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.
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.
Do you change up the routine at all?
Sometimes, I'll change my whooping noise. Sometimes, I might just start with a “Miss it!” If I have a history with a player, if they've missed before or they've shown frustration before, then I'll go right at 'em.
Sounds like you keep track of your victims.
I do. One of my favorite things to do is rip my shirt off, but I started burning through so many shirts so fast, I've kind of got to cool that off.
So, on a nationally televised game when you get on the broadcast, do the texts and calls come from all over?
Oh, yeah. It's great. When I was in middle school and I was still really into playing basketball, I always said, “One day, I'll make a half-court shot or something, and I'll be on ESPN.” Well, that never happened. But I got on ESPN for being crazy and being half naked. Either way, I got on there and accomplished a dream.
You mention your shirtlessness. How do you decide what you're going to paint on your chest each game?
I get really good suggestions from friends and fans. My friend Ernie gave me a really good suggestion for my Shaq and Charles pasties. That got me on the TNT postgame show. Now, Shaq has put me on his “Shaqtin' A Fool” episodes twice now. I haven't been able to win because there's some really goofy fools in the NBA.
No doubt about that.
I want to do a free throw contest (with Shaq) — 10 free throws each and we can distract each other. If I make more than him, then he has to donate some money to charity. If he makes more than me, then he can pick my paint job for the next game.
So, for this game against Miami, describe your getup.
I've got a Dwyane Wade pastie. Then, I've got a Chris Bosh pastie. But LeBron's not forgotten. LeBron ...
A picture cutout with Velcro?
He's going ...
On the Velcro on the back of your shorts?
The only problem is the Velcro's not sticking so well, so I have emergency double-sided sticky tape. He will get on there one way or another.
Big picture — what does it mean for you to be part of the scene at The Peake?
To be part of this arena is wonderful. To be one of the well-known ultimate fans in the arena, that's even better. I know that we bring it every game. No matter who we're playing, no matter what's going on, we're always the loudest in the NBA. If I can be the loudest of the loud, then that's even better.
You talk about being the loudest of the loud. How many weird looks to you get for all of this?
I get really strange looks. But once they see me and know I'm coming down there every time, they'll have their camera phones ready. They'll video record me. They'll take pictures. I found some videos of me on YouTube. I'm just another part of the entertainment that the Thunder offer.