What is happening to Loud City? I saw something during the fourth quarter of the Celtics game I have never seen before. I saw them again against the Knicks... empty seats during a winnable game... on a Friday night.
When did "Rise Together" combine with "and Walk Out on Your Team"? Especially when the Thunder need their fans the most? It is easy to cheer when a team is winning, but this town has earned a reputation for staying strong even when the chips are down.
Not turning its back on a 23 and 59 team was classy and very rare in this cynical old world. Chanting a player's name when he is in a shooting slump rather than booing him shows loyalty and now is definitely not the time to lose those qualities. Come on Loud City, the team is down, not out.... it's time to crank up the volume, not walk away.
I remember the excitement in 2005 when we learned that the New Orleans Hornets would play in Oklahoma City following Hurricane Katrina. I also remember how the media promoted the games. The headlines didn't say "Come Watch the Hornets" because the Hornets stunk the previous season. The selling point was an opportunity to see NBA stars like Kobe Bryant and Lebron James play live and the Ford Center sold out almost immediately and "Loud City" was born.
Then a funny thing happened. The Hornets improved after playing in front of a packed house every night and exceeded everyone's expectations. They even made the playoffs the year after they went home to New Orleans but Chris Paul has never wavered about how much his time in Oklahoma City helped his career.
Paul told NewsOK's Jenni Carlson in February that, "Preseason games were crazy, every game we played, I’ve never seen fan support like that" and added, "Nothing like it, nothing like it."
What happened? Is "Loud City" becoming "Spoiled Little Big League City"? Has something so special that an NBA superstar still remembers fondly been ruined by a few seasons of success?
When did standing ovations for losing a game the team should have won give way to beating the crowd to the parking lot when the team is behind? I made up my mind to write this post during the Knicks game when the Thunder were 10 points down with 3:46 left to play. I cannot not express how much sweeter writing this would be had Dion Waiter's buzzer beater fallen because, and I apologize if this comes across as harsh, but no one that walked out on the team Friday night deserved to see it.
I have had to wait seven years to see my first Thunder game in person. If everything goes as planned, I will be on hand when the Thunder take on the Los Angeles Lakers on December 19th. That is going to be great, but I am just as excited about being a part of Loud City for the first time as I am about the game itself.
I can hardly wait to hear super-fan Susan Clark yell, "COM'ON RUSSELLLL!", live for the first time. I want to see Thundor's big old body painted belly tormenting Kobe Bryant every time he steps to the free throw line. I want to feel the building shake after a Russell Westbrook to Kevin Durant alley-oop and I want Anthony Morrow to have a big night so I can add my signature "BOOM!!!" to the celebration every time he drains a 3 point shot. Make no mistake, I do not care if the Thunder are ahead by 20 or behind by 20, I will be destroying my voice from beginning to end.
That's right OKC, the "F-aniac" is coming to "the Peake" and I don't want to see Thunder players begging for support. I have been watching the love affair between the players and the Oklahoma City fans for a long time. When the fans don't give up, the team plays harder. This fan base helped lift a bunch of kids still wet behind the ears all the way to the NBA Finals. It would be a shame to quit on them now.
I admit it, I get a little bit crazier on game days than most and I am as disappointed as anyone that we lost the Knicks game, but I dearly wish I had been there. I am equally disappointed that the season has not been some fairy tale story thus far, but that pales in comparison to how much I hated seeing those empty seats. Please Loud City, don't let the Thunder down now and lose what makes Oklahoma City a unique place to play.