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5 things you learn being an OKC Thunder fan

by Richard Hall Modified: April 11, 2013 at 12:50 pm •  Published: April 13, 2013

It’s easy being an Oklahoma City Thunder fan because it sort of comes naturally. Oklahoma is a state with a strong connection to sports, and Oklahomans have a certain sense of loyalty about them that they take seriously.

Thunder Nation has come a long way, but the trip wasn’t all fun and games. It was also educational.

As the team grew, so did members of the nation. And along the way, you have all learned a few things. Things like…

5. You find a common ground in a divided sports state

Photo by Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman
Photo by Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman

Sports fans in Oklahoma can usually be described one of two ways: either as a Sooner, or as a Cowboy. It’s no secret that the dominant sport in the state is college football, and with good reason. Its history is long, the feuds epic and the fans committed.

But when the college football games are over and everything is left on the field, Oklahomans tend to put aside their differences, don some blue and white, and get Thunderstruck.

"Girl, you'd look better dressed as a pumpkin. You know that, right?" (Photo by Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman)
"Girl, you'd look better dressed as a pumpkin. You know that, right?" (Photo by Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman)

The Thunder has been in Oklahoma for nearly five years now, and the organization’s fandom hasn’t died down one ounce. And it’s not just because basketball season is “what people turn to when football season is over and out” — it’s because everyone can rally behind one team. Hence the terms One Thunder, Thunder Pride, Team is Oklahoma, Team is Community, Blue Alliance and We Are One. Every single fan fits into those descriptors, and every single fan embraces it wholeheartedly.

Photo by Steve Sisney/The Oklahoman
Photo by Steve Sisney/The Oklahoman

And the honest truth is the Thunder organization has done a fantastic job of realizing what they have in their fans and, in turn, gives their fans plenty of ways to express their sense of pride in the Thunder Nation.

Which, I think, gets noticed around the globe. And, because of that…


 

4. No one hates you because everyone loves the Thunder

Photo by Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman
Photo by Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman

I got married in June 2012, during the NBA Finals between the Thunder and the Miami Heat. Moreover, I got married and honeymooned at Walt Disney World, which is near Orlando, Fla. Yeah, it isn’t Miami, but it’s close enough, so you might think you know where this is headed.

Of course, the wife and I took some Thunderwear along: lanyards, a couple hats and some T-shirts. I was wearing Thunder gear almost daily, because I wanted to represent my home team while I was away from the state.

And one thing that surprised me was how many people expressed how much they love the Thunder.

This was pretty much the sight everywhere we went. (Photo by David McDaniel/The Oklahoman)
This was pretty much the sight everywhere we went. (Photo by David McDaniel/The Oklahoman)

People would come up and tell us how they wanted to see the Thunder win the NBA Championship. They came up to us to exclaim their adoration for, literally, every team member, including coach Scott Brooks.

People would yell “Thunder Up!” if they weren’t close enough to say anything else. And, you wouldn’t believe how many people we saw at Disney World wearing Thunder shirts. Naturally, we went up to ask what part of Oklahoma they were from — to our surprise, most of them weren’t from Oklahoma.

Then we ran into a man who was decked out in full Heat gear: Sunglasses, polo, lanyard… He even had a championship ring from their 2006 victory.

Turned out, he was Miami Heat statistician…

I thought it was going to happen. For reals.
I thought it was going to happen. For reals.

AND EVEN HE PRAISED THE THUNDER. </excitement>

That’s right, no lies. The guy talked about how much he enjoyed watching the “young guns” on the Thunder’s roster, and that he knew they’d be a championship-winning team soon (just not right then).

So, you see: Even people who work for the Heat organization can’t help but love the Thunder.

In a way, it’s spoiled the fans. And sometimes it takes a jolt to bring fans back down to reality, like when…


 

3. It hits home that the NBA is a business

The James Harden trade could be considered the first big gut-check Thunder fans received in the organization’s young but eventful history. Yeah, so the Thunder didn’t beat the Heat in 2012 — there was always next year. What fans didn’t know was the team would be heading into the upcoming season sans a fan favorite. When the story broke on NewsOK, social media exploded and the news spread like crazy.

Some fans were distraught. Some felt betrayed. Some were looking forward to the team’s future with Kevin Martin. Kevin Durant, though, spoke for the entire Thunder Nation:

 

What everyone learned from the trade was that the NBA is still a business, and the Thunder has to make moves that make sense to the organization.

Of course we all know things like that happen. But fans had gotten so used to the Big 3 in Durant, Russell Westbrook and Harden, that they thought they were inseparable. Heck, maybe they’d even stick with the team until they retired.

When it comes to professional sports, wishful thinking needs to be done with caution, and the Harden trade hit that point home with authority.

In Presti we trust. (Photo by Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman)
In Presti we trust. (Photo by Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman)

But even Harden’s departure couldn’t completely dampen the spirits of a certain Thunder demographic because, as you know…


 

2. All your female friends are/will fall in love with Serge Ibaka

Photo by Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman
Photo by Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman

Women of the Thunder Nation love Serge Ibaka, and those who claim they don’t just haven’t realized it yet.

No one is sure why this is, or what Ibaka’s powers are. Maybe it’s because of this:

Or this:

Maybe it’s because he just makes people smile.

Photo by the Associated Press
Photo by the Associated Press

Whatever the reason, I’m sure Ibaka is appreciative of all the love. The entire team is appreciative. The entire organization! After all, the most important thing you learn being an OKC Thunder fan is…


 

1. You realize the Thunder and its fans form a great community

Photo by Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman
Photo by Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman

The Thunder has its hand in numerous community service and outreach programs ranging from promoting literacy to addressing social issues like education, family and health. These sorts of things encourages fans to further connect with the team and organization, and it’s a way the NBA and organization can give thanks for all the support they receive.

Also, cynicism shouldn’t be attached to any of this: The Thunder has every bit of an interest and pursuance as fans do when it comes to the growth and well-being of the entire state of Oklahoma. They initiate a call to action and the Thunder Nation responds.

But I’ve written enough. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so the following images can speak for themselves.

Thunder fan Teavion Morris shows his support for his team during Game 2 in the second round of the NBA Playoffs between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the L.A. Lakers at Chesapeake Energy Arena on Tuesday, May 15, 2012. Photo by Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman
Thunder fan Teavion Morris shows his support for his team during Game 2 in the second round of the NBA Playoffs between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the L.A. Lakers at Chesapeake Energy Arena on Tuesday, May 15, 2012. Photo by Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman
Fans hold signs honoring members of the military during Military Appreciation Night during an NBA basketball game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Washington Wizards at Chesapeake Energy Arena on Wednesday, March 27, 2013. Photo by Nate Billings/The Oklahoman
Fans hold signs honoring members of the military during Military Appreciation Night during an NBA basketball game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Washington Wizards at Chesapeake Energy Arena on Wednesday, March 27, 2013. Photo by Nate Billings/The Oklahoman
Oklahoma City fan Chris Morris, also known as "The Heckler," taunts a Denver player's free throw during the first round NBA Playoff basketball game between the Thunder and the Nuggets at Chesapeake Energy Arena on Wednesday, April 20, 2011. Photo by John Clanton/The Oklahoman
Oklahoma City fan Chris Morris, also known as "The Heckler," taunts a Denver player's free throw during the first round NBA Playoff basketball game between the Thunder and the Nuggets at Chesapeake Energy Arena on Wednesday, April 20, 2011. Photo by John Clanton/The Oklahoman
Oklahoma City Thunder fans Connor Ellingson (left) from Tulsa, and Maurice Fell from Tulsa, react to the Thunder defeating San Antonio while watching the game at Leon's on Brookside, in Tulsa, Okla, on June 6 2012. Photo by James Gibbard/Tulsa World
Oklahoma City Thunder fans Connor Ellingson (left) from Tulsa, and Maurice Fell from Tulsa, react to the Thunder defeating San Antonio while watching the game at Leon's on Brookside, in Tulsa, Okla, on June 6 2012. Photo by James Gibbard/Tulsa World
Adam Nasreddine and his sisters Rania and Jessica react as players take the floor at the Oklahoma City Thunder exhibition game against the Phoenix Suns at the BOK Center on Oct. 19, 2012. Photo by Mike Simons/Tulsa World
Adam Nasreddine and his sisters Rania and Jessica react as players take the floor at the Oklahoma City Thunder exhibition game against the Phoenix Suns at the BOK Center on Oct. 19, 2012. Photo by Mike Simons/Tulsa World
Bryan Scagnetti of Oklahoma City carries his son, Preston Scagnetti, 3, outside the arena before Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Playoffs at the Chesapeake Energy Arena on Saturday, June 2, 2012. Photo by Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman
Bryan Scagnetti of Oklahoma City carries his son, Preston Scagnetti, 3, outside the arena before Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Playoffs at the Chesapeake Energy Arena on Saturday, June 2, 2012. Photo by Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman
Reggie Jackson poses for a photo with bingo winner Helen LaRue during the Oklahoma City Thunder's 1,000th community appearance at Ranchwood Nursing Home on Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012, in Yukon, Okla. Photo by Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman
Reggie Jackson poses for a photo with bingo winner Helen LaRue during the Oklahoma City Thunder's 1,000th community appearance at Ranchwood Nursing Home on Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012, in Yukon, Okla. Photo by Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman
Chris Zamorano of Oklahoma City gets a free Thunder tattoo from Josh Poindexter of Tornado Tattoo in Oklahoma City, Friday, June 8, 2012. Photo by Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman
Chris Zamorano of Oklahoma City gets a free Thunder tattoo from Josh Poindexter of Tornado Tattoo in Oklahoma City, Friday, June 8, 2012. Photo by Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman
Oklahoma City Thunder fan Jackson Kinnear poses for a photo with his 20 Oklahoma City Thunder Playoff shirts, one from every playoff game through the 2012 Western Conference Finals, in Oklahoma City, Friday, June 8, 2012. Photo by Nate Billings/The Oklahoman
Oklahoma City Thunder fan Jackson Kinnear poses for a photo with his 20 Oklahoma City Thunder Playoff shirts, one from every playoff game through the 2012 Western Conference Finals, in Oklahoma City, Friday, June 8, 2012. Photo by Nate Billings/The Oklahoman
Oklahoma City Thunder fans sit in the outfield of David Allen Memorial Ballpark to watch a broadcast of Game 3 of the NBA Finals basketball series between the Thunder and the Miami Heat, Sunday, June 17, 2012, in Enid, Okla. Photo by Billy Hefton/Enid News & Eagle
Oklahoma City Thunder fans sit in the outfield of David Allen Memorial Ballpark to watch a broadcast of Game 3 of the NBA Finals basketball series between the Thunder and the Miami Heat, Sunday, June 17, 2012, in Enid, Okla. Photo by Billy Hefton/Enid News & Eagle
Briley Hedrick, 5, of Binger, shoots a basketball while having fun in the fan fest before the start of the first round NBA basketball playoff game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Denver Nuggets on Sunday, April 17, 2011, in Oklahoma City, Okla. Photo by Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman
Briley Hedrick, 5, of Binger, shoots a basketball while having fun in the fan fest before the start of the first round NBA basketball playoff game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Denver Nuggets on Sunday, April 17, 2011, in Oklahoma City, Okla. Photo by Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman
Kevin Durant signs Andrew Rains' shirt before an NBA basketball game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Golden State Warriors at Chesapeake Energy Arena on Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012. Andrew Rains suffers from cerebral palsy, and is attending his first Thunder game. He never misses a game on television. Photo by Garett Fisbeck/The Oklahoman
Kevin Durant signs Andrew Rains' shirt before an NBA basketball game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Golden State Warriors at Chesapeake Energy Arena on Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012. Andrew Rains suffers from cerebral palsy, and is attending his first Thunder game. He never misses a game on television. Photo by Garett Fisbeck/The Oklahoman
Reggie Jackson, left, along with members of the Thunder Girls, Jeremy Lamb and Nick Collison, present a check for $1,000 to the nursing home during the Oklahoma City Thunder's 1,000th community appearance at Ranchwood Nursing Home on Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012, in Yukon, Okla. Photo by Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman
Reggie Jackson, left, along with members of the Thunder Girls, Jeremy Lamb and Nick Collison, present a check for $1,000 to the nursing home during the Oklahoma City Thunder's 1,000th community appearance at Ranchwood Nursing Home on Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012, in Yukon, Okla. Photo by Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman
Garrett Haviland gets his stomach painted by Chase Dryden before Game 2 of the NBA Finals between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Miami Heat at Chesapeake Energy Arena on Thursday, June 14, 2012. Photo by Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman
Garrett Haviland gets his stomach painted by Chase Dryden before Game 2 of the NBA Finals between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Miami Heat at Chesapeake Energy Arena on Thursday, June 14, 2012. Photo by Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman
Rumble the bison is greeted by fans Leslie and Kohen Wafer during the Oklahoma City Thunder's 1,000th community appearance at Ranchwood Nursing Home on Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012, in Yukon, Okla. Photo by Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman
Rumble the bison is greeted by fans Leslie and Kohen Wafer during the Oklahoma City Thunder's 1,000th community appearance at Ranchwood Nursing Home on Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012, in Yukon, Okla. Photo by Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman
Brianna Gernandt, 14, Reagan Harris, 11, and Cameron Gernandt, 11, cheer during a welcome home rally for the Oklahoma City Thunder at a field near Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City, Friday, June 22, 2012. Photo by Garett Fisbeck/The Oklahoman
Brianna Gernandt, 14, Reagan Harris, 11, and Cameron Gernandt, 11, cheer during a welcome home rally for the Oklahoma City Thunder at a field near Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City, Friday, June 22, 2012. Photo by Garett Fisbeck/The Oklahoman
Wearing a foam finger and cheering from Loud City, Sabrina Darville of Oklahoma City celebrates a Thunder basket during the second half of Game 7 of the NBA basketball Western Conference semifinals between the Memphis Grizzlies and the Oklahoma City Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena on Sunday, May 15, 2011. Photo by John Clanton/The Oklahoman
Wearing a foam finger and cheering from Loud City, Sabrina Darville of Oklahoma City celebrates a Thunder basket during the second half of Game 7 of the NBA basketball Western Conference semifinals between the Memphis Grizzlies and the Oklahoma City Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena on Sunday, May 15, 2011. Photo by John Clanton/The Oklahoman

Thunder Up, Oklahoma.

by Richard Hall
Newsroom Developer
Richard Hall is an award-winning newsroom developer, editor and blogger for NewsOK. He was born in Austin, Texas, spent his childhood in southern California and has lived in Norman since 1999. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2008.
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