Ersan Ilyasova

Russell Westbrook gives it his all in trying to keep the Oklahoma City Thunder afloat

Russell Westbrook gives it his all in trying to keep the Oklahoma City Thunder afloat

Losing a most valuable player has proved to be like trying to recover a lost fortune for NBA teams.

Nine months ago, Oklahoma City lost an MVP who made the city swell with pride. The small market Thunder franchise faced a crossroads once Kevin Durant left for the Golden State Warriors only five years after parting with James Harden, but Oklahoma City has persevered like no other franchise to remain a top-10 NBA team.

There was no template for post-MVP success after the following MVP subtractions:

— The Cleveland Cavaliers went from 61 wins to 19 after four-time MVP LeBron James left. They continued to spiral downward until his 2014 return.

— The Miami Heat went...

EDITION: California | U.S. & World
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