The degree to which this year’s condensed schedule has impacted NBA teams can be summed up by simply looking at the Thunder’s recent and upcoming matchups. Less than a week after facing four teams in five games in their solitary clashes of the season (Chicago Bulls, Indiana Pacers, Toronto Raptors, Milwaukee Bucks), the Thunder had to turn around and host the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday before playing them again on Monday, making it an even four face-offs this season.

It’s special to see how closely connected Thunder players like Kevin Durant are with the Oklahoma City community, and that bond couldn’t have been more apparent than on Thursday afternoon at the Thunder Community Events Center. Durant, who seems to have the pulse of the Oklahoma area, took the time out of his afternoon to put on a basketball clinic in conjunction with Nike and the Thunder for youth from the Chickasaw Nation.

The students in Marcus Garvey Leadership Charter School’s pre-K through first-grade classes found a little of themselves in the books that two Thunder players read to them Thursday afternoon.

Even if they didn’t identify directly with the stories, the players made the connection for them.

“E is for energy,” said Daequan Cook as he read through “J is for Jump Shot: A Basketball Alphabet” with the excited group. “Ya’ll got a lot of that already.”

The Thunder wrapped up its game against the Los Angeles Clippers at 10 p.m. on Wednesday and scheduled practice for 11 the next morning, but by 8:45 a.m., half the team had already shown up at the Integris Health Thunder Development Center.

Center Kendrick Perkins is one of the most respected members of the Thunder locker room, but the display of dedication this morning showed him that he doesn’t have to speak up too much to get his teammates focused. They already are.

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