Jake Keel of Mustang and Dalton Miller of Hinton are Thunder buddies. Not like actor Mark Wahlberg and his teddy bear, who in the movie “TED” cope with their fear of thunder by cuddling in bed during storms and singing an obscene “Thunder buddies” song.
But Keel and Miller have costumes that are takeoffs on the movie. They dress up in matching “Thunder buddy” T-shirts, wigs, caps and — in some cases — women's running shorts for Thunder games. They show up early in Thunder Alley hoping for a chance to win or buy upper-deck tickets in Loud City. “Worked for Game 1,” said Keel, looking like some combination of Thor, God of Thunder, and a flamboyant professional wrestler.
What do their friends and family think of their get-ups?
“Actually I'm wearing my girlfriend's shorts,” Miller said.
“My mother helped me make my cape,” said Keel. “The last game (my family) tried to act like they were embarrassed, but they actually like it.”
HARD CORE FOR HARDEN
Caroline Russell stood motionless with her homemade sign held above her head.
“Still love ya James” it read.
The 11-year-old arrived at the arena early in hopes that Thunder-standout-turned-Rocket-star James Harden would see her sign.
“I was mad that James Harden left the team,” she said.
A basketball player for her fifth-grade team at All Saints School, Caroline always liked Harden, but when a Metta World Peace elbow gave him a concussion, she felt bad for him. That took her fandom to a whole other level.
So, she decided to let Harden know how she felt about him with a sign made with the help of her dad, Pat, and mom, Kristin.
As Caroline held up her sign, Harden warmed up on the opposite end of the floor. An arena usher caught his eye and pointed him in the direction of the sign.
Caroline jumped up and down.
BEDLAM AT THE PEAKE
Former Oklahoma coach and current Houston assistant Kelvin Sampson was helping players warm up more than an hour before tipoff when he heard a familiar voice.
The voice: Bedlam rival Eddie Sutton.
The former Oklahoma State coach was in attendance with son Sean, who also coached the Cowboys.
FROM HOUSTON WITH LOVE
Their red shirts stood out in the sea of blue and white.
Rockets fans Royce Ballard, James DeCola and Joseph DeCola made the drive from Houston to Oklahoma City on Wednesday to cheer on their team.
“We thought they might need our help,” Joseph DeCola said.
The men, all of whom own Chick-fil-A franchises in Houston, bought their tickets for Game 2 before the series started and weren't deterred from attending after the Rockets' poor performance in Game 1.
They brought a minder, too. Jon Goolsby is an Oklahoma native who graduated from Edmond North High School and Oklahoma State. He was decked out in Thunder blue.
STAND UP, STAND OUT
Wearing the team-provided white T-shirt, Thomas Kirby blended in from the waist up.
From the waist down?
Not so much.
Kirby wore a pair of Loudmouth Golf brand pants that were blue, orange and white argyle patterned.
Interesting outfits are nothing new for Kirby. Last year during the playoffs, he and wife Amy wore matching fishing lure polos and red frame glasses after Russell Westbrook sported the look.
Oh, and good news about Kirby's argyle look. As the weather gets warmer during the playoffs, he's covered. He has shorts in the same pattern.
THROWING A CURVE BALL
David Aardsma, who has pitched in the majors for parts of seven seasons, took in Wednesday's game, watching from near the tunnel next to Houston's bench.
Aardsma pitched for Seattle in 2009 and 2010 and tweeted, “Every time a @okcthunder players scores I'm gonna yell out a cheer for a random Supersonics player #kemp #payton #Schrempf #wilkins.”
Aardsma is currently pitching for the Triple-A New Orleans Zephyrs, who start a series in Oklahoma City on Thursday night.
SEEN AND HEARD
*Three Oklahoma Sports Hall of Famers sat side by side in the lower bowl — former Oklahoma State basketball coach Eddie Sutton, former Oklahoma football coach Barry Switzer and former Sooner running back Joe Washington. Switzer tweeted a picture of the three of them before the game.
*The Peake was striped blue and white as blue and white T-shirts alternated from one section to the next. On the front of the shirts: a Thunder logo and the words “ESTABLISHED 2008”.
*When the arena Jumbotron promoted an upcoming Lil Wayne concert at The Peake, Thunder fans booed. The rapper had some less-than-nice things to say about Oklahoma City after being denied the playoff tickets he wanted last season.
BY RYAN ABER, JENNI CARLSON AND MIKE SHERMAN