from the owners.)
It doesn't matter who the Thunder plays next: Either the Heat or the Celtics (let's hope it's Boston) will be assured the role of loathed villain to the Thunder's fresh-legged exuberance -- Darth and Luke, if you want an easy pop-culture metaphor.
Here's something interesting: My 6-year-old son has been following the NBA for a year -- last year's playoffs all the way through this season and this year's playoffs. And he loves the Thunder. Loves them. Partially it's because I rave about Durant. But he actually loves Westbrook -- the style of play of Westbrook and the Thunder as a whole is so obviously eager and infectious that even a six-year-old is drawn to it, without any sophisticated understanding of the game.
(Aside: I have been obsessed with OKC basketball fans since their very first game hosting the displaced Hornets -- they went bananas for that team, it helped generate the enthusiasm to bring/steal them the Thunder and they haven't looked back since. They are the best fans in the NBA, and damn near close to the best fans in sports. Doesn't matter that they've had a team for all of four years -- five if you count the Hornets. They are fantastic.)
The Thunder used to be the team of tomorrow. Now, they are the team of -- well -- now. And the foreseeable future.
When you consider that the Heat's window is this year plus another two before the Big Three can leave, perhaps a year after that before the Big Three are simply too old to keep up, there is a very good chance that Miami will never be good enough to beat this Thunder team.
Hell, they might not be good enough to win the East. We'll find out tonight.