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Exhibition game featuring NBA stars at the Cox Center will be televised

Details emerge about event featuring NBA stars Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin and more.
By John Rohde, Staff Writer, jrohde@opubco.com Published: October 18, 2011
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There are multiple moving parts in organizing Sunday night's US Fleet Tracking Basketball Invitational at the Cox Convention Center.

Host Kevin Durant of the Thunder and former Oklahoma State great Desmond Mason are rounding up the players and handling their requests.

SMG will manage all aspects involved in staging the event, including court installation, seating, security and concessions.

It'll be business as usual for the staff of Gary Desjardins, who is general manager of the Cox Center and neighboring Chesapeake Energy Arena.

Preparations will be frantic because the Oklahoma City Barons play Grand Rapids on Friday and Saturday night inside the Cox Center.

"There's a lot of work to be done," Desjardins said Tuesday night. "We will do the best we can, and we have high expectations around here."

Because players are not allowed to use NBA facilities during the lockout, the game could not be held inside the refurbished and renamed arena across the street.

And because NBA personnel are not allowed to have any contact whatsoever with players during the lockout, the Thunder organization will have no involvement in Sunday's exhibition.

No one from the Thunder front office will be in the stands. No one from game operations, marketing or sales will lend a hand. There will be no Thunder Girls and no Rumble.

The massive chore of game ops now sits in the lap of Jay Lakin, who will have had 11 days to orchestrate a scaled-down, lockout version of the NBA All-Star Game.

That's not much time for anyone, particularly a 39-year-old area sales manager for the Shields Pipe Corporation.

"Pretty crazy," Lakin admitted. "We're going to try to put on the best show we can with the time we have available."

Lakin previously worked for the Oklahoma City Blazers hockey team for 10½ seasons and spent roughly half his tenure as director of game operations.

Brad Lund of Sold Out Strategies, who also is helping organize Sunday's exhibition, previously served as general manager of the Blazers and sought out Lakin.

Lakin's many responsibilities include hiring personnel for the pregame invocation, national anthem, player introductions, scoreboard operations, game officials, public address and auction announcements, music, timeout entertainment, the halftime show and a game announcer.

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NBA EXHIBITION GAME

When: 6 p.m. Sunday

Where: Cox Convention Center (seats 13,400)

TV: Cox Channel (Cox cable channels 3 and 703)

Player commitments: Kevin Durant (Thunder), Russell Westbrook (Thunder), James Harden (Thunder), Blake Griffin (Los Angeles Clippers), LeBron James (Miami Heat), Chris Paul (New Orleans), Carmelo Anthony (New York Knicks), Amar'e Stoudemire (New York Knicks), Jeff Green (Boston Celtics), John Wall (Washington Wizards), Rudy Gay (Memphis Grizzlies).

Tickets: Priced at $29 for upper section and $89 for lower bowl and can be purchased through Ticketmaster.com, coxconventioncenter.com, the Cox Center Box Office, participating Homeland stores or by calling 1-800-745-3000.

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