Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Opening Night in Big League City

Oklahoma City Thunder Inaugural Game
Click on the above link for pics of OKC's Ford Center

Updated 10/30/2008 to include Thunder Fan Board Pics

The 1-6 preseason schedule is now done — in and from that, a good bit of learning was had if not a glimpse of things to come this season.

The regular season Opening Night game vs. Milwaukee was played tonight, and lost 87-98 before 19,136 fans, deemed a sellout (in the last Hornets season here, 19,164 was a sellout, so the configuration must have slightly changed). The game was not as close as the final score — the Thunder was outscored 24-14 in the 1st quarter and it was catchup for the remainder of the game, even if the Thunder did have a good-but-no-cigar 4th quarter in which we outscored the Bucks 28-19.

But, I'm not complaining. Even though I'm predicting that the Thunder will exceed their lowly expectations, even if not by a lot, Okie Citians have been conditioned not to have high win-loss expectations by the national and local media, by the team's last season record, and, for sure, by our own eyes as we watched each of the preseason games on TV or in person — flashes of potential, yes, but expectations of a knock-out win-loss record this year, no.

Doesn't matter. Tonight's Opening Night game was the "real deal," the 1st regular season game that the Thunder play in Oklahoma City — at our Ford Center — and it was a night to remember. Due to the historicity of the event, I'll present more game photos in this post than I ordinarily will for particular games, and I'll give greater detail about the goings on than I will typically do.

Earlier, I'd gotten my over-sized embossed opening night tickets measuring 3 3/4" x 8", shown above. Additionally, I'd gotten my "booklets" containing season tickets for all other (40) home games this season, suitable for framing. Barring personal disaster, I'm expecting to attend each and every game.

My wife and I arrived at the Ford Center around 6:10 p.m., 50 minutes before the game was scheduled to begin. Reno Avenue, north of the Ford, was blocked off as usual and some activities were observed along the street, but, frankly, I didn't see anything picture-worthy ... the activities appeared to be not that much. So, we just went in, got our free T-shirts (given to all present), and looked around. I purchased the $10 Opening Night commemorative Inaugural Season Opener booklet, even though free game-day programs were readily available. Hey, this is history in the making, don't you know!

The commemorative booklet contains great pics
of Thunder team members and information about them.
It also contains several ads.
Doug Dawg was particularly taken by the one below.

Ahh ... to be young again! But, but, but ... back on track ...

The photos below were taken at about 6:15, first from the north end of the arena, and second, from the east side looking at the new floor's OKC Thunder logo ...

For all images below, click an any image for a larger view

Up the escalators to our seats in Section 311,
the arena floor looked like this ...

Time passing, the National Anthem was sung

Looking to the other side, half of the other
NBA team banners are seen — the other half's banners
were on our side of the floor

David Stern, NBA Commissioner,
was welcomed by Mayor Mick Cornett

The Commish was easier to see on the scoreboard video

The mayor extended a special thanks to Clay Bennett.
I didn't get a pic. The applause and cheers were loud and lasted long enough
so that Clay Bennett finally made an appearance on the floor.

Mayor Mick then pointed to the south end
and the OKC Thunder flag was unfurled.

Following introduction of the Bucks players (greeted by quietly polite applause), the Thunder team was introduced to fanfare and loud cheers, smoke, and pyrotechnics

The team huddled, surrounded by a horde
of carnivorous media camera people ...

The Drum Line, seen above,
would be featured later during the game
(shown out of sequence, below)

... and the game began

Finally (it seemed as though it would never happen)
at the end of the 1st quarter, the Thunder Girls made
their first appearance, dressed in coats

They stripped the coats and looked a whole lot better

At half-time, we were behind 35-50.
An exceptionally nice musical performance
occurred during that zone.

In the 2nd half, the Thunder did much better.
Better defense, better offense, better boards.

The Thunder Girls performed during the 2nd half.
From my vantage point the photos are not as sharp as I'd prefer.
A small flash file composed of 5 still shots also appears below:

Pics By My Friends at the Best Okc Thunder Fan Board. Lots of other pics taken by members of the best Thunder fan forum were taken, in this thread. Thanks to artbypaul, HornetGirl, and bbingham05 for their permission to use their stuff! Click on the images for larger views.

By artbypaul

Pics by HornetGirl

Josh The Eggman (larger not available)

Doug Dawgz in the middle

What A Shot of Desmond Mason's Slam Dunk!

Doug Dawgz Heaven

Pics by bbingham05

Desmond Mason

Chris Wilcox
(look closely and see the guys at the right)

Here's a crop to help you see who I mean

David Stern & Mayor Mick Cornett

Johan Petro

Nick Collison

And Now I'm Talkin' Heaven Again

The legacy which Oklahoma City hoped for in its March 4 vote has begun!

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Anonymous said...


New Orleans - 2 for 2

Oklahoma City - 1 for 2

Doug Dawg said...

Well, I'd like to say, "Great," keep up the good work," but the fact is that NO has 1 sellout (Cleveland). Last night's NO v. Atlanta game was not a sellout (16,030). After Okc's last night game, Okc has 2 sellouts out of 3 home games. But that no longer matters since both cities now have teams not appended by the name of another city! Do well!