Thank God For Hometowns

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Ooooooooooookkkkkkklahoma, where the wind come sweeping down the plain.  And the Thunder come sweeping through the nation.  I mean, it's just so exciting. Everywhere I turn in New York lately, someone is asking me about the Thunder or Oklahoma City.  I was riding home on the subway the other day and overheard a conversation between a group of guys about how great Kevin Durant and the Thunder were this season.  They have, pretty much, taken the country by storm.  Thunderstorm, that is.  

I've never been a professional sports fan.  I grew up in Oklahoma, where the Friday night lights of high school gridiron and Saturday college football defined life.  Big 12 country is college town after college town.  We love college sports.  But something happened when Oklahoma City got it's first professional basketball team.  That NBA team became a college team, and the Thunder fans claim Oklahoma City just as much as they claim the Thunder team.  Because we're that kind of town.  We believe in our people.

Here's The Chief and I at one of last year's playoff games...

And BFF Steph and I with Rumble, the Thunder mascot.  He is just pretty much the coolest person I've ever met.  And I've met some people.

There's been a lot of talk about my hometown lately, good and bad.  Lots of stereotypes from New Yorkers who have never been west of the Mississippi or south of the Mason Dixon Line (where is that, by the way?).  No, I didn't ride a horse to school.  I've never slept in a teepee.  I have no knowledge of proper farming procedures or livestock.  I grew up in a city with over one million residents.  But it's still a small town.  And it's about more than basketball.  It's about what happens to Oklahoma City when the whole world is watching. 

Because the last time the whole world was watching, our city looked a little different.  A little darker.  A little sadder.  And no, the Thunder didn't change Oklahoma City, because our city had already been changed.  But that day 17 years ago didn't break Oklahoma showed the world the strength and faith of what it means to be an Okie.  Because we are proud to be Okies.  And those "Team is Family" shirts everyone at the Thunder finals game is sporting tonight?  It's because Oklahoma is family.

I ran across a couple of great OKC articles worth sharing, clearly written by authors who get what we're all about.  Good stuff people...

"They want people to see it. They want outsiders to understand what happened here, how it changed the lives of everyone that day and every day going forward. Every time Oklahoma City general manager Sam Presti acquires a new player, he has them visit the memorial. It's the only way to fully comprehend the horror of what happened. You never really recover from losing 168 locals, including 19 children, as well as just about an entire block of your downtown. You never stop thinking about how unfair life can be sometimes, how one lunatic shouldn't be able to carry that much sway. Presti wants incoming players to understand the stakes. You just joined an especially close-knit community that's bonded forever by a horrific tragedy. This is like nowhere else you have ever played. You have to understand why they're wired this way. He encourages them to glance around the stands during their first home game, to remember that every one of the 18,000 fans was probably affected by the bombing in some way." 

"It is impossible to fully understand the Oklahoma City passion and civic glue that Finals watchers will note, without understanding the echoes from that day."

And so we celebrate and Thunder Up and cheer like we've never cheered before.  Because it's about more than just basketball.  

So thank God for hometowns...

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