OKC Thunder: You may not know superfan Susan Clark, but you've certainly heard her

JENNI CARLSON COMMENTARY — If you regularly watch Thunder games, you’ve probably heard Susan Clark before. She’s the superfan that sits midcourt and yells “Come on, Russellllllllll!” “It surprises me everytime I do it,” Clark said.
by Jenni Carlson Published: February 27, 2014

Susan Clark is shy and soft-spoken — until Russell Westbrook toes the free-throw line.

Then, she rises out of her seat, takes a deep breath and belts out three words so loudly that people watching Thunder games on TV can often hear her.

“Come on, Russellllllllll!”

She does it before every free throw, does it when the normally rowdy home arena grows quiet, does it with such vigor that the Thunder point guard just had to know who she was.

“It surprises me every time I do it,” Clark said.

It’s been a little over a week since Westbrook came back after surgery No. 3 on that right knee. While his return was welcomed by Thunder fans everywhere, no one greeted him quite like Clark. She has been at The Peake for every game. Section 115. Six rows up. Seat on the aisle. Vocal cords warmed up and ready to go.

She was there even when he was sidelined, but it just wasn’t the same. Some folks told her that she should do her yell for other players while Westbrook was out. How about Kevin Durant? Or Serge Ibaka? Or Kendrick Perkins?

Clark couldn’t do it.

“It’s only for Russell,” she said.

The whole thing started almost five years ago. Clark and her husband, Gene, were Thunder season ticket holders from the beginning, snagging seats in the same lower-bowl section where they sat when the Hornets were in town. They hadn’t been NBA fans — the Oklahoma State Cowboys were their passion — but they took to the Hornets right away.

Same with the Thunder. The players quickly became beloved by the Clarks.

Then during the 2009-10 season, Westbrook became a lightning rod for criticism. He shot too much. He didn’t let Durant shoot enough. He played with a chip on his shoulder. He couldn’t possibly play alongside Durant for long.

Susan Clark didn’t understand it.

“I’m like, ‘Can you not see what an outstanding athlete this man is?’” she said.

One night when Westbrook was going to the free-throw line, Clark heard some grumbling in the arena.

She’d finally had enough.

“Come on, Russellllllllll!” she shouted.

That was the first time she did her yell, and it felt so good to show her support of Westbrook that she started doing it every time he went to the free-throw line.

There were plenty of people around her, though, who weren’t too keen on it. They gave her dirty looks. They shook their heads. They waved her off. One woman even turned around, snarled at her and said, “I really don’t think that helps.”

It sure hasn’t hurt. Westbrook has shot at least 80 percent from the free-throw line each of the past three seasons, and his percentage this season hovers around that mark again at 80.1.

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by Jenni Carlson
Columnist
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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