There’s always a buzz surrounding an NBA team on the brink of a new season. Thunder players said there’s even more of a buzz surrounding Oklahoma City’s new team.
Former Oklahoma State star Desmond Mason said public appearances, season tickets selling out in five days and a packed house downtown for the nickname unveiling are signs Oklahoma City fans are stoked about the season opener Wednesday night at the Ford Center.
"Everybody was really excited about the Hornets, but this has been a little over the top,” said Mason, who played during the Hornets two seasons in Oklahoma City. "You see Thunder shirts everywhere. It shows the passion people have for wanting an NBA team permanently in Oklahoma City.”
Since he’s 6-foot-10, Nick Collison said people stop him at the grocery store, the dry cleaners or a restaurant.
"I get asked a lot if I play for the new team,” Collison said. "I know the Hornets were here. But rarely do you get to play the first game (for an organization). People are really excited.”
Joe Smith, a 13-year veteran obtained in a trade this summer, has played for eight other NBA organizations.
"I’m kind of an ordinary guy and go to places like Target, Starbucks and Wal-Mart,” Smith said. "Everybody wants to know if I’m part of the new team. You don’t get that in most cities. It’s bigger here in Oklahoma City because a lot of cities have more than one pro team.”