MOORE — Drew Hooper already has a seat on the Thunder Bandwagon.
And he might just let you ride shotgun.
Come take a ride in his Thundermobile.
The local artist has transformed his 1996 Suzuki X-90 into a moving tribute to the team he loves. He painted the car with Thunder colors, Thunder players and even a Thunder-related motivational quote.
“I don't know how long it will last,” he said of the paint job, which is largely acrylics with a protective coating over it, “but hopefully it'll last through the playoffs and the championship.”
With the NBA Playoffs and Thunder mania in full swing, lots of people have Thunder license plates. Lots more have Thunder car flags. But a Thunder car?
This is one fan who has shifted his passion into overdrive.
Hooper had been pondering painting his car for awhile. Murals to honor deceased rapper Tupac Shakur or to celebrate the Thunder were among his ideas. Yes, it was partially because of his artistic side, but he also wasn't worried about hurting the resale of his car.
It's a 16-year-old model that the manufacturer stopped making after only two years, for crying out loud.
“My car ... not matter what you do to it, it's going to be about the same value,” Hooper said, “so I thought I couldn't lose. I'm an artist, so why not turn my car into a canvas.”
Still, for the longest time, he never did.
Then, last week before the playoffs started, he had lunch with his cousin. The idea of the Thundermobile came up, and Hooper decided its time had come.
He spent the rest of the day buying supplies — he spent about $200 — and that night, he sanded down the deep purple exterior of the car and spray painted it white.
The next day, he used transparencies and a projector to paint the faces on the passenger side. Kendrick Perkins. Kevin Durant. James Harden. Derek Fisher. Nick Collison. Cole Aldrich.
The next day came the driver side. Daequan Cook. Thabo Sefolosha. Russell Westbrook. Serge Ibaka.
Hooper is sorry he couldn't include everyone.
“I love all the players; I really don't have a favorite,” he said. “But an X-90 is only so big. I could only fit so many people.”
The last touch on his car was a quote from Frederick Douglass on the hood — “It is not light that we need, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but THUNDER.”
Hooper said, “I think that speaks a lot to the team and the state and the city.”
And the Thundermobile is speaking to Hooper's fellow fans.
He and his wife went to Game 2 on Saturday night, and as they sat in stop-and-go traffic in the rain outside the arena, a fan ran up to the car.
“He starts taking pictures of the car in the pouring rain,” Hooper said. “I'm like, ‘This guy is crazy,' but I'm posing in my car.”
“Traffic starts going, and people start honking, and I'm thinking, ‘Should I go or stay and let him take pictures?' Of course, I stayed and let him take pictures. I thought it was only right.
“I mean, he was out in the middle of the rain.”
The Thundermobile's adoring public is growing. Whether he's driving to work at Riverwind Casino or running errands around town, Hooper has seen lots of smiles, waves and thumbs up
There have also been some raised eyebrows.
Then again, Hooper has been folding his 6-foot-2 frame into that little purple car for the past six or seven years. He's used to people giving him funny looks.
“Whenever you drive a car like this,” he said, smiling, “you can't care what other people think.”
How are you celebrating the Thunder during its run through the playoffs? Are you growing a beard like James Harden? Have you painted the Thunder logo on your lawn?
Whatever you're doing, we want to see your pictures and hear your stories.
Send them to Jenni Carlson at firstname.lastname@example.org.