Welcome Home Party
By Michael Kinney, Special Correspondent
It has become a standing tradition in Oklahoma City. Ever since the Thunder made its first postseason run back in 2010, fans have met the team at the airport when they return from a road playoff games.
It’s not just when they win, they show up when they lose too. It’s not even just the final game of the team’s season.
Rain or shine, first round or NBA finals, Thunder fans show up and greet the team with cheers, screams and unbounded enthusiasm.
That included the early hours of Wednesday morning after Oklahoma City defeated San Antonio 95-91 in Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals. The win gave Oklahoma City a 3-2 lead in the series and a chance to close it Thursday at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Game 6.
An estimated 500 fans were on hand to meet the players, who soaked in every moment of the walk to the waiting vehicles.
Anthony Morrow posted a video of the madness to his a social media account in which the assembled crowd sounded like a mini-version of the Chesapeake.
“We are really lit out here,” Morrow said on the video. “We are lit out here.”
The Storm Chasers were on hand to keep the crowd pumped up after midnight. Food was brought in from Falcone’s Pizza and music was played loudly.
Even Kevin Durant, who has seen it all in his years with the franchise, is still impressed with the welcome home greetings he and his team receive.
“I can’t speak on other organizations and what they do with their fan base, which I’m sure are great,” Durant said, “but it’s something I never even thought about when you want to be an NBA player, how dedicated the fans are. What you mean to the city. In college, it’s been there for 30, 40 50 years. But here, a new franchise, they embraced us from the beginning. Just to see that. I think I saw on Twitter, win or lose, they were going to be there. It shows how dedicated and how passionate they are about basketball. It’s just grateful to have people who care about you so much.”
On a video Durant posted to Twitter he said “Shout out to all our fans here supporting us. One more game baby. We have to win one more.”
The Thunder know that one more victory will be the toughest of the series to get. The veteran and proud Spurs are not expected to just roll over and let the Thunder kick them out of the playoffs.
“Close out games are the hardest,” Enes Kanter said. “All be we can do is worry about us. Just give everything we have.”