NBA Finals: Miami fans in Oklahoma City catch anything but heat

Heat fans impressed with energy and respect they received from Thunder fans at Chesapeake Energy Arena and across the city.
BY ZEKE CAMPFIELD Staff Writer zcampfield@opubco.com Published: June 13, 2012

A smile gripped his face after a woman in line piped in — “Whatever!”

Perez and everyone else in line laughed as he backed away to the condiment counter.

“I'm just kidding,” he told the woman, holding up his hands. “Having a good time, having a good time.”

Ron Book, just a few rows up from courtside behind the Heat bench on Tuesday, also in red, said he, too, could verify there is something special about Thunder fans and the 'Peake. Book, a season-ticket holder from Miami, said he followed the Heat through its entire playoff run.

“They got here early, they were a good crowd outside before the game — it's an impressive crowd and they're a very respectful crowd,” Book said. “A much better crowd than we found in New York, in Indiana and in Boston.”

Another James jersey wearer, Drew Wolford, who drove in from Missouri with his girlfriend, Danielle Burns, reported the same.

“Even all the Thunder fans are giving me a high five, wanting it to be a good series,” he said. “I've only had one person flip me off.”

It's more than Thunder fans, though, that are rubbing off on Heat fans from Miami and elsewhere.

Stephen Pilkington of Jenks said he was impressed by the arena and surrounding renovations in downtown Oklahoma City. He said he's been a LeBron James fan since before Oklahoma had a professional basketball team — “I'm not trying to flip-flop,” he said — but that he does take some pride in what he witnessed Tuesday.

“You can tell that the fans here from Oklahoma City really love their team, and I can appreciate that as a Heat fan,” Pilkington said. “It's nice to see the environment they put forth and all the money the city is willing to pour into the team.”

Gasso said his positive Oklahoma experience extended beyond the game. Visits to the bombing memorial both after the game and again on Wednesday and then to the University of Oklahoma campus reminded him of the region's history and its soul.

“OU is famous for their football and their sports, and we've had so many spirited matches between OU and Miami back in the day,” he said. “That's just the kind of things we like to do. But now we're exhausted, so right now we're just going to take a power nap, just hang out and get ready for Thursday.”


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