“We keep practicing his reading and he keeps getting better and better each day,” Parker said, sounding eerily similar to coach Scott Brooks talking about his OKC team.
Although Angela Parker did not meet Rains until Sunday, he already occupied her heart. Suzanne Parker spoke so glowingly of Rains, he quickly became her daughter's inspiration — even as a complete stranger.
Angela Parker wanted to do something special for Rains on his birthday, so she put attending a Thunder game on his bucket list. Consider it a bucket-sized version of paying it forward.
Rains' fanaticism extends to the Thunder's broadcast team. Television play-by-play man Brian Davis stopped by to chat with Rains about 90 minutes before tipoff.
Davis: “First game?”
Davis: “Nice. You'll bring us some luck.”
Two minutes later, Durant — coaxed by no one — visited during his pregame warm-up session. “We appreciate that,” Durant said when informed Rains hadn't missed a game in Thunder history.
Durant signed a shirt and also signed the jersey Rains was wearing. A Westbrook jersey autographed by Durant. Rare indeed.
TV color analyst Grant Long later presented Rains with a No. 1 Thunder home jersey and also autographed the Westbrook jersey, as did Nick Collison.
It doesn't matter if the Thunder has a 9:40 p.m. start on a West Coast swing, Rains' eyes are riveted to the TV from beginning to end.
“Let's just say I watch the pregame through the after-game,” Rains said. “I don't turn the TV off until it's all over.”
On Sunday night, Rains experienced the Thunder as he never had before. And when Rains dictates to Suzanne Parker on Monday morning, his own words will far exceed those written here.