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Oklahoma City Thunder: Fan's half-court shot gives crowd, team a charge

The cheer was deafening when Larry Hill's shot found the bottom of the net. The buzz kept going as an already amped playoff crowd went to another level. The Thunder rode that wave, too, in its Game 1 win over the Rockets.
by Jenni Carlson Published: April 23, 2013

“I don't even remember what the giveaway was,” the coach said. “Probably Tastykakes.”

He chuckled.

“But always as a player, you're excited about the fans participating and being involved.”

Hill never imagined he'd be part of Sunday night's game like he was.

“Absolutely not,” he said. “Far from it.”

But when he and girlfriend, Niki Wright, arrived at The Peake for the game, they were approached by a member of the Storm Chasers, the Thunder's fan squad.

“Have you ever played basketball?” the Storm Chaser asked.

Hill played at Douglass High School.

“How would you guys like to be in a free-throw contest?” the Storm Chaser asked.

That's how contestants are pegged for the shot contest. There is no application table. There is no official process.

“It's just us being on the lookout for the right people,” Thunder spokesman Dan Mahoney said.

So, what makes for good contestants?

Mahoney said that they need to look like they'll have fun with the contest and like they could make the half-court shot.

Hey, the franchise knows what a boost it is to the building when someone hits that shot.

Hill discovered as much Sunday night.

“It was the best feeling you've ever had but 10 times better,” he said. “It was like a euphoric feeling. I just felt great. I couldn't believe it, but at the same time, I was like, ‘I just did it.'”

Crazy but true, Hill was attending his first NBA game on Sunday.

Not a bad intro, huh?

Get selected for an on-court contest, hit a half-court shot, win $20,000 and in some small way, help spur the Thunder to a convincing playoff win.

“If I did (help), power to the team,” Hill said. “I'm a team player.”

Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at (405) 475-4125. Like her at, follow her at or view her personality page at

by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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