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The Oklahoma City Thunder's director of events works for the fans

John Leach, the Oklahoma City Thunder's director of events and entertainment, said, “Our fans were connected from day one.”
by Bryan Painter Published: September 24, 2012

“It's very important to know how to carry the energy and not let it die out much. You want to let it die out a little bit and then bring it back up, like you're stoking a fire.”

Say the Thunder goes on an 8-0 run after being down by six points. Now the team's up two and the opponents call a time out.

“As soon as they call that timeout, we're going into a song that carries a tempo that makes fans want to stand up and clap their hands,” said Leach, 42. “A lot of the old ‘tried and trues' are still what we use, like ‘Rock and Roll Part 2' or ‘Mony, Mony.' And we also mix in some of the current stuff like Sean Kingston's ‘Party All Night' and Usher's ‘More.'

“There are a lot of different songs. It just needs to be one that is kind of up-tempo that gets them to continue on with that emotion.”

Constantly planning

Although the responsibilities are many, each comes with a goal. So, the studying, preparing and planning is ongoing.

Take for instance that moment that comes as the lights go down just before the Thunder players are announced. They update that video eight to 10 times a season.

“Last year in the playoffs, we made a new video for every round,” he said.

Fan favorites

What about the halftime acts? There are the fan favorites that likely will be included each season, like the woman who rides the unicycle and flips the bowls onto her head, Leach said.

“Then we're always looking for new acts,” he said. “We feel like we've come up with a few new ones that would be good for this upcoming season.”

He said they'll continue to produce fun videos that highlight Rumble and other entertainers.

“Also, you'll also see new uniforms on the Thunder Girls,” Leach said, “and maybe a few other surprises that I can't mention yet.”

With so many aspects to consider, Leach was asked if he keeps a notebook by his bed in case he wakes during the night with a thought.

“I use my phone and if I come up with an idea or a song that I want to remember to use, I'll just email it to myself,” he said. “Sometimes I'll get to work and I'm like, ‘What's the meaning behind this?' and then I go, ‘Oh yeah.'”

Leach's staff includes 13 full-time and 100 part-time employees.

Although the work is ongoing, he said his job is made easier by the fact that the support of Thunder fans is never-ending.

Throughout the summer, Leach would be somewhere shopping and notice fans wearing Thunder gear.

“These fans stay connected year-round,” he said, “and I love that because obviously it makes my job easier.

“So, we have a lot of fun in what we do.”

by Bryan Painter
Assistant Local Editor
Bryan Painter, assistant local editor, has 31 years’ experience in journalism, including 22 years with the state's largest newspaper, The Oklahoman. In that time he has covered such events as the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah...
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