Jenni Carlson: Thunder fans need to turn OKC Arena into the Thunderdome on Sunday

by Jenni Carlson Published: May 14, 2011
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Your mission is clear, Thunder fans.

Bring it.

The Oklahoma City Arena has to rock Sunday afternoon like it's never rocked before. It has to be louder than when the Thunder clinched that first-round playoff series against the Nuggets. It has to be more raucous than when the Lakers came to town in the playoffs a year ago.

It has to be Thunderdome.

Listen, you have already built Oklahoma City's reputation as one of the toughest places in the NBA for visitors. Mistakes snowball. Communication deteriorates. Teams get rattled by the intensity in the building.

But help your team to victory in a Game 7, Thunder fans, and your reputation will go through the roof.

There's nothing quite what we're about to see between the Thunder and the Grizzlies. A two-week-long, back-and-forth series coming down to one last game? This is unique in all of sports.

Sure, the NCAA Tournament has that one-and-done aspect and the Super Bowl has that everyone-around-the-globe-is-watching factor, but Game 7 rolls up all of that with the animosity and the familiarity that has built throughout a series.

It's grand theater.

Think of some of the great Game 7 performances that have happened on home court.

Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant led the Lakers back from a 15-point, fourth-quarter deficit and beat the Trail Blazers in the 2000 Western Conference Finals. The Kobe-to-Shaq alley-oop dunk late in that game is a classic.

Larry Bird scored 20 points in the fourth quarter and the Celtics escaped the Hawks in the 1988 Eastern Conference semifinals. Bird's duel with Dominque Wilkins is one of the greatest you'll ever see.

The players won those games, of course, but watch the YouTube highlights, and there's no doubt that those teams rode the momentum of their fans. The Boston Garden faithful were going berserk. The Hollywood types in La La Land were on their feet throughout the fourth quarter.

Think the Thunder could use similar support Sunday after letting one slip away in Memphis on Friday?

A couple quick tips:

Be proactive. Don't wait for the scoreboard or the PA announcer to tell you what do to.


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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