Bleed Thunder Blue All Week

By Nick Gallo | Broadcast and Digital Reporter | okcthunder.com

Every year as the season ends, Thunder General Manager and Executive Vice President Sam Presti meets with the media to deliver his view on all aspects of the organization, giving as much time as the local press corps desires. Around the league its abnormal for general managers to speak for over 90 minutes as Presti normally does, but to wrap the 2021-22 campaign, Presti graciously gave a window into the team’s thinking to the media and fans over the course of 2 hours and 13 minutes.

Beginning with a 31-minute opening address followed by a press conference that covered the past, the present and the future of the team, Presti answered every question until the media was left questionless.

Reminiscing on the 2021-22 Thunder season, Presti noted that not only did every player take a stride forward this season, but that even more importantly, the team improved as a collective unit. From compiling a top 10 defense when fully healthy to evolving on offense from a playstyle standpoint, highlighted by a 7-minute stretch in Dallas against the Mavericks, Presti had plenty to be optimistic about. Perhaps the most important reason for that sunny outlook is the players’ disposition – a camaraderie within the locker room from building something together matched with a relentlessness on the court.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander during game at Dallas Mavericks on Jan. 17.

“At the start of the season we talked about setting a baseline for the team. I think we accomplished that,” said Presti. “We had a productive year. We're further ahead than a year ago.”

As far as next season is concerned, Presti laid out a vision for internal competition, both among and between players that will be amplified by the continuity another year of offseason workouts, Summer League and training camp provide. The Thunder will have the opportunity to continuing to layer young talent into the roster, while also having decisions to make during free agency and with contract extensions, but all of those choices are building towards the team’s larger goal of sustainable success. Instead of watching the clock on when the organization will see fruit, Presti has the Thunder instead focused on setting its own pace.

“You can't have one eye on the clock and one eye on the destination,” Presti said. “We need to have two eyes on the path for us to be successful.”

That type of attitude isn’t an accident. It’s one borne of the Thunder’s birth in Oklahoma City. As much as the Thunder aims to be a leader in the state, it also aspires to emulate the values its people hold by generating a culture where a team can win. Presti called upon the Latin phrase Labor omnia vincit, Oklahoma’s state motto, meaning “work conquers all” for the mindset the Thunder players, coaches and staffers carry forth each day.

“That’s the beauty of Oklahoma. People here don't expect to be handed things,” said Presti. “They don't expect to have the yellow brick road like laid out for them. I think people here expect to work for what they get. I think they expect to do it together, unified.”

That’s exactly how the Thunder expects to get from being the youngest team in the NBA this past season to an arrival in the years to come. Presti is confident that when that happens, Oklahomans and Thunder fans around the world will rejoice, but particularly those who “bleed blue” and remember the path the organization took along the way and the legacy of the players each left.

You can find everything you need on the three main topics Presti covered this week at okcthunder.com:

Tuesday – Presti’s View on 2021-22

Wednesday – Pressing Ahead into the Offseason

Thursday – The Thunder’s Oklahoma Spirit