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Thunder half-time report: So far, so good

BY MIKE BALDWIN Modified: January 21, 2009 at 3:56 pm •  Published: January 19, 2009

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Thunder fans have shown they're loyal, even if their new NBA team started the season 2-24 and reached the halfway point with a league-worst 8-33 record.

Bolstered by eight sellouts, fans have purchased 97.2 percent of tickets available in the 19,136-seat Ford Center. That averages out to 535 tickets below capacity through 23 home games.

After interviewing dozens of fans the past two weeks, the consensus is:

  • Scott Brooks has a higher approval rating than any U.S. President ever experienced.

  • Most fans are patient, knowing a young team would have a lot of losses this season.

  • General manager Sam Presti's meticulous approach to building a roster is a good plan.

  • Fans are ecstatic to have their own NBA team after adopting the Hornets for two years.

  • Players involvement in the community is a big plus for Oklahoma City.

  • Seats in the Ford Center will be filled for years to come, solidifying the team's future.

    One area where fans disagree is how long it will take before the Ford Center hosts NBA playoff games.

    The majority believes “contending” for the playoffs is a reasonable goal in two seasons. A few believe it could happen as soon as next season. Others say it will take three or four more years.

    John Williams, 47

    Oklahoma City

    (season tickets — section 110)

    “The atmosphere has really improved. The whole product is getting a lot better. It's a fun time. You expected them to lose a lot of games this first year, but you can see a lot of improvement under (Scott) Brooks. They're competitive. That's the big thing. If games were 47 minutes long, we'd have at least four more wins. I really like the team they're putting on the floor with (Nenad) Krstic, but the playoffs are probably at least two or three years down the line.”

    Kim Lanier, 53


    (season tickets — section 319)

    “They're entertaining. The game is what I come to see no matter who is on the floor. Every time you go to a game you see some of the best 500 players in the world. How can you go wrong with that? Sure, you'd like to see a few more familiar names. The record can't get much worse, but this team has a lot of upside. I like what they're doing. I'm glad it's not me that has to make the decisions (on trades and draft picks). They know so much more than the average fan. For us to second guess them would be ridiculous.”

    Kenneth Jackson, 39

    Oklahoma City

    (only one game but a big fan)

    “What I like most is they've been involved in the community and have gotten involved with the inner-city schools. I like about everything they've done. I really don't think they need to trade anybody at this point. They say (Chris) Wilcox and (Earl) Watson are on the trading block, but I like both of them. We need veterans to train the young guys about the NBA, someone to teach them. I really like what I've seen as of late. I'd say next year they could make a run at the playoffs.”

    John Frizzell, 69

    Oklahoma City

    (season tickets — section 305)

    “Things have gone real well since we had a change in the coaching staff. They're much more aggressive, and they don't fall on their face in the second half. I like all the moves they've made. Since they brought in the new guy (Nenad Krstic), you can see the improvement. They're young right now, but the next year or two, there's going to be a lot of free agents. You'd love to see them win every game, but you have to build. We're not like (George) Steinbrenner to where we have the money to start at the top.”

    Mike Dumont, 39


    (season tickets — section 310)

    “They're progressing. They just traded for (Nenad Krstic) that is helping give us more of a presence at center. They're making the right moves. It's going to be a slow process. It's not hard to root for them because they make it a lot of fun to come to games.


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