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Thou shalt not act out: Clergy share their advice to Thunder players and fans

by Carla Hinton Published: May 10, 2012

Someone pokes you in the eye, do you turn around and do the same thing right back to them?

If an athlete from an opposing team hurts your favorite player, seemingly intentionally, do you respond with off-color jeers and taunts?

Several Oklahoma City clergy recently shared their advice for the Oklahoma City Thunder players as well as their exuberant fans as the Thunder gets set to possibly contend with the Los Angeles Lakers in the second round of the NBA Playoffs. A series with the Lakers brings with it another round of competition with Metta World Peace, the Laker formerly known as Ron Artest, who several weeks ago elbowed Thunder star James Harden in the head, causing a concussion.

The question of what to say to the Thunder and their fans stymied one local pastor, who said he is very familiar with the raucous atmosphere at sporting events. He tweeted his need for insight on just what to say in this high-octane situation.

“Just asked by The Oklahoman to provide some thoughts on how Thunder fans should respond to Ron Artest coming to town next week. Need wisdom!” the Rev. Ben Brammer (@benbrammer) tweeted.

Thursday, Brammer said he received good-natured feedback from his Facebook friends and Twitter followers who offered him their advice for the Thunder.

“Somebody said ‘I believe we all need world peace' and someone said ‘We should all wear helmets and flash the peace sign' and then somebody said ‘Just win,'” Brammer said. He said another person advised “Keep it classy, OKC.”

Brammer said he asked for insight because he wanted to say the right thing in the appropriate context.

“I wanted to temper my thoughts,” he said. “Metta World Peace, he's come a long way but changing our name doesn't change our hearts.”

Meanwhile, Scott Davidson, chairman of Oklahoma City University's philosophy department, said the playoff situation can be turned into a life lesson.

“It seems to me that it's a problem we experience in all facets of our lives,” Davidson said. “What to do with bad actors — people who display bad behavior. Do we ignore it and try to rise above it or do we get dragged into it and try to respond?”

Davidson said the Thunder has fostered an image of being a team that is very professional in their conduct and very clean “so they have a positive image.”

He said the focus should be on the positive, like the stellar play of Thunder stars like Harden, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, and not the negative like Artest, aka Metta World Peace.

“If we respond negatively, we let Ron Artest lower us. If you focus on him, you're going to lose. We've got to focus on the positive”

Davidson said it's important to note that people, particularly children, will be watching Thunder players and fans.

“It's OK to be angry about Ron Artest but we don't need to do the same thing he did. Kids see how we respond and they form opinions based on us.”

Here's what the clergy had to say:

Rev. Terry Bates, senior pastor of Faith Church, formerly known as Faith Tabernacle: Number one, it's one thing for the Lakers to get into your face, just don't let them get into your head! Number two, don't let what happens to you, happen in you! (You determine the PEACE within!).

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by Carla Hinton
Religion Editor
Carla Hinton, an Oklahoma City native, joined The Oklahoman in 1986 as a National Society of Newspaper Editors minority intern. She began reporting full-time for The Oklahoman two years later and has served as a beat writer covering a wide...
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