At the 2006 NBA All-Star Game, I was with then-colleague Andrew Gilman as he got a few minutes to interview Carrie Underwood. She was singing at the game — I suppose the national anthem, but I don’t really remember — and the G-Man asked Underwood about the Hornets being in Oklahoma City.
He might as well have asked her in Chinese. Underwood’s face went absolutely blank, and the G-Man had to explain who the Hornets were. She pleasantly shrugged and said she really didn’t follow basketball but her boyfriend was trying to teach her. I don’t think it was Tony Romo yet, but you never know.
Anyway, fast forward to Monday, on the “Ellen” show, the Ellen Degeneres talk show. Guest Kristen Chenoweth, best-known for her starring role in Broadway’s “Wicked” and a television gig on “The West Wing,” comes out in a Kevin Durant Thunder jersey.
Chenoweth grew up in Broken Arrow and attended Oklahoma City University. She’s always maintained her Oklahoma ties. But promoting the Thunder seemed above and beyond the call of duty.
Degeneres took the bait, asking Chenoweth immediately about the jersey. Chenoweth marginally explained who the Thunder and Kevin Durant are, though you could tell she’s not exactly Kenny Smith when it comes to NBA expertise, and said, “I’m supporting my team.” Thunder blogger Chris Silva has posted a link to the video at http://thunder-nba.com/thunderblog/
It’s not Jack Nicholson sitting courtside for a quarter century of Laker games, but 4-foot-11 Kristen Chenoweth, wearing a kids Kevin Durant jersey, is a sign that a little Thunder momentum can grow on the national pop culture landscape.