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Oklahoma City Thunder: Fandom reaches all the way to China

by Berry Tramel Published: June 8, 2012

Kevin Durant visited the Great Wall of China as part of a three-city tour of China last year.

Thunder phenomena stretches far. Oklahoma City absolutely could not purchase the publicity it is receiving through this NBA run.

Within 12 hours Thursday night/Friday morning, I received two emails. One came from my brother, who does a ton of business with Chinese officials. My brother received a business correspondence from who he described as a “very successful 50-year-old Chinese guy that lives in Shenzhen.” But before they got to the business, the guy started off the email this way: “First of all, congratulations to your city’s THUNDER qualified for the final championship battle!”

Then I received an email from Raymond Melton, environmental protection manager for the city of Oklahoma City.

“My son and daughter, Ryan and Kim, have been in China since Monday and have been able to catch parts of the last two Thunder games. They say the reaction to the Thunder has been awesome over there.

“‘The highlight of the day was going to Haikou village and meeting the Party secretary. He greeted us cordially and offered tea in the receiving room. Groups of men walked out of the room as we came in. The TV was on and guess what they had all been listening to … the Thunder’s game complete with Chinese commentary. We had our Thunder T-shirts on. The volunteer team could not believe it! The game was in the third quarter. We said goodbye to the party secretary after a short visit and hurried back to the hotel room to catch the last quarter.’”

Kim is a 24-year-old OU graduate. Ryan is 18 and just graduated from Midwest City. They are in China promoting healthy living lifestyles and practices.

I’ve written about some of the international correspondence in recent weeks concerning the Thunder. Switzerland. The Dominican Republic. Argentina. The NBA’s worldwide appeal is crazy.

We knew from Yao Ming that China was bonkers over basketball, but even post-Yao, China retains strong NBA interest. A Chinese media group, three or four strong, followed the Thunder-Spurs series.


by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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