Matt Rachamkin has never lived in Oklahoma. Connecticut was home for the first two-plus decades of his life — Stratford, then Norwalk, then Stamford — and now he lives in San Francisco.
But he loves the Thunder.
And it started with baseball.
Rachamkin was only 5 when the story of a father and son sharing the same outfield captured his imagination. It was the summer of 1989, and Ken Griffey Sr. was playing the outfield with his son Ken Griffey Jr. in Seattle. Even though Rachamkin was thousands of miles away on the other side of the country, the Mariners became his first team.
Two years later, he fell in love with the Mariners' basketball brethren in Seattle. Gary Payton was throwing under-handed ally-oops to Shawn Kemp, and Rachamkin ate it up. The Sonics became his basketball team.
You know the rest.
Or at least you know about the Sonics leaving Seattle.
Rachamkin might've found a different team when the franchise moved to Oklahoma City and became the Thunder, but his passion had been cemented when it drafted Durant.
Rachamkin had become a fan of Durant when he was still in high school in suburban Washington D.C. There was something about the way the kid shot and moved and carried himself. Rachamkin loved everything about him.
Then, Rachamkin's team drafted Durant.
It was kismet.
But the story gets better and the connection gets deeper.
One of Rachamkin's close friends has an in to the NBA Draft after-party, and he has invited Rachamkin to the shindig several times. Of course, in 2007, Rachamkin hoped to meet Durant and wanted him to sign a Texas jersey. But when he called the campus bookstore in Austin, he learned that replica No. 35 Texas jerseys didn't exist. Jerseys are produced before freshmen enroll, so there was no way to know for sure what number Durant was going to wear. The bookstore encouraged Rachamkin to call Nike.