Thunder notebook: TNT adds to Thunder's challenge

Former Sacramento Kings great Chris Webber introduced to sellout crowd between the first and second quarters.
BY JOHN ROHDE, Staff Writer, jrohde@opubco.com Published: February 9, 2012
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Not only did OKC face a raucous crowd Thursday night at Power Balance Pavilion, the Thunder also had to endure a TNT sideshow.

That the Thunder's game at Sacramento would be nationally televised raised a few eyebrows when the schedule was first released, but a likely explanation came when TNT analyst and former Kings great Chris Webber was introduced to a sellout crowd between the first and second quarters.

Webber received a thunderous ovation and was presented a No. 4 black Kings jersey, which he promptly wore after repeatedly saluting the crowd. That was followed by video highlights of Webbers' playing days in Sacramento (1998-2005), which was followed by a video of him leading a “Go Sacramento” cheer.

The Thunder has quickly become one of the league's biggest drawing cards on the road.

The Kings have had three sellout crowds this season — the Los Angeles Lakers, the Chicago Bulls and the Thunder.

A gathering of 17,317 wore black T-shirts and snapped open their purple glow sticks during pre-game introductions. Fans were told they were about to be joined live on TNT, which wasn't true because the Lakers-Celtics actually was still in overtime.

KEEPING THE KINGS

In an effort to keep the Kings in town, Sacramento desperately is trying to secure funds for a new $387 million arena.

Having grown up nearby, Brooks has strong feelings about the Kings not leaving.

“Absolutely, I hope they do,” Brooks said. “Growing up in the Valley, you don't want to lose the Kings. They mean so much to the people, not only from this area, but from the area I grew up an hour away.”

During Thursday's morning shootaround, Thunder reserve Nick Collison was peppered with questions about when the Seattle SuperSonics relocated to OKC.

“I think the best thing a player can do is try to concentrate on basketball,” Collison said. “It is a little bit of a distraction. You'd like to have the future be a little clearer, I think. At the end of the day, as players we've got a pretty good job, it's to play ball for those two hours on the court. If you can focus on that, you're better off.”

As for the possibility of the NBA someday returning to Seattle, Collison said: “I understand this is a difficult situation for fans. Who knows? I had a great time in Seattle. I love the fans there and would like to see good things happen, but I also know that's probably a bad thing for someplace else. For me, I just let that play out for the businessmen, the politicians. Whatever happens is still going to happen.”

UP NEXT

OKC closes out its five-game road trip with a 9:30 p.m. contest Friday at Utah. The Thunder was scheduled to arrive in Salt Lake City around 2 a.m. Friday. OKC is off until it faces Utah again at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Chesapeake Energy Arena. The Thunder plays at Houston on Wednesday and then returns for a five-game homestand before All-Star Weekend.