OKC Thunder: How has playing at home changed for the Thunder since Year 1?

During the NBA team's first year in Oklahoma City, the Thunder were 15-26 at home. Since then, OKC has gone a combined 68-26 at home.
BY JOHN ROHDE, Staff Writer, jrohde@opubco.com Published: February 18, 2012
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Perhaps now is not the best time to ask, given the Thunder's current success, but think back to the team's first season in Oklahoma City.

The Thunder finished 23-59 overall and went 15-26 at home. The only good news was the team finished 20-30 after a 3-29 start.

NBA life has improved significantly for the home team since then. OKC has gone a combined 68-26 (.723) at home.

Heading into Sunday's 7 p.m. game against the Denver Nuggets (17-14) at Chesapeake Energy Arena, the Thunder (23-7) is 11-1 at home and every game has been a sellout.

OKC has won eight straight in the building, which is the franchise's longest home winning streak since 2004 at KeyArena in Seattle.

Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Nick Collison and Thabo Sefolosha are the only players who remain from the Thunder's original roster, with Sefolsoha arriving via trade for the final 23 games.

How has playing at home changed for the Thunder since the year of relocation?

Obviously, OKC is a much better team, but what were the players' emotions in the debut season? Were they nervous playing in front of the home crowd because they were trying so hard to please?

"Nervous? Nah. Never nervous," Westbrook said. "Our fans are always going to have our support. That's one thing about this city and this team, they always have our support regardless of what's going on. Never was I nervous at any point."

Collison cut to the chase.

"We just weren't a very good team," Collison said.

Considering the circumstances, Thunder coach Scott Brooks was just glad there were people in the stands.

"It was new for all parties — everybody involved — coaches, players and fans," Brooks said of being new to town. "We didn't really know what to expect. We were thankful they (fans) came out because they had a lot of reason to say, 'OK, this is not looking too good.' Definitely our guys wanted to please the fans."

For a college-crazed state, local fan support for not one but two NBA franchises has been remarkable.

For two seasons, OKC fans never once booed the displaced New Orleans Hornets when they were in town from 2005-07. The locals were so tickled to have an NBA team inside city limits, they wouldn't dare boo. Plus, it would have been in incredibly poor taste given the tragic circumstances surrounding Hurricane Katrina.

The locals have booed the Thunder once. It happened on Nov. 19, 2008, when the home team had just allowed a 42-12 run by the 1-9 Los Angeles Clippers, who were nothing like the current Clippers. The booing lasted roughly 5-10 seconds before it quickly faded out when fans seemed genuinely ashamed for doing so.

"We probably deserved it," Collison said.

Two days later, the Thunder was 1-12 and Brooks replaced P.J. Carlesimo as coach.

Thunder employees have consistently delivered public-relations answers since their arrival, but words flow freely when discussing the home crowd.



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