To celebrate the Thunder’s rise from the dead this season, roughly 100 people assembled early Easter Sunday outside a private hangar at Will Rogers World Airport.
Fans lined a chain-link fence to greet the Thunder upon its return from a playoff-clinching victory Saturday night in Dallas.
Roughly 18 hours later, a sellout crowd of 18,203 showed up at the Ford Center, and the rejoicing continued with the Thunder’s 116-108 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
With six regular-season games remaining, the Thunder (48-28) is now 25 games ahead of last season’s 23-59 finish.
Not only did the Thunder unexpectedly clinch a postseason spot, it came during a season in which every Western Conference qualifier possibly could have 50-plus wins, which has happened only once (2007-08).
"I like the way we got in,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "We got in with a win. We didn’t get in because a team lost.”
Word had spread quickly on dailythunder.com of the potential airport assembly if the Thunder beat the Mavericks. Members of the Thunder travel party had no idea what awaited them.
"It was all a little overwhelming,” Brooks said. "Our players did a great job of going (to the fence) immediately, with high fives and talked to the crowd. I don’t know how many people were there, but it was loud
On his Twitter account, Kevin Durant posted: "Man I love our thunder fans so much! Came and greeted us as we got of the plane! It’s 12:17 am..feels good to bring the playoffs to Okc!"
Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook posted: "Best fans by far!!!!! Enough said !!”
What transpired came as a surprise to veteran point guard Kevin Ollie, who has made 15 stops in an NBA career that spans 13 seasons.