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.
But soon enough, the Blake Show slowed. Durant got hot, with 13 points in a 6�-minute stretch of the first quarter. And when Griffin found some foul trouble of his own, the rout was on.
By midway through the fourth quarter, with the Thunder up 22, the crowd felt relaxed enough to ooh and aah over a one-handed Griffin dunk off an alley-oop pass from Baron Davis.
Perfect. Give Griffin no ground when he's any kind of threat. But when the game's decided, bake him cookies and name your firstborn after him, who cares?
It most definitely was fun to see Griffin live again. A whirling dervish of an athletic freak, Griffin can't be fully appreciated off the Sony, high def or not.
Griffin had his normal monster game — 28 points, 11 rebounds, eight assists — and his value to the Clippers came through clearly in the second quarter.
Griffin was whistled for his third foul with the Thunder leading 46-44. A moment later, the Thunder embarked on a 15-0 run to end the first half and effectively put away the game.
Just what the Thunder needed to start an otherwise brutal week, road games at San Antonio and Orlando, before a home game against the Lakers on Sunday, when the building will be buzzing again.
And the main man of Oklahoma City will be wearing Thunder No. 35.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel