Sports celebrations marred by violence happen in other U.S. cities, not ours. Or so we thought.
The shootings Monday night of eight people following the Thunder's victory over the Los Angeles Lakers were sad and unfortunate. But mostly they were frightening, and that's not good. Fear shouldn't be part of the equation when planning a night out in downtown Oklahoma City.
Officials with the Thunder were quick to point out that the shootings didn't occur in “Thunder Alley,” that stretch of Reno Avenue just outside Chesapeake Energy Arena where during home playoff games, thousands of fans have been whooping it up and watching the game on a video board.
Instead, the shootings occurred about three blocks east of the arena, in Bricktown, which has had a few shootings and violent altercations through the years but nothing of this scale. A police captain on the scene said there was a large police presence on hand Monday night “but we were outnumbered.”
One fan who had attended other playoff games told The Oklahoman that he felt “the element of the spectators changed for the worse” on Monday. “There seemed to be a lot of people out there looking for trouble.” Another fan said the atmosphere in the area has “gotten more and more intense every time we're out here.”
Ironically, the announcers working the game for TNT had pointed out during Monday's telecast how the city's rabid fans had helped our small-market team make a big mark on the NBA. A few hours later, reports about the Thunder's big victory over L.A. were accompanied by the ugly news of the shootings. That stings.
Police and city officials will explore what changes may be needed for the next round of home games. It's important to remember, though, that there's no accounting for idiots. And it only takes a few to spoil things for everyone.