It wasn't a Kevin Durant dunk or Serge Ibaka block, but an El Reno pastor managed to come up with a play of his own that drew quite a bit of attention from the crowd at Wednesday's Oklahoma City Thunder NBA game at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
In his invocation before Wednesday's game, the Rev. Ronnie Fields said: “We pray for world peace and may you carry our soldiers home safely.”
Fields' choice of words put some people in mind of Los Angeles Laker forward Metta World Peace, formerly known as Ron Artest, who elbowed the Thunder's James Harden in the head during a game on April 22.
Fields, senior pastor of First Christian Church of El Reno, said he intended his words to be a jab, no pun intended, at Metta World Peace.
“Ron Artest has his own set of problems,” Fields said. “He changed his name to World Peace, but he's still Ron Artest underneath.”
While some people may have booed his words, Fields said he did not hear any boos. He said he heard the crowd respond with “oohs” as they showed their surprise by his double entendre. Fields said someone at the game asked him “if I knew what I said.”
Fields, 38, said his words were intentional. He said he thinks it's OK to have some fun at the Thunder games.
“We are called to pray for our enemies, and I believe God has a sense of humor,” Fields said Thursday.
He said his Facebook friends encouraged him, good-naturedly, to pray for world peace when he mentioned that he would be giving the invocation before Wednesday's game. Fields said he gave the invocation at two Thunder games last season — one during the regular season and one during the playoffs.
He said he thought about waiting to see if he was invited to give the prayer during a Thunders-Lakers playoff game, which may or may not happen. Laughing, Fields said he decided to go ahead and offer the playful double entendre on Wednesday.
“It's wonderful to experience the Thunder,” he said. “Hopefully, they'll ask me back.”
Public pregame prayers are unusual in the NBA, although they are standard for the Thunder and the New Orleans Hornets, which temporarily played home games in Oklahoma City.