When the NBA is an extreme sport

It was the crescendo at the end of an emotional half-hour. By the end of Durant's speech, it was clear the Thunder had achieved another elusive element in the playoffs: unity. It's not that the franchise is normally rife with dysfunction. There may be quarrels, but rarely are there deep philosophical divides. It was just a unique opportunity to hear the appreciation for its most important player expressed, and for him to reciprocate the respect down to the least-used player on the roster.

It reminded you that while the Thunder might be disadvantaged in their series, down 1-0 in the series and suddenly without home-court advantage, they're in a fundamentally better place than their opponent, the Los Angeles Clippers.

The fallout from Donald Sterling's racially disturbing recorded conversations continued into Week 2, with the league announcing that Clippers president Andy Roeser will be taking an indefinite leave of absence.

Nobody "takes" a leave of absence in the middle of the playoffs with his team in contention for a championship, especially an executive who has awaited success as long as the folks in the Clippers' front office. But that was one of the things working against Roeser: He'd been by Sterling's side for three decades, and the NBA doesn't want anyone associated with Sterling to be associated with the Clippers anymore. It didn't help that Roeser signed off on the team's first official statement following the TMZ Sterling story, a press release whose tone came off to some as defiant and insensitive.

Roeser was the highest ranking person left in the organization, so his departure was decided by the league office in New York. The rest of the owners can't be comfortable with the NBA deciding it wants to run a franchise like Tony's crew taking over a business on "The Sopranos." It's another step down the slippery slope Mark Cuban foresaw. "If you look at the bylaws, they can do just about anything they want," a league source said.

There is one aspect of the Sterling story that made a reversal this week. Remember the player-power narrative that emerged in the wake of Adam Silver's announcement, when players felt their voices were heard and the rumblings of a potential boycott were felt? That phenomenon isn't universal quite yet.

In Golden State, the one thing Mark Jackson had going for him was the performance and support of his players. They played hard for him on the court, and they advocated on his behalf in front of the microphones. It didn't make a bit of difference to the Warriors. Ultimately the only relationships that mattered were the frosty ones Jackson had with the people above him on the organizational flow chart. Jackson didn't connect with the man at the top, Joe Lacob, and there was no one in between to advocate on Jackson's behalf. On Tuesday, Jackson was gone.

Here's a warning for the Warriors: Of the six teams that made the playoffs last season and changed coaches over the summer, only two -- the Clippers and Brooklyn Nets -- went deeper into the playoffs this season. Another warning: Some people around the NBA have taken notice of the way things went down and view the Warriors as a team that doesn't prioritize winning.

You know who really won the day Wednesday? Wanda Pratt. Just as graduation ceremonies are really about the parents, Durant's MVP award was really about his mom.

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