New Oklahoma City Thunder fans show team love

The Thunder's NBA Finals run attracted a new batch of team fanatics.
by Ken Raymond Published: June 24, 2012
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“This is a love letter,” the email began, “to the Oklahoma City Thunder.”

In the paragraphs that followed, the writer — an adult woman from Edmond — pledged her undying loyalty to the team.

The Thunder is all she talks about, she wrote; she pores over the sports section each day, absorbing every morsel of information about Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and their teammates. She even makes her family, hundreds of miles away, watch the games so they can share in her excitement.

It'd be sweet if it weren't for one thing: The writer is my wife.

For years now, I've tried to interest Amy in sports. It's been tough going. She'll watch Sooner football games with me; she likes it when the commentators echo my remarks. But is she a fan? No way.

All her life, she hasn't seen the appeal of athletics. She preferred to spend her time designing clothing, reading books, taking photographs and shopping. She favored Ralph Lauren over Ralph Sampson, Karl Lagerfeld over Karl Malone. Over the course of the abbreviated NBA season, though, she has transformed.

“I have the fervor of a new religious convert,” she wrote. “If I'm not talking about my four dogs, I'm talking about the Thunder. I may even be talking about the Thunder AND the dogs.”

Note my absence from her conversational priorities.

Amy works nights at the newspaper, so she sees each word of Darnell Mayberry's stories when they're fresh off the press. And she's brilliant, so every stat takes root in her mind, ready to emerge at any moment.

It's unsettling, almost as if this person I've known for so long has been replaced by a sports radio host. It's just something that shouldn't be.

At least I'm not the only one who feels this way.

Rebekah Mercer emailed me recently to discuss her newfound love of the Thunder.

When she posted a Facebook comment last week about hosting a Thunder watch party, her youngest son responded: “WHO ARE YOU? And what have you done with my mother?”

Her husband and other two sons were shocked, too.

“When I told my husband that I had been reading the sports page in The Oklahoman about the upcoming game,” she wrote, “he looked up at me in wide-eyed amazement. I have never followed sports of any kind in my life.”

Until now.

When the Western Conference finals tipped off, she plopped down on the couch beside her husband and caught a few minutes of the game.

“It didn't take me long to get wrapped up in watching this young team play their hearts out against the San Antonio Spurs,” wrote Mercer, 59, who moved to Oklahoma from Texas about four years ago.

“They lost that game (and the next one), but I kept watching because I was surprised and impressed when I saw an interview with Kevin Durant. ... Unlike many of the sports stars I've seen on TV (usually involved in some scandal), he seems to approach the game with an absolute lack of ego, which is refreshing.

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by Ken Raymond
Book Editor
Ken Raymond is the book editor. He joined The Oklahoman in 1999. He has won dozens of state, regional and national writing awards. Three times he has been named the state's "overall best" writer by the Society of Professional Journalists. In...
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