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Oklahoma City handles Blake Griffin's homecoming perfectly

Berry Tramel: The Thunder didn't let the former OU star keep them from winning on its home court.
by Berry Tramel Published: February 22, 2011

The building buzzed with Oklahoma City pride Tuesday night.

Sitting courtside were Sam Bradford, who might prove to the best football player ever produced in OKC, and Joe Carter, as good a choice as any for greatest baseball player in city history.

They joined 18,201 other fans to see Blake Griffin, the best basketball player to ever come out of Oklahoma City. Living history, that's what this was.

You knew this night was different when Griffin received a mighty roar in the Los Angeles Clipper pregame introductions. Not an oh-my-lord-Kobe-Bryant-is-in-the-building roar. A we-love-you-Blake roar.

Then a funny thing happened. The love for Griffin stopped, rejected like a Serge Ibaka swat.

First Griffin basket: no cheer. First Griffin foul: cheer. First Griffin missed foul shot: cheer. A throng that a few minutes earlier had waved palm branches at their worshipped hero suddenly treated Griffin like some nondescript Minnesota Timberwolf.

Good for Oklahoma City. I'm proud of the crowd, which was no small reason the Thunder busted away from a monster Griffin start and waxed the Clippers 111-88 Tuesday night.

Boomtown handled this homecoming wonderfully. Great welcome for a favorite son, then absolute apathy. Griffin is the enemy now, trying to take playoff food from the Thunder table.

“You definitely sensed a lot of energy tonight,” Thunder coach Scotty Brooks said, and Kevin Durant agreed with him. Durant even started talking jibberish about Griffin.

“He's the man here,” Durant said. “He's still the man in Oklahoma City.”

Uh, not a chance. Mr. Humble is the man in OKC, and everyone downtown Tuesday night would agree. The Durantulas have this city's heart, and no one ever should have thought different.

Not that you could have blamed the crowd had it gone coo-coo over Griffin in the early going.

Griffin had 11 points and five rebounds in the first 5 1/2 minutes. He was treating the Thunder like he used to toy with Texas Tech. Griffin drew five fouls in the first seven-plus minutes, and you figured by game's end Brooks might be out of bodies to contain The Terminator.

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by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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