Thunder always gets support from the bench

The Oklahoma City Thunder bench is the best in the NBA in terms of enthusiasm, support and entertainment value, John Rohde writes. The bench headliner is veteran guard Nate Robinson, who was acquired in the Kendrick Perkins trade.
By John Rohde, Staff Writer, jrohde@opubco.com Published: April 12, 2011

Thunder coach Scott Brooks admits he'll occasionally glance out of the corner of his eye and wonder what the heck his team is doing.

Not on the court, but on the bench.

“Half the time they're in front of me and I can't see the game,” Brooks jokes.

During Wednesday night's regular-season finale against Milwaukee inside Oklahoma City Arena, sneak a peek at the Thunder bench. What transpires is impossible to ignore.

In terms of enthusiasm, support and entertainment value, OKC has the best bench in the NBA. It might not even be close. No team in the league celebrates each other's success more than Thunder players.

They give standing ovations for darn near every point a teammate scores. Whether you're in uniform or street clothes, if you're on the Thunder bench, you're part of the party.

Every timeout, those who are playing are greeted halfway to the bench by those who are not.

When starters are told to take a seat, they don't actually sit. Thunder substitutes are cheered by a pair of All-Stars in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, even a scowling Kendrick Perkins.

“It can't be just one way,” Brooks said. “You can't have the bench support the starters and not have the starters support the bench. That's what makes this a good team. I like the camaraderie we have. It's genuine.”

Though some of the Thunder's celebratory skits might be rehearsed privately, nothing is contrived. There is no huddle before the opening tip where the bench leader says, “OK, guys. Let's be sure to support our teammates.”

This youthful enthusiasm displayed by the NBA's third-youngest roster is au naturel.

“We just want to see everybody do well,” reserve guard Eric Maynor said. “We're a team. Period.

The bench headliner is 5-foot-9, 180-pound Nate Robinson, a reserve guard acquired in a trade with Boston on Feb. 24.

Teammates shake their heads while trying to explain Robinson's various gyrations.

“I'm confused at what he's doing,” Brooks said. “I know his 3-point routine. I haven't figured out all the other stuff he's done after makes and dunks and great passes.”



Bucks at Thunder

When: 7 p.m. Wednesday

Where: Oklahoma City Arena

TV: FS Oklahoma (Cox 37, HD Ch. 722)

Radio: WWLS 98.1-FM, WWLS 640-AM

THREE THINGS TO KNOW

- Former Oklahoma coach Kelvin Sampson is a Milwaukee assistant and has been rumored as a candidate to become head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves.

- Serge Ibaka, who leads the NBA in total blocks (195) and is third in blocks per game (2.41), needs 14 points tonight to finish with a double-digit scoring average.

- Blocked-shot leader Andrew Bogut (2.58) missed 17 games this season and is out with an elbow injury. Drew Gooden had his first career triple-double Saturday.

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