Thunder fans spilled into the concourses, the stairs and the escalators, and yet, no one seemed to be in any hurry to leave the Ford Center.
They wanted to celebrate.
"Beat L.A.!" the chant went up.
Faster than Russell Westbrook driving to the basket, the entire stairwell echoed with sound.
Fans from the cheap seats mixed with fans from the suite seats.
The cross-section of people who joined that chant last Saturday night was as diverse as Oklahoma City itself. There were black and white, Hispanic and Asian, white-collar and middle-class, and they were all united, one Thunder Nation.
On the eve of Game 6 in a playoff series against the Lakers that has been all about home-court advantage, there is no doubt that this Thunder squad has done many fantastic things for the city and the state. Think of the increased national exposure and the significant economic impact.
Still, nothing the Thunder has done is more important than the way it is bringing folks together. It has made everyone feel like they're part of something grand. It has created a sense of community that is changing this city and this state.
Don't misunderstand. Folks here have always been a friendly bunch, a helpful lot. Yet, the Bedlam rivalry has long created tension. It's crimson vs. orange, Cowboy vs. Sooner, us vs. them.
That will never go away entirely, but it has been muted.
The Thunder has made folks feel united in a way that this state has never experienced. You could sense it in the late-game sing-a-long that broke out Saturday night at the Ford Center when they played "Sweet Caroline." You could hear it in the roar that went up when this team came out for warm-ups before the first two home playoff games. You could see it on the streets outside the arena after the home games.
Bricktown became a rolling block party Saturday night. Folks hung out of cars high-fiving pedestrians. Fans cheered. Horns blared.
A railing that runs along Reno Avenue between Rooster's and Starbucks became a prime location. Fans stood on that railing and were able high-five pedestrians on the sidewalk and motorists on the street.
One out-of-town visitor said Thunder fans were Red Sox like.
Talk about walking in some tall cotton. Still, the evidence of the Thunder's growing fandom is everywhere.
Hop in your car in Oklahoma City, and it won't be long before you see someone flying one of those Thunder car flags. The thing is, you're just as likely to spot one on a suped-up car rolling down NW 23rd Street as you are on a soccer-mom van streaking up Broadway Extension toward Edmond.
There's even virtual evidence of Thunder mania. On Twitter, more than a thousand folks have added a Thunder twibbon to their profile photo. That means a small Thunder logo now appears in the lower righthand corner of their picture.
The number of Thunder twibbons is double that of Cavaliers ones. Ditto for Spurs or Celtics.
Maybe it's the way the Thunder has responded this season after winning only 23 games a season ago. Perhaps it's the personality of the players or the youth of the franchise or the style of the game. Whatever the reason, this team is drawing people together.
Heck, Thunder fans are even being united by their sleep deprivation. The past four games in this playoff series have started no earlier than 8:30 p.m. Oklahoma time. That means games going until around midnight, and that means scores of bleary-eyed Oklahomans.
Jeremy Johnson is the student minister at First Baptist Church in Weatherford. After watching Saturday night's game on television — "I hooked the flat screen up outside ... and we sat around the fire pit, grilled burgers and watched the game" — he had to be at the church at 8 a.m.
His early-morning boost?
"Had two cups of coffee and a ham and cheese biscuit and prayed," he said. "Yes, Sunday morning was tough. But it was well worth it to watch the Thunder win."
Lanie James felt the same way. The Oklahoma City thirtysomething went to Saturday night's game, got home after midnight, then got up before 5 a.m. Sunday morning to run the half marathon in the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon.
What's more, she beat her half-marathon time of a year ago by 13 minutes.
"I don't know how I did it," she said. "I credit the energy of Oklahoma City that weekend. It was absolutely one of the most incredible weekends to be a part of."
Like Johnson and James, Maija and Rob Vogel are battling sleep deprivation, too, but they are doing so on separate continents.
Maija and Rob met in Oklahoma City eight years ago when he was visiting a family he'd lived with as a foreign exchange student. They married four years ago, made their home in the city and even bought season tickets for the Thunder. The arrangement had just one hang-up — Rob had started a business in his native Holland before he ever met Maija.
He still travels to Holland regularly to manage the business but refuses to miss a Thunder game.
"So, every night the Thunder plays, I put a chair in front of the TV with my Mac on it and wait for my Skype to ring," Maija said.
Her laptop sends a streaming picture of the TV broadcast via the Internet to his laptop.
"I'm sure if my neighbors looked in my windows," Maija said, "they would think I am a mental patient high-fiving the computer."
That makes late nights for her but even later ones for him. Those games that start at 8:30 p.m. in Oklahoma start at 3:30 a.m. in Holland.
But they are sacrificing for the Thunder just like thousands of other Oklahomans are. No one seems to mind it. No one seems to see it as a sacrifice really.
Folks want to be part of Thunder mania. This team has created a sense of community that is powerful. Unique. Special.
It's one more thing to celebrate.