Chris Paul took the first stab at it.
After that first game of the season in Tulsa, Paul stood against the blue Thunder backdrop fielding questions from media. In the 3 minutes and 45 seconds he stood in front of that backdrop, he used the word “spirit” four times to describe the vibe he had with his teammates during the game.
“The spirit was right,” he said. “Guys are genuinely happy to see each other doing well and I think we can build off that.”
At the time, it was hard to tell whether that post-game “spirit” was a residual effect of the first win of the season or whether it was the lingering ebullience of seeing Steven Adams sink a 3-pointer on the first possession of the game. However, as time passed, we came to learn that Paul’s statements in that post-game interview were a testament to the potential within this group of guys to build incredible chemistry. Paul’s words were essentially prophetic.
That “spirit” he was referring to was a precursor to the undeniable bond that this Thunder team ended up building together both on and off the floor. This became evident on road trips throughout the season. In the league’s most hostile environments, the Thunder proved that it could withstand the highs and lows of opposing crowds and all it truly needed was the energy from its own sideline. Since the beginning of December, the squad has gone 19-4 on the road and at one point held a nine-game road winning streak, the longest in Thunder history and the best in the NBA at the time.