OKC Thunder: Superfan Thundor dreams of a showdown with Shaquille O'Neal
Jenni Carlson talks with the man behind the mask, Garrett Haviland. Haviland tells the story of how he came to bring a megaphone to games, and discusses his idea for a free-throw contest with Shaq.
No fans in the NBA are livelier than Thunder fans.
And no Thunder fan personifies that more than Garrett Haviland.
You know him better as the rotund shirtless guy with the painted belly, the Mexican wrestler's mask and the megaphone. He stands behind the north basket and makes life miserable for opposing free-throw shooters.
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During nationally televised games, the man who calls himself “Thundor” gets tons of airtime and becomes the face of the craziness at The Peake.
How did “Thundor” come about?
I have always been a big fan of basketball. When I was in elementary school, I collected thousands of trading cards and basketball was my favorite, but since Oklahoma didn't have a team, I focused more on favorite players like Jordan, Barkley, Reggie Miller. When the Thunder finally arrived, I couldn't have been more excited. I saw an ad in the Game Night magazine for the Love's Ultimate Fan Contest, and having just bought a luchador costume for Halloween, I had the perfect idea. By the next home game, “Thundor” was created.
When you're not “Thundor,” who's the man behind the mask?
Despite my ridiculous appearance, I actually have a very serious and stressful job as a program manager for Sequoyah Enterprises and Residential Facilities, a ... girls group home. I oversee the program that houses 32 troubled teenage girls. I have worked there for almost five years. I started straight out of college. I graduated from USAO in 2007 with two degrees one in communication and one in psychology.
Do Thunder games, then, become your outlet?
Without this, I would go crazy being on call 24-7, 365 days a year. Without this release, I wouldn't have a coping skill of my own.
This gives you a chance to take a deep breath?
Absolutely. The girls ... they get real excited if I go on the unit and I show them what my paint is before the game. Some of the girls, I'll ask them, “Show me a dance move. First free throw miss ... that'll be my first dance of the night.”
How did the whole megaphone thing come about when opponents are shooting free throws?
I was getting ready for the game ... when I saw my friend Miguel Herrera's megaphone sitting on the dining room table. I asked if I could use that for my character. During the game, Chris Kaman kept getting to the line and he was killing us, so I decided to put the megaphone to use. I went down there, and he missed, so I continued to do it for the remainder of the game and he got more and more frustrated. I figured if I can distract the opposing free throw shooters then I might help make the difference in a game. I make sure to always keep it rated PG and focus more on goofy fat-guy dance moves to distract the players.
Do you have a routine during free throws?
Typically, I making a whooping sound followed by encouragement for the player to miss. If I can get the player to make eye contact, that's when the dancing starts. If a player misses, I will also do a little victory dance.