As James Harden speaks at Friday's Thunder welcome party, a voice in the crowd yells, “I love you Harden.”
It is the voice of 7-year-old Lincoln Smith. He sits on his father Brian Smith's shoulders.
To his left, a sign featuring a small sombrero and a Brazilian flag under the words “Well Done! Thunder Pride” is raised.
The sign is held by Ana Monjes, a 26-year-old Thunder fan from Mexico. She is joined by two Brazilians, Patricia Paes and Ziza Pierce, and Smith, a native Oklahoman.
The group originates from different places, but is united in their love for the Thunder.
Pierce, 55, and Paes, 36, met through a group on Facebook called “Brasileiros em Oklahoma.” Pierce moved to Oklahoma 10 years ago from Brazil. She was at the first Thunder home game in 2008 and soon after adopted the team as her favorite. Paes moved to Oklahoma City in 2006. She had a Thunder-themed birthday party last year that featured a visit from Rumble, the Thunder mascot.
The Brazilian duo attends as many Thunder games as they can now and even made the trip to Dallas for the series against the Mavericks.
“We bring a little international flavor to the Thunder,” Pierce said, as she dances toward Paes and Monjes.
Brian Smith says he has some of that international flavor too. He has visited Brazil twice and wants to go back someday. Paes met her husband at a World Cup party that Smith, a DJ, had a few years ago, and since then they have bonded over their love for the country and the Thunder. Smith is a season-ticket holder in what he calls the “Poor DJ Section.”
“It's the top row, but that allows us to set our drinks on the ledge behind us and have a great time,” Smith said.
As the players exit the stage Pierce, Paes, and Smith join the thousands of fans in blue and orange in one last “O-K-C” chant to end a historic season.