UPDATED: Oh, say, who will sing the National Anthem before the Oklahoma City Thunder’s NBA Finals games?
A version of this story appears in Monday’s The Oklahoman. This story was co-written with my excellent colleague Carla Hinton.
UPDATED: The Oklahoman’s Thunder beat writer Darnell Mayberry reported this afternoon on Twitter (@darnellmayberry) that “American Idol” finalist Jessica Sanchez will perform the National Anthem prior to Game 1 of the NBA Finals Tuesday night in Oklahoma City. Sanchez has recently performed the Anthem at two high-profile events: PBS’ Memorial Day concert and the Bradley-Pacquiao Fight.
Oh, say, who will sing before the Thunder’s NBA Finals games?
The Thunder’s front office won’t reveal what entertainers will sing the National Anthem before the upcoming home games, but belters who have performed “The Star-Spangled Banner” for OKC’s NBA team call the opportunity a big honor.
Isaac Hanson clearly recalls the precise moment when his love for the Oklahoma City Thunder hit its most fervent point.
“We were able to sing the (National) Anthem in the Western Conference Finals last year, and it literally just consumed me at that moment,” said the Tulsa singer/musician who is one third of the sibling trio Hanson.
“It took me back to my youth in the early to mid ‘90s when I was collecting Upper Deck and Fleer Ultra basketball cards. I had some Shaq rookie cards and … Alonzo Mourning, Larry Johnson, back in the day.”
He and brothers Zac and Taylor got the chance to give their harmonious rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” again May 31 during Game 3 of this year’s Western Conference Finals. So, they kicked off the festivities when the Thunder turned it all around against the San Antonio Spurs, embarking on a four-game winning streak that earned Oklahoma City a berth in its first NBA Finals.
“For us, the Anthem has always been extraordinarily important and a reverent experience and one that we’ve always taken really seriously,” Hanson said. “Singing it for the Thunder crowd in Oklahoma, having the team that is doing so well and such a young and vibrant team and then to have a crowd like the Oklahoma crowd, which I really think is extraordinarily unique … it was a lot of fun both times, particularly this time.”
As much as he enjoyed his band’s opportunities to sing the Anthem, Hanson hopes to say he can see some bigger names belting the country’s song when the Thunder’s NBA Finals series against the Miami Heat tips off at 8 p.m. Tuesday at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
“I think it’s pretty great that we’ve had the opportunity to get so many folks involved,” Hanson said. “But I’m kind of waiting for Miss (Carrie) Underwood and Mr. Vince Gill and maybe a little Reba and Garth while they’re at it because we need some country superstardom in there as well.”
John Leach, the Thunder’s director of events and entertainment, declined to reveal what performers will get star-spangled during the Oklahoma City games of the NBA Finals.
“That’s gonna be a surprise,” he said. “We have a few big names that we’re working out right now.”
Once Oklahoma City clinched its NBA Finals berth, he said Thunder and league officials began working to secure Anthem performers.
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