Oklahoma City Thunder: How Oklahoma City became a haven of half-court shots

Three folks hit a half-court shot to win $20,000 last season, and all of them came last spring within a six-week period. Already this season, two more fans have followed suit and pushed the grand total since the NBA has been in town to eight.
by Jenni Carlson Published: December 14, 2013


photo - Justin Dougherty is greeted by Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant (35) after he made a 20,000 dollar half-court shot during the NBA basketball game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Portland Trail Blazers at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Sunday, March, 24, 2013. (AP Photo/The Oklahoman, Sarah Phipps)
Justin Dougherty is greeted by Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant (35) after he made a 20,000 dollar half-court shot during the NBA basketball game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Portland Trail Blazers at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Sunday, March, 24, 2013. (AP Photo/The Oklahoman, Sarah Phipps)

The NBA spliced together a video compilation of fans hitting half-court shots last season.

If not for Thunder fans, it would've been short.

Heck, if not for Thunder fans, the league might not have even bothered.

Three folks hit a half-court shot to win $20,000 last season, and all of them came last spring within a six-week period. Already this season, two more fans have followed suit and pushed the grand total since the NBA has been in town to eight.

Thunder fans have another chance Sunday night during the game against Orlando.

The NBA hardwood might be the dominion of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook and other super humans, but for a brief moment each game, mere mortals are allowed to take a shot. And every time a fan toes that line at The Peake, you expect it go in. That's the kind of hot streak Oklahoma City fans have been on.

In the last 28 home games — dating back to the first of the shots made last spring — Thunder fans are shooting 17.9 percent from half court.

How did this become such a half-court haven?

It starts with the selection.

There is no official place to sign up, no magic formula to follow to get picked for the MidFirst Bank Shot Contest. The fans who've won have been selected in both the concourse and the arena.

But there is a common denominator for a vast majority of them — they were picked more than an hour before tipoff, almost right after the doors opened.

Members of the Thunder's Storm Chasers group find fans for all the in-game promotions, and it figures that they'd want to get contestants lined up as early as possible. Don't want to have to mess with that as tip-off gets closer. Too many other things to worry about.

And while there's not a whole lot beyond arriving early that a fan can do to get picked for the half-court shot, it's pretty clear that the Thunder is on the lookout for a certain type of participant.

Thunder spokesman Dan Mahoney once told me that they want people who look like they would have fun with the contest and could make the half-court shot.

Yes, they want people who can hit it and win it.

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by Jenni Carlson
Columnist
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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