Stepping out of The Peake and onto Reno Avenue after these late-night Thunder playoff games is usually an exhale moment for me.
The work night is done. The deadline is over. The adrenaline is dying down.
When I hit the doors at the arena and cross Reno is when I feel it. It’s always dark. It’s usually quiet, save a few workers cleaning up the last remnants of Thunder Alley. It’s almost like I have a bit of the city all to myself, and it feels fantastic.
But last night, it felt the opposite of fantastic.
Leaving the arena around 1:15 a.m., the first thing I did was glance east down Reno Avenue. What I saw three blocks away was unlike anything I’d witnessed before. The street was awash in red and blue lights from what looked like a dozen police and emergency vehicles. They were still working a crime scene that was the result of a shooting right after the game.
Eight people were shot, one critically.
What an awful end to a glorious night.
The Thunder had just beaten the storied Lakers, bouncing Kobe and the boys, sending them home to L.A. after only five games. It was such a splendid moment, but not only for the franchise but also for the city. Oklahoma City besting Los Angeles? How often do we get to say that?
Then to have a few knuckleheads spoil our fun?
It breaks my heart.
Makes me mad, too.
Oklahoma City didn’t deserve this black eye. This city has worked too hard and come too far to have a couple numbskulls mess it up. Obviously, the vast, vast majority of fans who were downtown Monday night were on their best behavior, but that’s not what the national sports talk shows were jabbering about. That’s not what sports fans from all over the country were reading about; our story about the shootings had more hits on NewsOK.com than the rest of our Thunder content combined.
It boils my blood.
Listen, I understand that Oklahoma City is not immune to knuckleheadedness. No city is. But please, please, please tell me that this is a one-time thing. We haven’t seen such madness after Oklahoma football games or Oklahoma State basketball games. Heck, until Monday night, we hadn’t seen anything close to this after Thunder games.
I would prefer to go back to those dark, quiet streets that have always greeted me after Thunder games.
All of Oklahoma City should want that, too.