Local Laker fans like the Thunder — until now

Oklahoma natives started following the Lakers long before the Thunder arrived. But changing colors after all of these years is hard to do for Andre Mink, Terrell Howard and Dwayne Gipson.
by Jenni Carlson Modified: May 14, 2012 at 10:34 am •  Published: May 13, 2012

But since the 1980s, he's been a Lakers fan. He always loved basketball, and he fell in love with Los Angeles during the days of Magic and Kareem, Cooper and Worthy.

“Show Time,” Mink said.

Contrary to popular belief, every Lakers fan did not hop on board the purple-and-gold express when Kobe Bryant landed in L.A.

Not Mink.

Not Terrell Howard or Dwayne Gipson, either. Like Mink, both are natives of the metro area and current Oklahoma City residents.

“My dad was a Laker fan, so I was born into it,” the thirty-something Howard said. “When the Lakers were on, I was watching them with my dad.”

Gipson traces his Laker love back to the late 70s and Magic Johnson.

“I followed him in college, then when he got drafted by the Lakers, I followed him there,” Gipson said.

Remember, these men became Laker fans at a time when the Thunder wasn't even a glimmer in Oklahoma City's eye. Heck, back then, there weren't all that many options around. Dallas didn't get a team until 1980. San Antonio and Houston weren't great. Ditto for the Kansas City Kings, who soon moved to Sacramento.

If you wanted to cheer a fun team, an exciting team, you had to look outside the region.

Add the power of TV — the Oklahoma City market sometimes got late-night, tape-delayed Lakers games back then — and it's easy to see why some folks took to the Lakers.

So, why didn't they take to the Thunder when the team came to town four years ago?

“Some of us already had a team, and we're loyal,” Mink said. “To me, it's kind of like you have a girlfriend that you've been with 25 years and this new fine girl comes to town. She looks good. But you just can't leave your girlfriend.”

Mink knows he's in the minority as long as this playoff series last. But that isn't going to stop him from loving his Lakers.

He knows there are others here who feel the same way. They've snapped photos of his car while driving down the highway. They've approached him at the mall and the store and asked about it. They've followed him home, knocked on his door and asked if they could take a picture with it.

“I get a lot of negative reactions from Thunder fans; that's understandable,” he said. “I love to see them love their team.”

But he loves his team, too.

“I do like the Thunder ... ,” said Mink, echoing a sentiment from Howard and Gipson, “but when they play the Lakers, that's when we have a great divide.”

Sounds like the Thunder Bandwagon is about to have some purple-and-gold company on the road through the playoffs.

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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