June 21, 2012. That would be the last time James Harden, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook would play on the same floor in the same uniform as a member of the same team. However, back in 2010, no one could have predicted the final outcome.
Durant would arrive onto the scene first, being drafted by the then Seattle SuperSonics in 2007. The following year, Westbrook would become the first pick of the newly formed franchise in Oklahoma. The third piece of the puzzle would arrive in 2009, in the form of Harden.
The budding young stars had their coming out party in Game 3 of the 2010 Western Conference first round. The Oklahoma City Thunder were going toe-to-toe with the eventual champion Los Angeles Lakers.
Down by right points in the third quarter, a fierce comeback by the scrappy young bunch would echo in the minds of basketball fans for years to come. A ferocious Russell Westbrook poster, a smooth James Harden 3-pointer off the catch and a now-famous dagger Kevin Durant pull-up jumper -- a moment placed in a time capsule to remember simpler times. The iconic third quarter 8-0 run and eventual comeback win against the Lakers is now a piece of Thunder lore.
It was the first-ever postseason game in Oklahoma City. It featured an inexperienced team playing a playoff institution, an unknown, small-market team sending a message to one of the mightiest of the mighty big markets.
Fast forward eight years later, and the thought of the originals OKC big three exist only in the NBA afterlife, surrounded by a multiple what ifs?
Did the Thunder get it right?
Since the breakup, all three players have solidified their status as an NBA superstar. Each have appeared in All-Star games and made playoff appearances.
Harden was the last of the old OKC trio to win MVP. He was always the Thunder's third option, the star who had to sacrifice to serve as a sixth man, the one management wasn't willing to give a maximum contract to keep.
Even as Harden accepts the league's premier individual honor -- a year after his second runner-up finish, to Westbrook -- The Beard is overshadowed by his former teammate. Durant sits atop the NBA world weeks after claiming his second consecutive Finals MVP trophy and championship with the Golden State Warriors.
Had the organization found a way to keep Harden happy, the Thunder could have had the same success that the Warriors are having now.
OKC could have averaged 60 wins per season and would have competed for a top-3 seed in a competitive Western Conference. Throw in Steven Adams into the mix and the core four could have stood up against the Warriors for the conference crown.
Durant and company would have gotten another chance to defeat LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Andre Roberson, Dion Waiters and Enes Kanter would have made a great supporting unit against these recent Cavs teams.
There is no way of knowing if the Thunder made the right decision. Who is to say that Durant would elected to leave in free agency as he originally did.
Bottom line is Westbrook and Harden have joined Durant in the MVP club the past two seasons, while Durant has celebrated championships, the ultimate goal that has thus far eluded his old Oklahoma City running mates.
Arguably the most talented trio to ever play together in the NBA has separated, scattered throughout the Western Conference. We as fans will forever speculate what could have been and dream of the endless possibilities that could have been with the OG3 in OKC.
Even ESPN Films will attempt to solve the answer. In an upcoming 30 for 30, ESPN will dive into what was, what could’ve been and the current effects of OKC’s previous roster movements. Maybe the answer will never be known.