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OKC Thunder players participate in annual Holiday Assist shopping spree

BY JOHN ROHDE Staff Writer Modified: December 17, 2010 at 8:33 am •  Published: December 16, 2010

The toy department was attacked with vigor, as were the sporting goods and electronics departments.

Only in a store so massive could shoppers actually lose sight of 6-foot-11, 245-pound rookie center Cole Aldrich and ask, "Where is he? I can't see him. I lost him."

Forward Serge Ibaka, who was raised on soccer in the Republic of Congo, impressively dribbled a soccer ball with both feet at the end of Aisle B42.

With a healthy number of store employees, Thunder staffers and volunteer security officers in the mix, the event was not the mob scene one might assume. A few shirts in the clothing department were accidentally knocked to the floor during a temporary logjam, then quickly picked up and returned to their proper place by All-Star Kevin Durant.

"Hey, this is a two-way street," Royal Ivey said while playing shopping cart traffic cop.

When the shopping was done, players posed for pictures with their groups.

Presti said the more frequently a player participates in a shopping spree, the more joy seems to come from it. Presti noted how veterans such as Nick Collison, Peterson and Ivey excel at the events, and spoke of how quickly young players like Russell Westbrook have embraced the concept.

"It is so gratifying to be a part of this," said a smiling Presti.