In the second round of last year's Western Conference playoffs, when Los Angeles Lakers forward Metta World Peace returned from a seven-game suspension for throwing a vicious elbow across the face of OKC sixth man James Harden, Thunder fans booed like they've never booed before at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
But when OKC hosts Houston in Game 5 on Wednesday at 8:30 p.m., the boo decibels likely will far exceed those hurled at MWP when Rockets point guard Patrick Beverley is introduced during pregame and at every available sequence thereafter.
It was Beverley who caused Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook to tear the lateral meniscus in his right knee of during the second quarter of Game 2, which resulted in the three-time All-Star undergoing season-ending knee surgery on Saturday morning in Vail, Colo.
Beverley tried to steal the ball by lunging in front of Westbrook as OKC was calling timeout. The left side of Beverley's hip collided with Westbrook's right knee.
In the 713 area code, it's been called a “freak accident” and simply part of the game.
In the 405 area code, Beverley's act is widely being considered as a “cheap shot.”
Thunder fans consider Beverley's malfeasance to be far more egregious than what MWP did.
Harden was sidelined the last two games of the regular season with a concussion, but was able to return for the postseason.
However, Westbrook has been sidelined the remainder of the season, which has severely damaged the Thunder's quest for this year's NBA title.
Thunder fans have booing versatility. In addition to booing the officials and MWP, local fans have even booed this season against Harden, the man they passionately endorsed for three seasons before he was traded to Houston Oct. 27.
Responses from Houston players to the Houston Chronicle when asked what kind of reception they anticipate for Beverley on Wednesday night:
“ ‘Booooo.' He's definitely going to get booed, but he blocks all that out and just plays hard.” – Harden
“Patrick, I'm sure they'll cheer him really loud. They love him there. No, I'm sure he'll get booed every time he touches the ball, but that's part of it. That's what makes it so fun and exciting, how passionate the fans are. And I'm sure he won't be bothered by it.” – forward Chandler Parsons