NBA

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is afraid of needles, so Thunder teammate Lu Dort held his hand during vaccination

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One of the most important elements of an NBA rebuild is developing a culture. Some of the most talented teams in league history have disintegrated due to poor chemistry and lacking an identity. The Oklahoma City Thunder, owners of 35 draft picks over the next seven years, have to be especially cognizant of those intangible factors. With so many assets for so few spots in the starting lineup and even on the roster, it would be easy for players to feel hypercompetitive with one another. 

But if Tuesday was any indication, the young players who currently comprise the Thunder core are completely supportive of one another. Players recently received vaccinations for COVID-19, but star Thunder point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is afraid of needles. The solution? Teammate Luguentz Dort held his hand as he got his shot. 

First of all, this is adorable. Let’s just get that out of the way. Second, it’s an encouraging bit of camaraderie between two players the Thunder hope will populate their backcourt for quite some time. Dort is under contract through the 2022-23 season, and Gilgeous-Alexander becomes extension-eligible for the first time this offseason, when, in all likelihood, he will receive a five-year contract offer to remain with the Thunder. 

Ultimately, the Thunder are going to make decisions based on the acquisition of basketball talent. But this is a team that has had several superstars over the years without walking away with a championship. The Thunder have the assets to recreate those talented teams, and now, it seems that they have the culture to compete for titles as well. 



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