Big Three eye elu­sive big prize

China Daily - - SPORTS -

OK­LA­HOMA CITY — Rus­sell West­brook, Carmelo An­thony and Paul Ge­orge have ac­com­plished nearly ev­ery­thing in their bas­ket­ball ca­reers.

West­brook is a two-time scor­ing cham­pion, two-time All-Star MVP and the reign­ing league MVP. An­thony is a 10-time All-Star and three­time Olympic gold medal­ist. Ge­orge is a four-time Al­lS­tar, for­mer most-im­proved­player award win­ner and an Olympic gold medal­ist.

None of the new Ok­la­homa City Thun­der team­mates have an NBA ti­tle.

They say that is what drives this ver­sion of the NBA’s lat­est ‘Big Three’.

“It’s a dif­fer­ent en­ergy, a dif­fer­ent fo­cus, a dif­fer­ent mo­ti­va­tion that my­self has, Paul has and Russ has, be­ing that we haven’t won a cham­pi­onship yet in our ca­reers,” An­thony said. “We see that, and that’s our ul­ti­mate goal.”

It’s ev­ery NBA player’s goal, but few have what it takes to win a ti­tle or are will­ing to make the sac­ri­fices nec­es­sary to get to the top.

West­brook, who re­cently signed a re­ported five-year, $205 mil­lion ex­ten­sion with OKC, av­er­aged a triple-dou­ble last sea­son and broke Os­car Robert­son’s sin­gle­sea­son record for triple-dou­bles in a sea­son with 42. But he didn’t have much help of­fen­sively, and the Thun­der lost to the Hous­ton Rock­ets in the first round of the play­offs.

Ok­la­homa City added Ge­orge in an off­sea­son trade with In­di­ana, then once the pos­si­bil­ity of An­thony leav­ing New York be­came real, Ge­orge helped An­thony add Ok­la­homa City to his list of pos­si­ble des­ti­na­tions since he had a no-trade clause in his con­tract.

“You know, it’s awe­some to have guys that want to play along­side you and team up with you and share a mis­sion with you, so we got right to it,” Ge­orge said. “The same for Russ. Those two are pretty close. We all were kind of in the loop on what was go­ing on and we made it pos­si­ble.”

For this union to work there will need to be sac­ri­fices, es­pe­cially by An­thony. He has been a lead scorer his en­tire ca­reer, and last sea­son av­er­aged 22.4 points. He is the No 25 scorer in NBA his­tory with more than 24,000 points, and is head­ing into ter­ri­tory that took other All­Stars some time to ad­just to, most re­cently Kevin Love and Chris Bosh.

“I didn’t want to come here to try to out­shine Paul or Russ and vice versa,” An­thony said. “We’re try­ing to win bas­ket­ball games, and by any means nec­es­sary, we’re go­ing to do that. I’m go­ing to bring my skillset to this team, to this or­ga­ni­za­tion, and that’s what I’m here for.”

An­thony likes the fact that he won’t have to score as much with this team, though he is still an elite scorer and plans to get buck­ets.

“It’s dif­fer­ent though, be­cause I don’t want to take the load on of I have to do it and score 30, 40, 50 points ev­ery night,” he said. “But, I mean, I score. That’s what I do. I can’t take that away from me. Be­ing that I do that very well, I think this team needs that, along with some other things.”

Thun­der gen­eral man­ager Sam Presti cau­tioned that the team might not im­me­di­ately click.

“I can write the sto­ries for all of you the first time that we look sloppy or we drop a game here or there or we’re work­ing things through, you know,” Presti said.

“That’s nat­u­ral, and I wouldn’t say you guys shouldn’t re­act that way. But the vi­sion for our team and the way we’ve gone about our busi­ness is to al­ways see things for what they can be and not for what they are, and I think we’ll know what we can be af­ter 82 games.” AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

From left: Ok­la­homa City’s Carmelo An­thony, Rus­sell West­brook and Paul Ge­orge — ex­pec­ta­tions are high that the Thun­der’s newly as­sem­bled ‘Big Three’ can end their wait for a maiden NBA ti­tle this sea­son.

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