Reader Chris Aderhold is a native Oklahoman separated from his favorite team by a thousand miles. It’s been a challenge to follow the Thunder from afar, and I found his story interesting. So here you go.
Perhaps time has made the specific details a bit foggy, however, I still contend that the streamers were released before the shot even dropped completely through the net…
I was sitting with my Dad in section 115 of the Chesapeake Energy Arena the night Kevin Durant’s fall-away, buzzer beating three-pointer vanquished the defending champion Dallas Mavericks back in December – well, at that moment we were standing, and then we were dancing. As I’m sure you remember from that night, and have likely relived dozens of times on YouTube since, pandemonium ensued.
Comically, the first thing that crossed my mind after that impossible shot fell was; “The person in charge of pressing the release-the-streamers-from-the-rafters button has an incredibly quick trigger finger.”
Oh, and also, “Kevin Durant is so very sick!”
Sure, it was only the fourth game of this wild 2012 season, but the atmosphere and the emotion made it feel as though it was a playoff game. Walking out of the arena that night, I thought, “Wow… this’ll be a game I’ll tell my unborn sons Kevin and Russell about someday.”
Unfortunately, I’ve only been in attendance at one other Thunder game this year – that being the beat-down of the Bucks at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee a few weeks ago. Yes, I’ll also be able to tell my kiddos that I was there the night Serge Ibaka ponied up Mike Dunleavy, Jr. and then crushed his arm with that wicked Congo death grip, which was then of course followed by Ibaka showing off his lightning quick cat-like reflexes by avoiding Dunleavy’s slow motion karate chop – a chop that no doubt made senseis everywhere grimace.
I was in Milwaukee that night – it was Andrew Bogut bobble-head night, even though he had been traded three weeks prior – because though I was born and raised in the great state of Oklahoma, I’ve lived in Wisconsin for the entirety of the life of the Thunder.
Thankfully, my folks are Thunder season ticket holders and my brother occasionally gets tickets from his employer, because his employer has the same name as the arena. This allows me to attend a Thunder game or two each year when I’m back in Oklahoma for Christmas. This once-a-year visit to the Thunderdome gives me the rare opportunity to see first hand the improvements to both James Harden’s beard and Kevin Durant’s free-throw shimmy.
Otherwise, throughout the rest of the season, there is a lot of finger crossing that upcoming games will be aired on national TV. Or that, at the least, the local tavern will have the television package which includes the regional Fox station that’ll be broadcasting that nights game.
It can be a drag rooting for a team 1,000 miles away, but again, my relationship with the Thunder has been long distance from the get-go (No longer am I a naysayer of long distance relationships…). And really, how could I complain, the state of Oklahoma has a professional sports team; and a pretty dang good one at that. Their success, however, isn’t what I love the most about the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Wisconsin and Oklahoma have a lot in common – friendly people, loads of agriculture, and an appreciation for quality sports – which makes living so far away agreeable.
However, while Okies are divided by allegiances for the Cowboys or for the Sooners, up here in the Cheese State, there is but one choice for the collegiate rooting interests of Wisconsinites; the University of Wisconsin Badgers. (Marquette routinely puts together a solid basketball team, but because they last fielded a football team in 1960, the Badgers reign supreme.) There is no Wisconsin State or Wisconsin Tech, so the state has very little division (they’re also united by the Packers, Brewers and their common disdain for all things Illinois). Well, very little division unless you count that whole recall-the-Governor-spat – and since this is a sports post, I don’t…
This may not seem like a huge thing – there being little-to-no rooting divisiveness – but it stands out to me because it is so incredibly contrary to my upbringing as an orange blooded Oklahoman. For as long as I can remember, I’ve rooted for the Pokes, despite my father, brother, and sister pulling for the Sooners (my dear mother, God bless her, pulls for the Pokes so I don’t have to fly solo – though, as a child, consoling from Mom could only help so much while getting berated by Dad, brother, and sister after another Bedlam beat down by the Sooners).
As I was heading to Stillwater to start my freshman year at Oklahoma State, I remember being overly excited about the fact that, for the first time ever, I was to be surrounded entirely by fellow Cowboys fans. If the Pokes lost to the Sooners, the only berating would come through texts from my brother.
Which brings me back to our beloved Thunder. In a state so deeply divided by allegiances for the Cowboys or for the Sooners, the Thunder has become the Great Uniter.
And this is what I love most about our team. These days texts from my brother read simply; “Thunder Up,” or, “Artest’s new surname is contradictory…”
Had I been sitting next to my Dad during a game-winning three-pointer anywhere else, it would have likely left one of us bitter for the rest of the evening. However, Oklahoma has been blessed with the Great Uniter, and Cowboys and Sooners can finally celebrate together.
Yessir, it’s a good time to be an Okie, whether you live in Stillwater, Norman, Edmond, Shawnee, or Wisconsin.
With the playoffs nearly here, I can hardly contain my excitement to watch the Thunder and to yell encouragement from 1,000 miles away. And for those of you that’ll be attending playoff games, keep your eyes towards the rafters. I swear we’ve got the quickest streamer releaser in the NBA.