Pre-game ceremonies get crowd fired up for Thunder opener

BY MIKE BALDWIN Modified: October 30, 2008 at 7:51 am •  Published: October 29, 2008
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photo - Jimmy Jones, of Anadarko, gets his face painted outside the Ford Center in downtown Oklahoma City on Wednesday, October 29, 2008. By John Clanton, The Oklahoman
Jimmy Jones, of Anadarko, gets his face painted outside the Ford Center in downtown Oklahoma City on Wednesday, October 29, 2008. By John Clanton, The Oklahoman
Oklahoma City mayor Mick Cornett encapsulated the first game in Thunder franchise history during pre-game ceremonies.

“This is really special,” Cornett said. “I sense you know how I feel because you feel it, too.”

The game was so special that season ticket holders received 4-by-10-inch commemorative hologram tickets as keepsakes. Thunder guard John Lucas kept a ticket for himself and planned to have teammates sign it, then frame it.

“Tonight shows you how crazy it's going to be here,” Lucas said. “Opening night with the Houston Rockets was just a regular ticket. Just to be a part of this night is special. This was history being made. It's great for the city and the state of Oklahoma. Now you don't just have OU or OSU.”

A sellout crowd, many wearing sky blue Thunder T-shirts given to every fan in attendance, was greeted by NBA commissioner David Stern, who welcomed Oklahoma City to the NBA.

The day began with an afternoon block party in “Thunder Alley” on Reno between the Ford Center and the Cox Convention Center. Live music, face painting, magicians, BMX stunt riders and a balloon artist entertained the crowd.

Fans all afternoon could walk up and sign a 6- by 10-foot banner that was brought into the arena. Brian and Shonia Hall, from Norman, have three season tickets.

They picked up Brian, 9, from elementary school and headed straight downtown, arriving at 2:45 p.

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