NEW YORK (AP) — Oklahoma City Thunder owner Clay Bennett began hearing from people around the NBA within minutes of Monday's tornado.
Commissioner David Stern and Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver called. So did fellow owners and colleagues, all asking what they could do to help.
Some made donations, but Bennett believes the organization had a responsibility to do even more for the fans that have been so welcoming since the team arrived five years ago.
"This community is all about family. It's all about supporting each other, and when things like this happen, we rally and we take care of each other," Bennett said in a phone interview. "The community's been so supportive of this team and we've had such an incredible connection with the citizens here and across the state, that we really feel that it's our absolute responsibility to do all we can to help."
Bennett has seen the way Oklahoma embraced his team when he moved it from Seattle to his home state in 2008, and he said watching some of those people suffer after the tornado devastated the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore made it feel "very close."
"This team connects with everyone," he said. "It connects with every demographic, every geographic part of the city and state. Race, religion across the board. The team and our guys have been completely accepted and when this happened, it just felt like family. Our fans, the people who support us, who embrace our team, our organization, and then to watch coverage and to see so many people wearing their Thunder shirts, it's very close."