Sunday night Walker and I continued our tradition of attending every single Thunder home playoff game. Along with gulping down a concession stand kosher hotdog and Amber Bock for good luck. There is nothing better. Go Thunder.
Several months ago, I was sitting in a waiting room casually leafing through an NBA preview issue of Sports Illustrated when I became so engrossed in this cover-page story on the Thunder and what this team means to Oklahoma City that I began to tear up.
Not to be too cheesy, but it becomes even more significant in light of today's date, April 19th:
In that way and more, Oklahoma City has done as much to develop the Thunder as the Thunder has done to develop Oklahoma City.
Seven players file into a dimly lit room with gray carpet and a low-slung ceiling on the third floor of the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum in late September. They squeeze on to a narrow bench pressed against the back wall. The space has been designed to replicate the hearing room in the basement of the Water Resources Board building that used to be across the street. On a table in the front of the room is a tape recorder, playing a hearing that began at 9 a.m. on April 19, 1995. A man is petitioning to bottle groundwater from his property and sell it. Two minutes into the hearing there's an explosion, followed by sounds of breaking glass and cries for help. Lights flicker, the room in the memorial goes dark, and the faces of the 168 who died in the bombing of the Alfred R. Murrah Federal Building are illuminated on the wall. Two of them, five-year-old Aaron Coverdale and his younger brother, Elijah, catch the eye of guard Eric Maynor. Later, Maynor stares at a glass case holding Aaron's Transformers and Elijah's toy cars, shaking his head.
"You all are a part of this story," the tour guide, Joanne Riley, tells the players. "You are a testimony to how this whole city can rise like a phoenix from the ashes."
When the team moved from Seattle to Oklahoma City, general manager Sam Presti wanted all his players to tour the memorial before their first open practice. Now every new player is taken to the memorial, usually in the weeks leading up to training camp, and sometimes more than once. When guard Royal Ivey came to Oklahoma City for his free-agent visit this summer, he asked Presti about the crowd at the Ford Center, how such a small market generates the most noise in the NBA. The fans have become a source of curiosity around the league, for painting their chests like frat boys, standing for long stretches and commencing a 20-minute ovation for the team three seconds after the season-ending loss to the Lakers. Presti ushered Ivey to the memorial. "It took my breath away," Ivey says. "After that I called my agent. I wanted to be a part of this."
...I would highly recommend reading the rest of the article, with its lines like: They are the organic superteam, farm to table, with 24 appearances coming up on national television, after being scheduled for only three the past two years combined.
Also, I really want one of these shirts.