Five years ago, Sam Presti was hired to be the general manager of this current Oklahoma City Thunder team.
Four years ago, the Thunder wrapped up a 20-win season led by rookie Kevin Durant. Three years ago, rookie Russell Westbrook and Durant won 22 of the final 69 games under new coach Scott Brooks, who took over midseason for P.J. Carlesimo.
And then two years ago, the leap happened -- the Thunder more than doubled their win total to 50 games and reached the playoffs before losing to the eventual champion Los Angeles Lakers in the first round. One year ago, the Thunder reached the Western Conference finals and lost to the eventual champion Dallas Mavericks.
And this year, the Thunder reached the NBA Finals and lost to the champion Heat.
Notice a pattern?
Each year, one step closer to winning the championship. And now there's only one more step to take. The Thunder's soaring trajectory points them toward winning the Larry O'Brien trophy next season, but as Durant stressed to reporters recently, nothing is guaranteed in this league.
The Thunder find themselves on the brink of reaching the ultimate goal and should celebrate how far they've gone in so little time. They have a golden opportunity going forward, and almost every team would trade positions in a second.
But they have some tough decisions to make on the horizon. With three stars younger than 24 (Durant, Westbrook and James Harden) and another one in the making (Serge Ibaka), the Thunder have the essential ingredients of a dynasty, but they have to win the championship first.