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Oklahoma City gets a harsh lesson in being a Big League City

Berry Tramel: The shootings in Bricktown show the bad that comes with the good of the Thunder’s NBA playoff run and the festive atmosphere of Thunder Alley.

BY BERRY TRAMEL Published: May 23, 2012
/articleid/3677902/1/pictures/1727839">Photo - Matt Westphalan, right, cheers with fans at Thunder Alley during the Oklahoma City’s first-round series against Dallas. Photo by Garett Fisbeck, For The Oklahoman
Matt Westphalan, right, cheers with fans at Thunder Alley during the Oklahoma City’s first-round series against Dallas. Photo by Garett Fisbeck, For The Oklahoman

Which is unfortunate. Truth is, we all felt civic pride at the celebrating crowds on Reno Avenue. TNT’s Craig Sager went outside for a live shot in the fourth quarter, and it only enhanced the feel-good story of this wild NBA ride.

Thunder Alley achieved its original purpose: give even more fans a chance to feel a part of the wave.

Our gal Jenni Carlson on Tuesday blogged about the shooting and received the following comment: “I really hope that the actions of a few fools do not cause the city to close Thunder Alley. My grandsons love going down there. Because I am on a fixed income and can’t afford tickets, they can still feel the excitement.”

Those grandsons are the losers if Thunder Alley dies.

In whatever form the street party survives, the city and the Thunder can take some action. More police presence, which always helps, and no liquor sales on the street. That’s a rough mix; thousands and thousands of people in a relatively small space, spiced with alcohol.

Still, the peace officers on the street Monday night didn’t think liquor was the problem. Just some punks showed up. Could have been the State Fair, could have been a music festival, could have been the mall.

Troublemakers follow the crowd.

See, that’s the real lesson we learned from Monday night. We wanted to be a big-league city? Well, this is what big-league cities go through.

Cities are more than corporate leaders and brilliantly skilled athletes and middle-class ticketbuyers and women looking for inexpensive ways to entertain their grandsons.

Cities also are made up of thugs. In small towns, you can pick out the troublemakers. Everybody knows them. Not so in the city.

That’s something else the NBA has done for us. Educated us. Those cops on the street Monday night/Tuesday morning? We chatted with several leaving the arena. All were composed. None seemed rattled. All seemed like they had gone through nights like this — shots ringing out, multiple victims — far too many times.

I think they knew something long before we did. Long before the Thunder came to town and the Lakers were vanquished.

This is the city.

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at

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On Page 1A

• Police make arrest in Bricktown shooting.

• Thunder Alley on the verge of elimination.


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