Will Thunder Fans Embrace This Team?
The bond between the Thunder and its fans runs more profound than the 11 years the organization has called Oklahoma City it's home. Each new Thunder player takes a tour of the National Memorial Museum to get a better understanding of the impact April 19th, 1995 had on this state. Tuesday night, the Thunder paid tribute to the 168 lives lost that day by presenting the families of the fallen with a special City Edition jersey that honors the memorial.
In most cases, when it comes to the love between team and city, it's the fans that do most of the embracing. In Oklahoma City, it's the opposite.
Sam Presti makes it a point to mention the obligation the Thunder has to Oklahoma in every press conference he's held since 2008. That attitude, along with having the second-best winning percentage in the NBA since 2008, has to lead to 389 consecutive home sellouts.
Despite the empty seats you'll see on TV, the sellout streak will stay intact through the end of the season. But, will fan interest?
Barry Tramel wrote in Oklahoman that with no Russell Westbrook, the Peake crowd has a hard time finding its usual volume that made Oklahoma City arguably the best home-court advantage in the NBA.
Barry's right, he usually is, but you can't blame Thunder faithful for not bringing they're a game every night. They are dealing with the reality of rebuilding despite Sam Presti's best efforts to prolong the myth the Thunder could compete for a championship after KevinDurant's departure.
But, if there is any roster that has best represented "The Oklahoma spirit," it's the 2019-2020 version of the Thunder. Oklahoma City is 3-4 this season, but those four losses have come by a combined 24 points. So far, the Thunder are in every game, and while they are still learning to play together, you won't see them going through the jaded motions which plague more veteran clubs. Danilo Gallinari and Chris Paul are on a layover till more desirable destinations come calling; Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Hamidou Diallo, and Darius Bazly could be building blocks for the future, but, they could be just guys. Fans want dynamic players whos jerseys they can wear as a source of pride. However, if this team shows it can be competitive every night, then the love that the Thunder are showing Oklahoma City will return in attendance and loudness.