Western Conference Champions. i’m breathless with excitement. (i used up all my exclamation points last night celebrating the win.) i’m so proud to be an okie and a Thunder fan right now. and i’m truly not surprised that they’ve made it this far.
the OKC Thunder are a unique team in a obvious way that has nothing to do with their fierce talent and fearless energy on the court. they make it clear that the players consider their team a family, and the fans are part of that family. this attitude is displayed in every interview, every game, and every product.
the slogans “Rise Together” and “Team is One” are not just buzzwords, but a genuine declaration of the team’s motto. quotes from the players and coaches like “we won because we stayed together” and “you’ve got to play for your teammates” exemplify the spirit of this young team, our city, and our state. and everyone knows it.
it’s a reputation so well-known that when the NBA designed a series of promos for the playoffs centering around the word “big,” the piece on the Thunder highlighted this unified feeling. “if you are from around here, you are part of one TEAM, one FAMILY, and you’ve seen your kids grow BIG.”
the solidarity did not develop by accident. when the players arrived in OKC, they visited the bombing memorial and began to understand the impact of that event on the face of the city. kevin durant said that he wanted the NBA team to help change the persona of OKC from one associated with a tragedy to something positive. and the people of OKC have embraced the opportunity to pour their hearts into more than just honoring loved ones’ memories by rebuilding, but by rallying behind another representation of the character and strength of okies. the community has responded with love, support, and art. i just love the relationship between our players and our state.
the enthusiasm of the fans that fill the arena reaches ear-splitting decibels and defines our home-court advantage. (especially in the nosebleed sections, known as “loud-city.”) even in one of the smallest cities to have an NBA team, the games are almost always filled to capacity, and during the playoffs the entire crowd has no problem donning identical shirts to blanket the risers with a huge Thunder banner. the simple design of last night’s shirts was perfect.
and back to last night’s incredible conference-clinching win…again, there were several examples of the team spirit that epitomizes the OKC Thunder. i loved that the signature play was a durant assist to perkins in the final minute. most NBA superstars want to take that final shot. they want the highlight for their legacy, for their brand, for their rep. but not durant, who has become the face of the franchise. he was unselfish and made the right basketball play, which is characteristic of this 23-year-old leader. kd just wants to win, he doesn’t need the hype or drama. (just compare lebron’s lengthy televised decision to go to south beach to kevin’s tweet announcing his extended contract with okc for an example of how kd stands out from the typical high-caliber basketball talent.)
it’s hard to believe that we have a good chance of winning the NBA finals after just four short seasons, but i’m confident they can do it, so proud of how the team has grown, and thrilled to be experiencing this wild ride as an enthusiastic fan.