by Jenni Carlson Modified: October 25, 2009 at 9:33 am •  Published: October 25, 2009
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photo - Anne Seys and her daughter Amelia cheer on the Thunder during the preseason NBA basketball game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Phoenix Suns at the Ford Center on Monday, Oct. 12, 2009, in Oklahoma City, Okla. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman.
Anne Seys and her daughter Amelia cheer on the Thunder during the preseason NBA basketball game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Phoenix Suns at the Ford Center on Monday, Oct. 12, 2009, in Oklahoma City, Okla. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman.
Ma
ybe it's asking too much to think that fans could win the games a 23-win team couldn't.

Or is it?

Last year, before his Lakers came to Oklahoma City, Phil Jackson called out the Thunder faithful.

“They haven't quite figured out the NBA game, the length of it,” Jackson said. “They get all fired up in the beginning, and it's a marathon. It's 48 minutes of basketball. It's not like college where you can come out and get a 10-point lead or a 15-point lead and you can win the game.”

Of course, after the game, Jackson said: “Their crowd energizes that team. It makes it much more difficult to win. All teams will have a hard time when they come here.”

Man, it's hard to find anyone who has anything bad to say about Thunder fans. Granted, they gave Oklahoma native and Phoenix rookie Taylor Griffin a louder ovation than Thunder rookie James Harden in the exhibition home opener. Sure, they had to be encouraged to chant, “Thun-der Up,” but that might have more to do with a goofy slogan than a bad fan base.

“A good fan base is just keeping the players energized, keeping the building energized,” Thunder veteran Kevin Ollie said. “It's not like you're sitting back waiting for something to happen great from the team. You actually urge them on to go out there and do their best.”

Ollie, who is starting his 13th NBA season, compares Oklahoma City to Utah and San Antonio in terms of arena environment. Maybe that has something to do with teams in those cities being the only pro franchises in town. Those fans want their team to succeed. They will their team to win.

Can the same happen in Oklahoma City? Can the home court help turn this into a playoff contender?

That, Thunder fans, is the challenge.

“There's some games that you're going to be down, you're going to be hurt, you don't feel like playing, you're tired,” Thunder forward Jeff Green said. “But fans always have a big part in whatever we do.”


by Jenni Carlson
Columnist
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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