Before games, she drinks hot tea to loosen up her vocal cords. During games, she always has cough drops in her purse in case she needs a little pick me up. And even though Westbrook’s drive-the-lane, take-the-contact style means he shoots free throws often, Clark’s voice has never failed her.
She waits until the crowd dies down, waits until the announcer says “Russell Westbrook at the line”, waits until the referee tosses Westbrook the ball, then cuts loose.
“I try to sustain it out for a little while,” Clark said.
“People around us think that I know him,” she said. “I’ve never met him. Probably never will.”
But if she could, she’d ask whether he was OK with her yelling before his free throws. She doesn’t want to be a bother, and if he said he didn’t want her to yell, she’d abide by his wishes.
Though there’s evidence that Westbrook is fine with it. Earlier this season during the game against Toronto, players were mulling around midcourt as they headed back onto the floor at the end of a timeout. Knowing the yell came from the sections behind the scorer’s table, he asked folks who it was. They turned and pointed toward Clark.
Clark’s husband nudged her and motioned toward the court. She looked, and Westbrook was staring right at her.
When their glances met, he smiled and slapped the scorer’s table.
A stamp of approval, it seemed.
Clark, who works in the accounting department at Grace Living Centers, still marvels at how far things have come. Like Thundor wearing his Mexican wrestling mask and yelling at opponents with his megaphone or that cute elderly couple smooching at the end of the Kiss Cam, her “Russellllllllll!” has become part of the fabric of Thunder games.
Clark’s as loud as anyone.
“I just cannot believe I do this in front of 18,000 people,” she said. “I can’t believe I stand up and do that.”
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.