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Volume 3 Issue 3

magazine

THUNDER LETTER FROM THE EDITOR Professional Basketball Club, LLC

Chairman & Chief Executive Officer Clayton I. Bennett

Board of Directors

Aubrey K. McClendon G. Jeffrey Records, Jr. Tom L. Ward William M. Cameron Robert E. Howard II Everett R. Dobson Jay Scaramucci

Oklahoma City Thunder 211 N. Robinson, Suite 300 Oklahoma City, OK 73102 Phone: 405.208.4800

THUNDER.NBA.COM

Executive Vice President & General Manager Sam Presti

Executive Vice President, Chief Administrative Officer Danny Barth

Senior Vice President, Sales & MARKETING Brian M. Byrnes

Senior Vice President, Guest Relations Pete Winemiller

Vice President, Business Development John Croley

Vice President, Corporate Communications & Community Relations Dan Mahoney

Vice President, Human Resources Katy Semtner

VICE PRESIDENT, TICKET SALES, RETENTION & DATABASE OPERATIONS Scott Loft

Managing Editor Ron Matthews

Business Development

Nick Colburn, Whitney Emde, Wayne Guymon, Sean Heusel, Regan Lynn, Abby Morgan, Ryan O’Toole, Stephanie Parrish, Geoff Sanders, Tim Whang

O

NE OF THE GOALS with this publication is to pull back the curtains, so to speak, on everything that falls under the Thunder Basketball umbrella. From the insight into the players’ daily routines to their time spent in the community; from the daily happenings at the Thunder front office to the goingson in the arena; Thunder fans have a big appetite for information on their team. We keep this in mind as we brainstorm stories for this publication and our other content mediums including our website (THUNDER.NBA.COM), weekly television show (Thunder Insider), Game Night program and various email newsletters. We strive to not tell the obvious. Thunder Basketball writer Chris Silva embraces this challenge. But his assignment for this issue, a profile on Thunder forward Nick Collison, would test him (or so I thought). After all, Nick is the longesttenured player on the Thunder roster. He is in his eighth NBA season, and was a familiar face in Big 12 country during his four years at Kansas. He’s not exactly an unknown. But Silva’s reporting brought to light a new side of Nick, one his teammates and head coach, Scott Brooks, share in the cover story titled, “Everybody’s Favorite Teammate” (Pages 28-38). Nick is recognized for exemplifying the Thunder’s commitment to hard work and community involvement. He underscored that statement in January when he made a $40,000 personal donation to Special Care, an Oklahoma City facility that offers education, therapy and other programs for children with and without special needs. Another highlight in this issue is the story titled, “MISSION CONTROL: THUNDERVISION” (Pages 44-52). It is a behind-the-scenes look at the people, equipment and technology that make the Thunder’s giant scoreboard and LED screens come to their colorful life. The scoreboard is vital to a fan’s game-night experience. It is a source for replays, stats, promotional information and, of course, non-stop entertainment. “The action happens so fast in the NBA that it’s hard to keep up,” Season Ticket Member Brad McClure said. “ThunderVision really helps you with the ability to see things you missed.” One thing you don’t want to miss is the photography throughout this issue. I especially want to call out the Parting Shot (Page 64) photo. Adorably cute, it also screams out two words:

Editorial Assistance

Brian Facchini, Vicki Guerra, Roxanne Nguyen, Michael Ravina, John Read

GO THUNDER!!

Contributing Writers

Phil Bacharach, Chris Silva

Photography

Angela Rowe, Richard A. Rowe, J.P. Wilson, Paul Wilson, OKC Thunder photos; Dustin Schmidt, Old Hat Creative

PHOTOGRAPHY EDITING Lacey Leach

Graphic Design & Layout

Brian Hostetler, Old Hat Creative, Norman, OK

Ron Matthews Director, Digital Media & Publications rmatthews@thunder-nba.com

Printing

Southwestern Stationery & Bank Supply 4500 N. Santa Fe 73118 | P.O. Drawer 18697 Oklahoma City, OK 73154

1


28 COVER STORY Nick Collison learned at an early age to respect the game, to sacrifice personal glory for the good of the team. Eight years into his NBA career, that approach remains as strong as ever with nightly examples of taking charges, diving for loose balls and setting hard screens. It’s a big reason why Thunder Head Coach Scott Brooks calls his forward “everybody’s favorite teammate.”

OPENING SHOTS 5 Six photos covering 10 pages, starting with deep inside the Thunder’s pre-game huddle and ending with Rumble the Bison’s birthday celebration. Enjoy.

PLAYER CARDS 17 The third in a series of four detachable player cards designed to help you learn more about your 2010-11 Thunder players.

TEAMMATES 22 Thunder fans danced in their seats and in front of their televisions when Kevin Durant drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer to beat the Knicks, 101-98, on Jan. 22. That was nothing compared to the reaction of his teammates.

TULSA 66ERS 41 The 2010-11 Tulsa 66ers have made a lot of noise in the NBA D-League, with two NBA call-ups, the league’s best record and a 14-game winning streak that stands as the third longest in NBA D-League history.

44

INSIDE MISSION CONTROL ThunderVision captures far more than the on-court heroics of the players. Thirty-onefeet tall and 35-feet wide, the scoreboard inside OKC Arena offers a courtside vantage point to glimpse such precious details as a Thunder Girl’s radiant smile or the dimples of the Raindrops, the Thunder’s junior dance team. Making those images appear for 18,000plus to see is a team of people, working in a room full of monitors, buttons and control panels located above Love’s Loud City.

SCENE & SEEN 57

COLLECT THEM ALL

From Oklahoma football Coach Bob Stoops to 250 Army privates from Fort Sill; from halftime acts to Thunder entertainers; from young fans dancing on the court to super fans; our cameras captured them cheering on the Thunder!

PARTING SHOT 64 “LET’S GO THUNDER!”

Missing any past issues of Thunder Magazine? Want to start your collection? Visit the THUNDER SHOP at the Oklahoma City Arena or at Leadership Square for past issues. Puzzle Solution from page 24

The information contained in this publication was compiled by the Oklahoma City Thunder and is provided as a courtesy to its fans. Any commercial use of this information is prohibited without the prior written consent of the Oklahoma City Thunder. All NBA and team insignias depicted in this publication are the property of NBA Properties, Inc. and the respective teams of the NBA Properties Inc. and may not be reproduced for commercial purposes without the prior written consent of NBA Properties, Inc. © Copyright 2011 Oklahoma City Thunder


What acting career hasn’t been boosted by a banana costume? The banana costume. It’s the go-to costume for every shy kid in town. It works hard to free spirits and cure stage fright. It’s seen a few accidents here and there, but it’s had a good run. We at SandRidge are giving scholarships to the Thelma Gaylord Academy so this banana costume, and many others, can continue to make every kid in OKC a star.

w w w. S a n d R i d g e E n e rg y. c o m


Delivering your News in a Whole neW Way the oklahoman Now AvAilAble For DowNloAD


UNITED AS ONE Thunder players lock hands in the pre-game huddle, seconds before the ball is tossed for the opening tip. PHOTO BY RICHARD A. ROWE / THUNDER PHOTO


6


LET’S GET IT STARTED Members of the adidas Storm Chasers run out with the T-H-U-N-D-E-R flags to get fans pumped up during a fourth-quarter timeout. PHOTO BY J.P. Wilson / THUNDER PHOTO


8


WARNING: THUNDER ROAD BLOCKS AHEAD Serge Ibaka and Jeff Green work in unison to clog Knicks guard Raymond Felton’s path to the basket during the Dec. 22 game in Madison Square Garden. PHOTO BY NATHANIEL S. BUTLER / NBAE / GETTY IMAGES


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WHOSE BALL IS IT? The hands of Nenad Krstic and Nets center Brook Lopez appear to frame the ball during the opening tip-off of the Thunder vs. New Jersey Nets game on Dec. 29. Krstic tipped the ball to Jeff Green, and the Thunder went on to a 114-93 victory. PHOTO BY ANGELA ROWE / THUNDER PHOTO


12


YOU GO, THUNDER GIRLS! The Thunder Girls light up the night and energize the crowd during their first-quarter performance during the Thunder-Knicks game on Jan. 22. For more on the Thunder Girls, visit their new web pages at thunder.nba.com. PHOTO BY RICHARD A. ROWE / THUNDER PHOTO


14


MASCOT MANIA Rumble the Bison invited all his rowdy friends from across the NBA to his birthday celebration on Jan. 22. Joining him on court (left to right) are the Gorilla (Phoenix), Stuff (Orlando), Bear (Utah), Boomer (Indiana), the Coyote (San Antonio) and Grizz (Memphis). Slamson (Sacramento) and Crunch (Minnesota) also appeared for the party. PHOTO BY RICHARD A. ROWE / THUNDER PHOTO


p H Y S I c I A n • p AT I E n T • T E c H n O l O G Y • p r O c E D U r E • c O M M U n I T Y B E n E f I T • AwA r E n E S S

The Disturbing Statistics Of Disturbed Sleep

IT’S TIME TO

AMErIcA’S GrOwInG SlEEp DISOrDEr crISIS More than 40 million Americans suffer from disturbed sleep, which is the result of one or more sleep disorders. A stunning 80% of these cases go undiagnosed. Sleep is vital to our health – the more missed, the more detrimental. So when the sleep we do get is fragmented, it spells real trouble. Research cites disturbed sleep as a risk factor for numerous diseases: • Hypertension • Heart disease • Heart failure

• Stroke • Depression • Diabetes

• Obesity • Impotence

An InTEGrIS cEnTEr Of ExcEllEncE The Sleep Disorders Center of Oklahoma is an INTEGRIS Center of Excellence that offers diagnosis and treatment for all sleep disorders: snoring, sleep apnea, insomnia, narcolepsy, excessive sleepiness and restless legs syndrome. INTEGRIS is Oklahoma’s longest-accredited sleep center, meeting the industry’s “gold standard” of criteria. And because sleep disorders frequently involve other diseases, only INTEGRIS can provide a complete continuum of care under one roof. There are three convenient metro locations to serve you. And rest assured, your INTEGRIS “Dream Team” is one of the most qualified in the nation, bringing you more than 50 years of clinical experience.

integrisOK.com 888-53-SLEEP


HT: 6-3

WT: 187

DOB: 11.12.88 NBA EXP: 3rd Season

First-half highlights:

DOB: 5.2.84

NBA EXP: 5th Season

Russell is averaging 22.7 points, 8.3 assists, 5.0 rebounds and 1.9 steals in 36.1 minutes per game. He recorded five consecutive double-double games from Jan. 8 to Jan. 19. … Russell recorded his second triple-double of the season (and fourth of his career) against Orlando on Jan. 13. … He was named the NBA’s Western Conference Player of the Week on two occasions. … Scored a career-high 43 points in overtime win at Indiana on Nov. 26.

WT: 215

(stats through Jan. 24, 2011)

HT: 6-7

First-half highlights:

DOB: 8.31.86

(stats through Jan. 24, 2011)

WT: 251

NBA EXP: 3rd Season

Thabo is averaging 5.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.4 steals in 28.6 minutes. … The Thunder is 8-1 when Thabo scores in double figures. … He matched a career high with 13 rebounds at Houston on Jan. 12. … He scored a season-high 15 points and grabbed a team-high nine rebounds against the Rockets on Dec. 15. … He had a career-high six steals against Toronto on Dec. 13.

HT: 6-9

First-half highlights: D.J. appeared in 21 games for the Thunder. He averaged 3.1 points and 2.3 rebounds in 9.8 minutes. Against Houston on Nov. 17, D.J. came off the bench and scored 12 points on 5 of 7 shooting. (stats through Jan. 24, 2011)

GUARD

GUARD/ FORWARD

FORWARD

HT: 6-10

WT: 255

DOB: 10.26.80 NBA EXP: 7th Season

First-half highlights:

DOB: 6.11.87

NBA EXP: 2nd Season

Set a season-high with 19 points on 8-for-10 shooting to go along with a team-high nine rebounds against Phoenix on Dec. 19. … Pulled down a season-high and game-high 10 rebounds in win at Charlotte on Dec. 21.

WT: 175

(stats through Jan. 24, 2011)

HT: 6-3

First-half highlights:

Eric is averaging 4.5 points, 2.2 assists and 1.5 rebounds in 14.2 minutes. He ranks second on the Thunder in three-point shooting at 35.8 percent. … Eric recorded 12 points, five rebounds and three assists against Milwaukee on Nov. 20.

WT: 215

DOB: 12.20.81 NBA EXP: 7th Season

(stats through Jan. 24, 2011)

HT: 6-4

First-half highlights:

(stats through Jan. 24, 2011)

FORWARD/ CENTER

GUARD

GUARD

Royal appeared in 14 games. He came off the bench and was 2-for-2 from beyond the 3-point line in Thunder’s win at Boston on Nov. 19.


HT: 6-10

WT: 235

DOB: 9.18.89

NBA EXP: 2nd Season

First-half highlights:

WT: 240

DOB: 7.25.83

NBA EXP: 7th Season

(stats through Jan. 24, 2011)

Serge is averaging 10.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.1 blocks in 26.3 minutes. He made 18 starts in the first 43 games, during which time the Thunder went 13-5. … Serge set a career high with eight blocked shots at Minnesota on Dec. 8. … He scored in double figures 25 times and has seven double-doubles to date, including back-to-back efforts against Atlanta and Jan. 1 against San Antonio.

HT: 7-0

First-half highlights: Nenad is averaging 7.9 points and 4.8 rebounds in 22.4 minutes. He posted his first double-double of the season with 16 points and 11 rebounds against Orlando on Jan. 13. … The Thunder is 8-3 when Nenad reaches double-digit scoring totals.

DOB: 8.26.89 NBA EXP: 2nd Season

(stats through Jan. 24, 2011)

WT: 220

FORWARD

CENTER

GUARD

HT: 6-5

WT: 210

DOB: 4.28.87 NBA EXP: 4th Season

First-half highlights:

WT: 235

DOB: 8.28.86 NBA EXP: 4th Season

(stats through Jan. 24, 2011)

Played in seven games. After going scoreless in first three appearances with the Thunder, Daequan scored 13 points against the Los Angeles Clippers on Nov. 3.

HT: 6-9

First-half highlights:

DOB: 2.14.89

(stats through Jan. 24, 2011)

WT: 275

NBA EXP: 2nd Season

Jeff is averaging 14.8 points and 5.4 rebounds in 36.9 minutes. … Scored a career-high 37 points in tripleovertime victory at New Jersey on Dec. 1. His three made free throws with 4.6 seconds remaining in second overtime helped force the third extra period. … Posted his first double-double of season with 15 points and 14 rebounds during win at Indiana on Nov. 26.

HT: 7-0

First-half highlights:

HT: 6-5

First-half highlights:

Byron has appeared in 12 games with the Thunder. He was assigned to the Tulsa 66ers for one game on Dec. 9 and scored 19 points and grabbed four rebounds in 33 minutes. (stats through Jan. 24, 2011)

James is averaging 10.4 points, 3.3 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.1 steals in 25.4 minutes. … He leads the Thunder in 3-point shooting accuracy (38 percent). … Scored 10-plus points in 12 consecutive games from Dec. 12 through Jan. 4. … Made a career-high-tying six 3-point shots and scored 23 points at Milwaukee on Nov. 20. (stats through Jan. 24, 2011)

GUARD

FORWARD

CENTER

HT: 6-9

WT: 235

DOB: 9.29.88 NBA EXP: 4th Season

First-half highlights:

WT: 220

DOB: 10.31.88 NBA EXP: 1st Season

DOB: 8.26.77

NBA EXP: 11th Season

(stats through Jan. 24, 2011)

Played in seven games for the Thunder. … Cole was assigned to the Tulsa 66ers for the second time on Dec. 30. He averaged 9.3 points and 7.6 rebounds in 28.4 minutes for the 66ers.

First-half highlights:

WT: 245

(stats through Jan. 24, 2011)

Kevin is averaging a league-high 28.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.1 steals in 39.4 minutes per game. … Kevin hit a game-winning 3-pointer in a 101-98 victory over New York on Jan. 22. … Named the NBA’s Western Conference Player of the Month for December. … Recorded a season-high 44 points against Denver on Dec. 25.

HT: 6-11

HT: 6-7

First-half highlights:

Morris appeared in four games for the Thunder. He has averaged 1.0 points and 0.8 rebounds in 5.8 minutes.

(stats through Jan. 24, 2011)

FORWARD

CENTER

GUARD


© Copyright 2011, Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores, Inc., All Rights Reserved. Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores (and design) is a registered trademark of Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores. Any other logos are property of their respective owners. Photo: E.H. Roth

Welcome to Love’s Loud City Prepare to leave the rest of the world behind. This is the hometown of Loud. If your not yellin’ you better have a doctor’s note. Get on your feet for the loudest 48 minutes of your life. It begins NOW.

Love’s Travel Stops and Country Stores, is the Proud Sponsor and Official Convenience Store of the Oklahoma City THUNDER.


A ‘GOOD, GOOD NIGHT, ‘ INDEED!

22


When Kevin Durant nailed his 25-foot jump shot at the buzzer to defeat the New York Knicks, 101-98, it touched off a celebration in the Oklahoma City Arena for fans and Thunder players alike. Durant exchanged chest-bumps and highfives with his teammates, who rushed from their place on the floor as well as the Thunder bench to join the celebration. “ONCE I let it go ... “ The shot was set up during a Thunder timeout with 6.5 seconds remaining. Durant told Head Coach Scott Brooks in the huddle that he wanted to take the last shot. “Not that I wasn’t going to give him the ball,” Brooks quipped. Thabo Sefolosha inbounded the ball to Russell Westbrook at the top of the key and Westbrook immediately got the ball to Durant, who had Danilo Gallinari draped all over him. Durant went to work, dribbling to his right and making sure there was as little time as possible on the clock when he took the shot. When Durant turned, elevated and released his shot, his initial thought was that it was short. Then he said his mind went blank. “Once I let it go, it felt like everybody went silent,” he said. “Once it went in I really couldn’t hear too much. I was looking toward the bench and once I snapped back into it I really heard the crowd. That’s one of the all-time best feelings I’ve ever had in this league.” You can relive that shot and celebration by watching the video on THUNDER.NBA.COM.

23


Solution on page 2

24


If the Thunder is your team, we’re your bank.

MidFirst Bank is proud to be the Official Bank of the Oklahoma City Thunder. 888.MIDFIRST (643-3477) Member FDIC


DATE FEBRUARY

MARCH

APRIL

OPPONENT

TIME TV

2/8

VS.

MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES

7 PM

FSO

2/12

@

SACRAMENTO KINGS

9 PM

FSO

2/13

@

GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS

7 PM

FSO

2/15

VS.

SACRAMENTO KINGS

7 PM

FSO

2/22

VS.

LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS

7 PM

FSO

2/23

@

SAN ANTONIO SPURS

6 PM

FSO

2/25

@

ORLANDO MAGIC

7 PM

FSO

2/27

VS.

LOS ANGELES LAKERS

1:30 PM

ABC

3/2 3/4

VS. @

INDIANA PACERS ATLANTA HAWKS

7 PM 6:30 PM

FSO FSO

3/6

VS.

PHOENIX SUNS

6 PM

FSO

3/7

@

MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES

7 PM

FSO

3/9

@

PHILADELPHIA 76ERS

6 PM

FSO

7 PM

FSO

3/11

VS.

3/13

@

DETROIT PISTONS CLEVELAND CAVALIERS

NOON

FSO

3/14

@

WASHINGTON WIZARDS

6 PM

FSO

3/16

@

MIAMI HEAT

7 PM

FSO

3/18

VS.

CHARLOTTE BOBCATS

7 PM

FSO

3/20

VS.

TORONTO RAPTORS

6 PM

FSO

3/23

VS.

UTAH JAZZ

7 PM

FSO

3/25

VS.

MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES

7 PM

FSO

3/27

VS.

PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS

7 PM

FSO

3/29

VS.

GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS

7 PM

FSO

3/30

@

PHOENIX SUNS

4/1 4/2

@ @

PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS

9 PM

FSO

9 PM 9:30 PM

FSO FSO

4/5

@

DENVER NUGGETS

8 PM

FSO

4/6

VS.

LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS

7 PM

FSO

4/8

VS.

DENVER NUGGETS

7 PM

FSO

4/10

@

LOS ANGELES LAKERS

8 PM

FSO

4/11

@

SACRAMENTO KINGS

9 PM

FSO

4/13

VS.

MILWAUKEE BUCKS

7 PM

FSO

FSO = Fox Sports Oklahoma ABC = ABC TV

facebook.com/thunderfans

OKC COX COX HD Tulsa COX DIRECTV Dish Network AT&T U Verse 37

722

27

679

Check guide

754

twitter.com/okcthunder


CALLING THE ACTION

THUNDER INSIDER

The Thunder Broadcast Team (left to right) Brian Davis, Kelly Crull, Grant Long and Matt Pinto bring the action on the court to your TV and radio. Catch Thunder Basketball exclusively on FOX Sports Oklahoma (FSO) and the statewide Thunder Radio Network, led by WWLS, The Sports Animal (98.1 FM, 640 AM). All Thunder home games are also broadcast in Spanish on WKY AM 930 in Oklahoma Eleno Ornelas City, La Indomoble. Veteran broadcaster Eleno Ornelas calls the action.

From game analysis to player features to the Thunder in the community, Thunder Insider is a weekly comprehensive TV look at your Thunder. Presented by INTEGRIS Health and hosted by Kelly Crull, the show also features Thunder broadcasters Brian Davis, Grant Long, Matt Pinto, Thunder Basketball writer Chris Silva and The Sports Animal’s Mike Steely, who offers a unique fan’s perspective. Thunder Insider airs several times each week on FOX Sports Oklahoma. Check thunder.nba.com for air dates and times. It will also be heard Thursday evenings at 7:30 p.m. on WWLS, The Sports Animal and can be viewed on the Internet at thunder.nba.com, newsok.com and thesportsanimal.com.

PRESENTED BY INTEGRIS HEALTH


28


Nick Collison learned at an early age to respect the game, to sacrifice personal glory for the good of the team. It’s a big reason why Thunder Coach Scott Brooks calls Collison

‘EVERYBODY’S FAVORITE TEAMMATE’ By CHRIS SILVA | THUNDER.NBA.COM

In the bowels of Oklahoma City Arena, about 20 minutes before every game,

It doesn’t matter who we’re playing, he’s basically telling us if we want to get to where we want to be as a championship team, we’ve got to take the games serious every night.” — Eric Maynor

Nick Collison reveals a side of himself that only his teammates get to see. Minutes before the team takes the court, right there in the hallway, just outside the locker room and within earshot of the filtering-in crowd and a warmed up public address system, is where Collison delivers a pregame pep talk. His teammates gather around him. They stand there and listen to the words, phrases and reminders that come from Collison’s mouth. He’s not arrogant about it or funny either. He doesn’t bark like a dog, like New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, or start screaming nothings, like Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, or start break dancing like Rasheed Wallace used to do in Detroit. With Collison, what you see is what you get. Professional and poised, clear and to the point. “It doesn’t matter who we’re playing, he’s basically telling us if we want to get to where we want to be as a championship team, we’ve got to take the games serious every night,” guard Eric Maynor said. “We’ve got to defend and take care of things. Right before we run out, he lets us know we have to be mentally prepared in what we do.” “The right positioning,” center Byron Mullens said, “the way to CONTINUED ON PAGE 31

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DAY

DATE

OPPONENT

LOCATION

TIME

Saturday

12-Feb

Sacramento KingS

drinKz

9pm

Sunday

13-Feb

golden State warriorS

bww n.w. expreSSway

7pm

wedneSday

23-Feb

San antonio SpurS

louie’S norman

6pm

Friday

25-Feb

orlando magic

HooterS n.w. expreSSway

7pm

Friday

4-mar

atlanta HawKS

miKe’S

6:30pm

monday

7-mar

mempHiS grizzlieS

Henry HudSon’S 6728 n. olie

7pm

wedneSday

9-mar

pHiladelpHia 76erS

dan mcguineSS moore

6pm

Sunday

13-mar

cleveland cavalierS

tHe dugout

noon

monday

14-mar

waSHington wizardS

HooterS S oKc i-240

6pm

wedneSday

16-mar

miami Heat

bww n.w. expreSSway

7pm

wedneSday

30-mar

pHoenix SunS

loganS

9pm

Friday

1-apr

portland trail blazerS

republic gaStropub

9pm

Saturday

2-apr

loS angeleS clipperS

HooterS n.w. expreSSway

9:30pm

tueSday

5-apr

denver nuggetS

Henry HudSon’S midweSt city

8pm

Sunday

10-apr

loS angeleS laKerS

couSinS

8:30pm

monday

11-apr

Sacramento KingS

bww n.w. expreSSway

9pm

THUNDER.Nba.com


Nick Collison talks with guards Russell Westbrook and James Harden during a break in a recent game. “He speaks up in every situation,” teammate Byron Mullens says of Collison.

Mullens said. “He’s probably the one who addresses the team the most.” Collison points things out while on the bench. Coming out of timeouts, you can see him talking to teammates as they take the floor again. On defense, he’s the Thunder player always talking. It’s appreciated and welcomed. It’s respected. Collison’s approach, from the way he communicates to the way he sacrifices his body, is part of what makes him such a good teammate.

play certain ways on defense.” “It’s usually positive things,” forward Kevin Durant said. “Sometimes he tells us what we haven’t done.” And as the game progresses, Collison continues to talk. Observe, communicate, take action – that’s pretty much his night in a nutshell. Maynor was relieved when Collison returned from injury earlier this season because, “he’s always at the right place at the right time. He’s always helping us out while we’re out there so it’s great to be out there with him.” And he’s always heard. “He speaks up in every situation,”

L

ook at the roster, look at what the franchise has been through over the last decade, and know that Collison has been the one constant. He’s been through it all with the franchise, the only player remaining from the day that Sam Presti was announced as the team’s General Manager on July 7, 2007, a player who’s experienced the highs and the lows in this league over and again. Consider this: Collison sat out his rookie season with two separated shoulders, made the playoffs in his first full season, played through three consecutive losing seasons, experienced a relocation to Oklahoma City, had another

losing season, returned to the postseason a year ago and signed a contract extension with the club this past fall. Presti refers to Collison as a “significant stakeholder in what we’re trying to establish.” “Nick is a guy that contributes to winning and most of his contributions come by way of sacrifice, whether it’s sacrifice of his body physically as a charge-taker or sacrifice as a guy who doesn’t have the ball in his hands all the time but finds ways to impact the game and tip the scales,” Presti said. “The things he does aren’t measured, I don’t think, so much on a night to night basis as much as the body of work and his contributions are often seen by our quality of play, because the things he does raise the quality of play for the team.” Spending an entire career with one team is a rare thing in pro sports these days, but Collison’s loyalty and his toughness, helped him make it through the various cycles. Along the way, he’s assumed various roles: reserve, starter, reserve, not even playing because of match-ups, spot starter, and coming off the bench again. He’s played injured and he’s always sacrificed his statistics for the good of the team. He entered the NBA as the allCONTINUED ON PAGE 33

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time scorer in Big 12 history, a player who would eventually have his No. 4 jersey hang from the rafters at Allen Field House on the Kansas campus. The Thunder decided to extend his contract more than a season before it expired because Collison is representative of what the organization wants from its players: consistency, a commitment to the team, one who is not concerned with the flash and dash. “There’s only one column on Nick Collison’s scorecard, and that’s winning and losing, and that’s why I appreciate what he’s done for our franchise,” Presti said. “He’s not worried about his statistics. He’s worried about contributing to winning and paying attention to detail to help us to do that.”

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here’s a small contingent of fans that sometimes show up at Oklahoma City Arena and go by the name “Collison’s Crew.” They wear yellow construction hard hats and try their best to look blue collar. Whenever their man, Collison, makes a head’s up play, they cheer in approval. A heady play by Collison includes, but is not limited to, taking a charge (he is one of the league’s best), setting a hard screen, or diving on the floor or into the stands to chase a loose ball. Head Coach Scott Brooks was asked what type of plays he would include in a Nick Collison highlight reel. “Just getting dirty,” Brooks began. “He’s a lunch-pail guy. He’s a charge-taking, screen-setting guy. I mean, those are bone-crushing screens that you kind of take for granted because a guy might get through it, but it hurts. He hurts guys when he sets screens, but he gets our guys open. Charge-taking, just his body language, his communication to our guys, those are the things I look at. If you want something flashier, there’s his catches on the baseline for dunks. We call it the dunker’s spot and he gets into that spot as quickly and as powerful as anybody on our team and he finishes around the basket. He’s everybody’s favorite teammate.” As Presti once put it, Collison is more about creating opportunities than highlights. Chances are, nobody is going to be standing around the water cooler the day after a Thunder game gushing about Collison’s help-side defense. And no kid

Nick Collison exchanges a slap of the hands with teammates Thabo Sefolosha and Jeff Green. (Below) Collison’s work ethic on the court is appreciated by his loyal supporters dubbed, “Collison’s Crew.”

is likely to hang a poster in his or her bedroom of Collison setting a wicked screen. But it wouldn’t be wrong to do either. Collison appeals more to the basketball purists and old timers who sit around in small gyms and reminisce about what the game used to be -- classic, pure and forever appreciated. He gets it from his father, Dave Collison, a basketball lifer himself who played college ball at a small NAIA school in their home state of Iowa before he started coaching in 1976. When you hear Brooks or any Thunder player talk about how Collison plays hard, plays the right way, the fundamental way, they’re more than just clichés. Those are principles that Dave Collison has always

There’s only one column on Nick Collison’s scorecard, and that’s winning and losing.” — Sam Presti

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Nick Collison sets his position against Phoenix guard Goran Dragic. “He’s always at the right place at the right time,” teammate Eric Maynor says of Collison, a statement echoed by Head Coach Scott Brooks.

preached. There was a bulletin board inside Collison’s high school locker room that had the phrase, “Play hard, play smart and play together.” Nick was always a stickler for detail. His father will tell you that as a first grader, young Nick always tagged along with dad to basketball practice, bagged lunch in hand, first serving as the water boy, when he would sit on the bench and could rattle off what kind of sneaker every kid in the conference wore. He even mimicked how each star player played. When Dave Collison took game film home, Nick was on the couch with him. Father would point out plays and nuances to son, and son would chime in to dad about what he saw. That was family time for

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the Collisons. “I think a lot of high school coaches in Iowa do a very good job of emphasizing the little things, the details, the screen at the right angle, helping and recovering with your man, hitting a screen and not stopping,” Dave Collison said in a phone interview. “We do a lot of rotating to help out and things like that. We couldn’t win games with unbelievable athleticism. I think basketball in Iowa is very much about guys learning to do their jobs and do it well and fit all those things together. I think that’s something Nick learned and other kids in Iowa learned, too.” Nick said the biggest thing he learned from his father, both on and off the court, was to be accountable for your own

actions. Neither of his parents would let him make excuses. If he got a bad grade, it had nothing to do with the teacher; it was because Nick didn’t study enough. If he was messing up on the basketball court, it wasn’t the coach’s fault; it’s because Nick didn’t do something properly. Growing up the son of a coach had its benefits. “Just a lot of the subtle things of the game I was able to learn early,” Nick said. “I understood help-side defense as a younger kid than most kids do. Most kids don’t learn that concept until high school. It was just something I was always around. Then when something was taught to my team I was able to pick it up because I had seen it before and I always felt like I understood what the coach was trying to say or trying to teach. I kind of had a head start. It was a good advantage for me.” To this day, Roy Williams considers Collison the most fundamentally sound basketball player he’s ever had. When Collison arrived at the University of Kansas, Williams said he encouraged the high school All-American to continue to focus on those intangibles, but as the current North Carolina coach said, “At that level, he was already pretty darn good.” To further exemplify that point, Williams recalled the start of Collison’s freshman season, when the Jayhawks were suffering through a losing streak. “I said, ‘Why am I not yelling at him as much as some of the older guys?’ ” Williams recalled in a phone interview. “And one of the seniors said, ‘Because he does everything you say.’ And I said, ‘That’s what it is.’ He had that quality as a freshman. As he got older he continued to do what I asked him to do, he continued to be coachable and he also tried to help the younger guys along and coach them and encourage them.” As a rookie in the NBA, Collison’s coaches couldn’t yell at him because he never touched the floor. After dislocating both of his shoulders prior to the start of the season, surgery forced him to sit out his entire rookie campaign. All he could do was watch. But that taught him something. It taught him how he’d be able to carve himself a role, find himself a niche in the NBA, the very one you see him display night in and night out nearly eight seasons later. “I do think that when you get in the CONTINUED ON PAGE 37


NBA you have to find who you are and do that,” Collison said. “You can’t be pretty good at a lot of stuff. It’s kind of funny, when you come into draft workouts they have you play one-on-one from all these spots. There’s very few guys who get one-on-one plays. The rest of the guys, you have to figure out how to be valuable and I think that’s kind of what I was able to do early and that just became who I was.” Collison figured his best shot at making a career out of the sport was by continuing to do the things that he learned from his father. When he came back from surgery, the same guy who was posting double-doubles regularly at Kansas said he “wasn’t operating in the post like I used to and I found out the way I was able to get on the court was defend, rebound, set screens and do the little things. … We played a little bit like Phoenix with a lot of mid-pick-androlls and the bigs were just screen-setters and that’s kind of who I became. It got me on the floor … I found a niche and I’m happy with how my career’s gone.”

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art of that niche, of course, has been being a good teammate. Everyone likes a good teammate. The Thunder roster is full of them. But for Collison, being a good teammate, lending a helping hand, is a creed he’s always lived by. Both Wayne Simien and Keith Langford have stories about how Collison helped them during their freshman year at Kansas. Simien and Collison played the same power forward position. Simien, a newcomer, wasn’t sure how they would vibe on and off the court since they were competing for the same minutes. But Simien’s favorite memory of Collison was how he never let that come between them. Simien said Collison went out of his way to help him become a better player. “I loved how we could compete fiercely against each other and then go have a pizza right after,” Simien said through email. Another memory, right on par with that, was when Simien was having surgery in New York City the night the Jayhawks were playing Duke with a spot in the Final Four on the line in 2002. Kansas won and Collison made a gesture that still sticks with Simien to this day. “While the team was cutting down the nets, Nick wrote my (jersey) number on a piece of paper, showed it to the crowd, and then cut down a part of the net for me,” Simien recalled. “He had just had one of the biggest games of his college career and was thoughtful enough to consider a injured teammate.” On the court, Langford, a guard, said Collison made everything flow. Collison knew how to clown with freshmen teammates who pulled pranks and when to push them on the floor. Langford remembers being overwhelmed with the demands of college life and basketball early on. “I was hanging out with Nick and on the way home he put in a CD that had the song ‘Computer Love’ by Zapp & Roger on and he literally sang every word like he wrote it,” Langford said through email. “I remember thinking that this white guy is as cool as he is good a basketball player. Point being, for an All-Americaneverything to spend time with a struggling freshman was huge in my eyes.” To this day, Collison makes trips back to Lawrence to check in on current Jayhawks. When Thunder rookie Cole Aldrich was at Kansas, he can recall several instances when Collison would come

HOW TO TAKE A CHARGE with

Nick Collison

I think a lot of it anticipation and reading when a guy is going to go all the way to the basket. If you can kind of see him with his head down and he doesn’t see you, that is the time when you know that you’re going to have an opportunity. “Another thing is just getting there early. That’s the hardest part, getting there on time. Then taking the charge is easy. You can just kind of see where his body is going to go. You just get in the path and try to take the charge in the middle of your chest. I think referees are more likely to call it if you get it in the middle of the chest, even if you’re maybe moving a little bit, as opposed to if you’re set and he gets you on the side. It seems like they don’t like to call those. It’s either a no-call or a block.

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through town. “As players in school you have guys that are in the league and Nick’s jersey is in the rafters at the Field House,” Aldrich said. “Just to see a guy come back, he just hangs out with everybody. He makes sure everybody’s doing all right and just checks in once in a while with you. It really goes a long way.” Collison also lends a helping hand and dishes out advice to current Thunder teammates whenever he sees it fit. Mullens, in his second season with the Thunder, said that as a rookie Collison would give him advice on just about everything from handling finances to personal matters. “He gives everyone advice, not just on basketball but just on being a man and trying to let us know what to be ready for,” Mullens said. “He’s a veteran on the team. He’s great on advice. On the court he always tells me the right positions to be in. It’s just the little things that count a lot.”

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henever Brooks talks about Collison, one thing he almost always mentions is how he makes winning basketball plays, or how he’s a winner, or how he’s all about winning basketball. Basically any phrase you can turn with some variation of the word “win” in it, Brooks uses it when describing Collison. It might seem overused at times, but when you consider Collison’s background it actually makes sense. It’s not like his birth certificate said, “Nick Collison, Winner” but his high school basketball team did go 74-1 with him, winning two state titles in the process. While at Kansas, he helped the Jayhawks to two Final Fours and

an appearance in the 2003 NCAA Championship game. But for as much as Collison has become a winner, he wouldn’t be called one had it not been for that lone loss he suffered in high school in Iowa. It happened in the state tournament his sophomore season, a game that his team, Iowa Falls, should have won. Iowa Falls was the top-ranked team in the state tournament and had destroyed the rest of the competition up until then. But playing the lowest seed, Collison and his teammates got manhandled. He was 6-7 and as skinny as a straw. He fouled out with three points and, as he put it, “felt like a punk.” The morning after, he was in the weight room at 7, trying to get rid of the nasty taste of defeat and focus on the next season. His dad said that Nick made as much improvement in the first month after that loss than he did his entire sophomore season. The next season, Collison led his team to a 26-0 record and a state championship. “It was good that that happened in my life because at that point I thought I was better than I was,” Collison said of that loss. “It gave me an edge and it was something I kept for a long time. I was so embarrassed of that game and how I played. I thought I had let everyone down. That was huge for me, as a 16-year-old kid to get that edge. From then on it was like I was never happy with just the next game. I always had my mind set on something better because I knew how that felt.” Like when he was in the huddle of an Elite Eight game against Arizona in Anaheim, Calif., in the 2003 NCAA Tournament, with Kansas holding a 72-70 lead with a timeout on the floor and 2:30 left to play. “I kneeled down in the huddle and I

He gives everyone advice, not just on basketball but just on being a man and trying to let us know what to be ready for”

— Byron Mullens 38

(top) Nick, joined by his family, poses with the Iowa state championship trophy following his freshman year at Iowa Falls. (middle) A young Nick bundles up to shoot baskets outdoors. (bottom) Nick shoots a jumper in the high school tournament.

said a few things and then all of a sudden (Collison) said, ‘Hey, everybody get your act in gear. I’m going to the Final Four again. If you guys want to go along, get your butt in gear and we’re all going to go,’ ” Williams recalled. “It was very much a moment of him telling everyone what they’re supposed to do. It was not a finger-pointing episode or emphasis.” Kansas won the game, 78-75, on its way to a second consecutive Final Four.

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ven to this day, for as much as Collison talks and advises and shares about his basketball knowledge, he’s never been a finger-


Nick Collison, shown blocking the shot of the Cavs’ J.J. Hickson, prides himself in setting good screens and being quick on defensive rotations.

pointer or the condescending type. And it’s not that he’s practicing restraint, either. It’s just that Collison knows a little something about humility. Take it back to his freshman year of high school. Dad wanted him to run track and field. Actually, he demanded it. If you don’t run track, you’re not going to play college ball, Nick remembers his father saying. Fine, track it was. Problem was, Nick was all arms and legs. Out of the 40 kids on the track and field team, Nick estimated he was probably the 36th or 37th fastest kid, so they stuck him in the third heat of the junior varsity 4 x 100 meter relay and other times in the high jump. “And I wasn’t good at that,” Collison said. “I hated it. I dreaded it every day.”

Of course, Dave Collison said there was a lesson he wanted his son to learn from all of it. “I think it was really good for him because it was something he wasn’t good at,” Dave Collison said. “He was pretty good at everything he did. He was a very good baseball player and always good in basketball, but this wasn’t necessarily something he was good at. There were times he complained about it and I said, ‘Well, now you know what it’s like for those other kids who play basketball and struggle a little bit. You keep that in mind when they miss a shot or throw the ball away and you realize that they’re doing their best.’ I think that was good for him. I think sometimes, kids need to learn a little bit of humility along the way just by having a little bit of a struggle. Certainly,

you think in college basketball and the NBA, all those guys had struggles along the way, there’s no question about that. But it makes you stronger and better.” Said Nick: “I don’t think it was a big lesson. It just sucked. I guess if anything, it’s like you’ve got to do stuff you don’t want to do sometimes. It’s good for a younger kid to go through some stuff you’re not necessarily too excited about.” The humility didn’t stop there, either. There was his freshman year of college, when the Jayhawks lost 10 games. Remember, Collison had lost all of ONE game his entire high school career. So that took some adjusting to. And, of course, there was his rookie year in the NBA, when he sat out with shoulder injuries, and there was the 23-win season the Thunder endured during its first season in Oklahoma City. They were all learning experiences, and they all served Collison a slice of that humble pie. But the one constant throughout it all is his work ethic. It never wavers or changes. In it to win it: that’s his mantra. No skipping steps. Which brings us to this season, Collison’s eighth. At this point in his career, he knows his role and he understands the team concept, so much so that the Thunder inked him to a multi-year contract extension just before Thanksgiving. All of what Collison has gone through and done to get to this point in his career, the sacrifices, the humility, the work ethic, has helped him come to learn the true meaning of value and how it relates to his profession. If Collison wasn’t a basketball player, he’d make one heck of a salesman. “I think you create value for yourself by being a great teammate and being somebody that they want to put on the floor,” he said. “That sounds real obvious, but they want to put you on the floor not because you’re a good scorer or you’re a great rebounder. It’s because you help the team win. What does he do? I don’t know but the team plays better when he’s in there. I think you can create value like that, by setting good screens and being quick on your defensive rotations and stuff like that. I kind of feel like it gives me value to be like that.” And it’s just as valuable to those around him. Just ask his teammates. Chris Silva is the team’s Thunder Basketball writer. Contact him at csilva@thunder-nba.com

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tulsa66ers.com

Nate Tibbetts and his 66ers are all together following a team meeting where Tibbetts and his staff challenged the team to play as a unit.

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ULSA – 66ers Head Coach Nate Tibbetts gathered his team for a talk. The date was Dec. 17, and the 66ers had just suffered a 12-point loss to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants on their home court. “Guys hadn’t figured out their roles and guys hadn’t figured out what we were trying to do,” Tibbetts recalled. “We’ve got so many guys that can play, that each one of them has to sacrifice time, points and rebounds.” Tibbetts and his staff challenged the 66ers to play as a unit. Up until that point, they seldom had done so. Almost instantly, the 66ers settled into a groove and have remained in one ever since. The 66ers reeled off 14 consecutive victories from Dec. 30 through Jan. 29, the third-longest streak in NBA D-League history. The 66ers have overcome adversity and thrived on the defensive end. After having two of their top players in Zabian Dowdell (Phoenix) and Larry Owens (San Antonio) receive NBA call-ups, the 66ers didn’t skip a beat. They won 10 in a row away from home, allowed opponents

66ERS ANSWER COACH’S CHALLENGE TO PLAY AS A UNIT

By CHRIS SILVA | THUNDER.NBA.COM

to eclipse 100 points in just four games and held all but one opponent to under 50 percent shooting from the field during the streak. “Defensively is where we’ve given ourselves opportunities every night,” Tibbetts said. Tibbetts and his staff did not address

the players about maintaining the win streak, instead focusing on doing things the right way on a daily basis. Even on days like a recent practice, when the team had only eight players healthy to practice, Tibbetts has gotten the most out of them. CONTINUED ON PAGE 43

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FOR TICKETS CALL 918.585.8444 OR EMAIL TO info@tulsa66ers.com He said the 66ers are a prideful group that is clearly enjoying what it has going on right now. “The fun thing is we’re playing real well,” said center Cole Aldrich, who was on assignment from the Thunder. “We’re having a lot of fun. You can see in practice, all the guys like each other. So it makes it a lot easier.” Depth has been a strength for the 66ers, something Tibbetts credited to Thunder Executive Vice President/ General Manager Sam Presti, Director of Minor League Operations and Basketball Technology Paul Rivers and Director of Minor League Scouting and Manager of Minor League Operations Brandon Barnett for putting together a roster of players who can compete at a high level. No player on the 66ers active roster is averaging more than 28 minutes per game, and six players are averaging at least 10 points per game. There were seven players who scored in double figures in a 112-96 win over the Texas Legends on Jan. 22. “We haven’t had a lot of change,” Tibbetts said. “I think that’s one of the reasons why we’ve been successful, because we’ve had some carryover throughout the whole year. We’ve had some injuries and some call-ups but the guys who have been here all year have been playing.” Guard Garrett Williamson, the team’s most recent addition, has blended in nicely. When he joined the 66ers on Jan. 20, he had only a shoot-around to acclimate himself with his new teammates before contributing eight points and two assists in 16 minutes off the bench of Tulsa’s 112-107 win over the Reno Bighorns. The 66ers are 18-3 when its bench outscores the opposing bench, which further speaks to the depth on the team and the fact that there isn’t one player in particular who stands out over the other. It’s a total team effort. “We’ve had one guy step up for a game or two and then another guy steps up and it’s a good option for a coach just because you have so many guys who are playing at a high level," Tibbetts said. "We don’t have one or two guys. We’ve got a lot of guys who can contribute and we need to continue with that, I think, for us to have success.” Contact Chris Silva at csilva@thunder-nba.com.

2011 REMAINING SCHEDULE Feb 4 Utah

7:00pm

Feb 5

7:00pm

at Texas

Feb 11 Utah

7:00pm

Feb 12 Utah

7:00pm

Feb 16 at Sioux Falls

7:00pm

Feb 24 Erie

7:00pm

Feb 26 Texas

7:00pm

Feb 27 Sioux Falls

4:00pm

Mar 4

at Erie

6:00pm

Mar 5

at Erie

6:00pm

Mar 11 Sioux Falls

66ers Coach Nate Tibbetts has his team on a roll. “We’re having a lot of fun. You can see it in practice, all the guys like each other,” says Cole Aldrich, who was on assignment from the Thunder.

7:00pm

Mar 12 Sioux Falls

7:00pm

Mar 14 at Utah

8:00pm

Mar 16 at Idaho

8:00pm

Mar 18 at New Mexico

8:30pm

Mar 19 at New Mexico

8:30pm

Mar 22 Austin

7:00pm

Mar 25 Texas

7:00pm

Mar 26 Rio Grande Valley 7:00pm Apr 1

Dakota

Apr 2 Dakota

7:00pm 7:00pm

We don’t have one or two guys. We’ve got a lot of guys who can contribute and we need to continue with that, I think, for us to have success.” – Nate Tibbetts

INSIDE THE 66ERS’ 14-GAME WINNING STREAK

0 :: Number of losses between Dec. 30 and Jan. 29 3 :: Number of wins over Texas 5 :: Number of games in which 7 66ers posted double-figure scoring totals in same game

5 :: Number of 66ers to lead team in rebounding 7 :: Number of 66ers to lead team in scoring 10 :: Number of road wins 11 .6 :: Average margin of victory 14 :: Wins in a row 96 :: Average points allowed 107.6 :: Average points scored 43


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B

ill Hooker is seated at an impressive control panel of luminescent blue and yellow buttons. He barks directives over a headset to unseen people, his raspy voice betraying a faint New Jersey accent. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Go to 3. Go to 1. One! Go to 4. Now 2!â&#x20AC;? Throughout this curious count, he keeps his eyes trained on two large flat screens mounted on the wall in front of him. On each screen are multiple camera shots and broadcast feeds. The competing images and angles are a flood of information -- yet Hooker appears as the embodiment of focus and calm. At first glance, the scene looks as if it could be the launch of a space shuttle. But this is the NBA, not NASA.

CONTINUED ON PAGE 47

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Bill Hooker sits at his station inside ThunderVision’s mission control room, located above Love’s Loud City in the OKC Arena.

And this mission control center is all about the Thunder experience. As the director of ThunderVision, Hooker, 39, oversees everything that airs on the huge scoreboard inside the Oklahoma City Arena as well as on the LED screens that wrap around the bowl. This particular Sunday evening, the Thunder is taking on the Phoenix Suns. In a room high above the floor, Hooker is joined at his regular station by his usual colleagues: technical director Jason Clark and audio operator Kevan Forrest. Behind the three, Thunder video production manager Tim Higgins is taking notes at a small table. “If everything starts crashing, I’ll be all over the place,” he explains just before tip-off. Sure enough, they soon discover a problem with the Live Noise Meter, and Higgins disappears for a time to fix it. An occasional glitch is inevitable for a production as intense, elaborate and fastpaced as ThunderVision. The jumbotron, a 46,000-pound behemoth, is a constant

supply of information to the thousands of in-arena fans who look to it for game stats, instant replays, promotional deals or simply a closer view of the oncourt action. It is a source of entertainment for such fan-centric segments like the Love’s Kiss Cam, the Aspen Flex Cam or MidFirst Bank’s “Show Me the Money” competition, to name a few. ThunderVision’s connection to the Thunder faithful extends in other ways, too, with fans using it for special occasions such as happy birthday wishes or anniversary announcements. Brad McClure echoes the sentiments of many Thunder fans when he says ThunderVision and its dozen video panels are critical to the Thunder game experience. “The action happens so fast in the NBA that it’s hard to keep up, and there’s a lot of action that occurs away from the ball,” says McClure, who has been a Thunder Season Ticket Member since the

If Russell Westbrook makes a great dunk, we’re getting that camera on our side bench to whip around to get our fans’ reaction. You pull the energy from the fans, from the players.”

47


inaugural season. “ThunderVision really helps you with the ability to see things you missed because your eye was caught by things that were occurring where the basketball was, such as moving screens or injuries or things like that. The way the Thunder has set the thing up, you end up feeling

Mission control is an impressive -- and dizzying -display of computer screens, control panels and people all working toward one common goal: enhancing Thunder fans’ game-night experience.

48

like you don’t miss anything by being in the arena.” ThunderVision captures far more than the on-court action. Thirty-one-feet tall and 35-feet wide, it offers a courtside vantage point to glimpse such precious details as a Thunder Girl’s radiant smile or the dimples of the Raindrops,

the Thunder’s junior dance team. And speaking of courtside, ThunderVision also benefits those who actually do have such seats. The bottom of the scoreboard features two specially tilted video panels for fans seated close to the court. “When I try to encourage people to go to a Thunder game sometimes they’ll tell me, ‘Well, I watch them on television.’ My response is always, ‘You really need to go because there’s always so much more happening in the arena that you never see on television,’ and ThunderVision is responsible for that,” says Dennis Waller, a Season Ticket Member from Yukon. “There’s ‘Show Me the Money,’ the Kiss-Cam and video of the fans in the arena. There’s always something going on, and it’s all on ThunderVision.” As a result, the $3.9 million jumbotron amounts to an awful lot of pressure and even more to juggle -- and that’s why the Thunder’s Events & Entertainment team works from a detailed script for every home game. ThunderVision roars to life 90 minutes before tip-off with clips of “Thunder Insider,” the weekly show; updates on the Tulsa 66ers, the Thunder’s D-League team; and various promotional spots with Thunder emcee Katie Kurtz. From the pregame announcements until the final buzzer, ThunderVision entails a dizzying array of elements -- graphics, animation, video clips, music, sound cues, etc. -- humming along with expert timing. Then there are the cameras. Four cameramen in the arena and three remote-operated cameras provide ThunderVision’s eyes and ears. That’s no small task when it comes to capturing everything from a fastbreak to the antics of 18,000-plus cheering fans. “It’s trying to multitask and make sure everybody’s on the same page at the same time,” Hooker explains. “You’ve got to worry about what’s going on in the game and what’s going on away from the play. I’m looking at monitors and trying to work with our cameras and trying to look up at the TV cameras we have pulled up (on screen). “If Russell Westbrook makes a big play, we’re getting that camera on our side bench to whip around to get our fans’ reaction. You pull the energy from the fans, from the players. If you get all four cameras going to that one player who made the dunk, you’ve lost that kid who just jumped up pumping his fist or seeing the players on the bench going crazy.” The job of Hooker and his coworkers,


Hooker surveys the screens in front of him to choose which camera to spotlight on the giant scoreboard.

then, is a bit like that of a composer, building crescendos and developing rhythms with the tools at their disposal. But this is a musical composition in which the instruments and melodies keep changing. Unlike many entertainment productions of this scale, the main attraction – the game itself – refuses to go by script. For as much rehearsal that goes into each game, Hooker and the crew must be flexible enough for on-thecuff inspiration. “If the fans are into the game, you’re putting more stuff out there to get them all fired up,” Hooker says. “If they’re not into the game, you’ve got to put more stuff

out there to get them fired up. The fans, ultimately, drive what we’re doing.” McClure, who has been a basketball fan for decades, is among the thousands who appreciate the effort. “I don’t think there’s any question that it does a tremendous amount to get the crowd fired up,” he says. Determining how to do so is a collaborative effort. Throughout the game, Hooker is in constant communication with Thunder Events & Entertainment Director John Leach, who sits at the press table near courtside with P.A. announcer Jim Miller. Leach, the final arbiter of what goes on ThunderVision, says a game’s script is

always a work in progress. “It is our job to recognize opportunities for something topical,” he says. “Barry Switzer may be in the crowd, and so we may get a shot of him and welcome him. Wayne Coyne from the Flaming Lips might be sitting courtside. We may cue up one of his songs and go to him (on camera). Stuff like that isn’t really scripted. We follow a script, but the game dictates the emotions and we have to adjust accordingly.” Adjustments are plentiful during that Thunder vs. Suns game the Sunday before Christmas. CONTINUED ON PAGE 51

...............................................................................................................................................................................................

It is our job to recognize opportunities for something topical. Barry Switzer may be in the crowd, and so we may get a shot of him and welcome him. Wayne Coyne from the Flaming Lips might be sitting courtside. We may cue up one of his songs and go to him (on camera). Stuff like that isn’t really scripted. We follow a script, but the game dictates the emotions and we have to adjust accordingly.” -- John Leach, Director of Thunder Events & Entertainment

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The

of

University

OklahOma

Ranked in the top 10 public universities by the Princeton Review in terms of academic excellence and value to students. Number one in the nation in National Merit Scholars enrolled at a public university.


“OK, 13 White – go 1!” Hooker shouts into his headset. Deciphered, he is telling Camera One’s operator to focus on No. 13 in white, Thunder guard James Harden, who is at the free-throw line. There are lots of opportunities for levity, too. When Phoenix’s Channing Frye racks up a fifth foul, ThunderVision flashes the numeral “5” while blaring the ominous theme music of TV’s old “Dragnet” series: Dumde-dum-dum-dummmm! The biggest surprise occurs during a timeout. It’s been only nine days since a man named Robert Yanders won $20,000 from MidFirst Bank for making a halfcourt shot. Needless to say, no one in the control room is expecting that to happen again anytime soon. But then Todd Lafferty, a Kansas schoolteacher whose wife is pregnant with the couple’s first child, nails the shot. And a packed arena roars with astonishment. The control room crew is just as excited as the fans. Hooker laughs and tells his senior production assistant, Tara Fitzpatrick, “Tara, remind me later that we need to make that ‘$20,000 winner’ graphic.” Tim Higgins, the production manager, doesn’t miss a beat. “If you make it, it won’t happen again.” Jason Clark, the technical director, shakes his head at what he’s just seen. “That’s crazy.” “No,” pipes in Higgins. “That is awesome.”

Spotted! A ThunderVision cameraman finds a couple in the crowd for the popular Love’s Kiss Cam promotion. Their image, and others, appears on the multiple screens in front of Hooker, who then selects which couples will appear on the scoreboard.

Kissing Up Some of the most popular bits on ThunderVision happen to be the most impossible to script. Love’s Kiss Cam, in which couples and loved ones in the arena smooch for the jumbotron, is a fan favorite. Always accompanied by a fun, jaunty song, the Kiss Cam spotlights everything from playfully passionate embraces to pecks on the cheek. It’s even featured a marriage proposal (fortunately, the woman said “yes”). Hooker says four cameras have the task of capturing kissing couples. “Pretty much it’s those four cameras bouncing back and forth between couples,” he adds. “Every once in a while, we get a shot from the overhead cam.” It’s not so easy. Occasionally a camera operator has guessed wrong about who might be a couple. “There’s been a couple

of mishaps,” Hooker says with a sheepish grin, “where the guy and girl look at each other and say, ‘Huh?’”

51


There are multiple camera angles and images to choose from in mission control.

While most fans are willing to lock lips for the jumbotron, ThunderVision sometimes comes across less-obliging folks. In those situations, Hooker might coax the reluctant pair by cutting away to other lovebirds before finally returning the bashful couple to the camera’s glare. “Usually, by the third time, they’ll do a kiss on the cheek or something like that, and then the crowd goes crazy,” Hooker says.

Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign MidFirst Bank’s “Show Me the Money” promotion is another fan favorite, giving Thunder loyalists a chance to strut their creative side by competing for the best sign of the game and going home with $200. It also takes a fair amount of creativity for a limited number of cameras to showcase the most interesting signs.

Hooker says much of the responsibility is shouldered by a wireless camera operator who roams the arena, “He’s looking around all the time to see where there’s a good sign,” says the ThunderVision director. “A lot of times he’ll see something and say there’s a sign in Section 106 we need to pick up. He’ll relay it to me and I’ll relay it to the

..............................................................................................................................

Hooker has had to put the kibosh on some signs that, while nicely done, perhaps tested the sense of sportsmanship that is central to the philosophy of the Thunder organization.

52

camera guys.” Still, there are other challenges. At any Thunder game, you’re going to see scores of creative, smart and funny homemade signs. But that doesn’t mean they’re guaranteed to make the jumbotron. Hooker has had to put the kibosh on some signs that, while nicely done, perhaps tested the sense of sportsmanship that is central to the philosophy of the Thunder organization. Logistics can be an issue, too. “Some days, it’s simply because you got a camera guy looking through a small lens on his camera,” Hooker says. “Or if Camera 1 has three good signs over here and Camera 3 has a couple of signs over there, and you’ve got a good sign but you’re back behind Camera 2, you might be out of luck.”


ALEXIS

ASHLEY

BONNIE

BRITTANY

BROOKE

HAYLEY

HELEN

JADA

JESSICA

KELSEY

KELSEY

KODIE

LATESHIA

LIL

MARISA

RIANE

SHEREKA

SHERI

SHONNA

For information on your Thunder Girls or to schedule an appearance, please visit

THuNDER.NBA.COM

TwITTER.COM/ THuNDERgIRLS

fACEBOOK.COM/ THuNDERgIRLSfANS


’ Services Provided to the

Call to make an appointment today (405) 767-0900 1901 NW Expressway, Suite 2067 OKC, OK 73118 Upper Level Penn Square Mall


W h at i s t h e t h u n d e r K i d s C l u b ? A unique way for kids, ages 4-14, to be part of the Thunder experience 2011 MeMbership benefits • 2011 edition Rumble bobblehead • The Story of Rumble the Bison • Rumble hat • Thunder lunch bag • Membership card • Kids Club lanyard • Complimentary Thunder home game ticket • Invitation to the Thunder Kids Club spring event with player appearances additional benefits • 20% on Rumble appearances, Thunder dance clinic and youth basketball camps • 10% discount on regularly priced youth merchandise at the Thunder Shop • Discounted admission at White Water Bay and Frontier City • Free admission at Science Museum Oklahoma every Tuesday (*with a paid adult admission) E-mail KidsClub@thunder-nba.CoM for more information on purchasing your membership.

thunder.nba.CoM


1

SCENE Thunder games and events often are the place to be in Oklahoma City. And we have the pictures to prove it. From the faces in the crowd to the games themselves; from the national halftime acts that perform in the arena to the hijinks of our Thunder entertainers; our photographers keep a lens (or two) on their surroundings. Enjoy.

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(1) Army privates from Fort Sill rise from their seats as the spotlights and cameras find them during the Thunder’s game against the New Jersey Nets on Dec. 29, 2010. The Thunder hosted the 250 privates who were unable to go home for the holidays. “We are very pleased that we were able to give them a chance to come and enjoy a Thunder game during their holiday break,” Thunder VP Dan Mahoney said. (2) The Thunder-Houston Rockets game proves to be a real “nail-biter” for Xavier Huestis. (3) Get up and dance!

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(4) Neely Howard and her son Bobby share their thoughts on the call.

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(1) Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are interviewed by TNT sideline reporter Craig Sager following the Thunder’s nationally-televised victory over the Orlando Magic on Jan. 13.

(2) Dallas Mavericks Assistant Coach Dwayne Casey makes his case during the Mavs’ visit to OKC Arena on Dec. 27.

(3) Oklahoma football Coach Bob Stoops takes in a Thunder game with his twin sons, Isaac and Drake.

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(4) Oklahoma City Police Officer Katie Lawson is recognized as the Devon Community Hero. Joining her on the court are (l-r) Dan Mahoney, Thunder Vice President of Corporate Communications and Community Relations; Jeremy Humphers, Devon Vice President of Financial Accounting; and Bill Citty, OKC Police Chief.

(5) For one night, halftime was for the dogs.

(6) “Rubber Boy” displays his body-bending routine during halftime of the Dec. 27 game against Dallas.

(7) Assistant Chief Dean McFadden of the Guymon Fire Department leads his Color Guard group prior to the start of the Jan. 22 game vs. New York.

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5

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(1) Thunder games often make you want to get up and dance! (2) TNT commentator and NBA Hall of Fame nominee Reggie Miller (center) and TNT play-by-play man Kevin Harlan call the action during the Thunder-Magic game on Jan. 13. (3) Todd Lafferty holds a $20,000 check from MidFirst Bank after nailing the halfcourt shot on Dec. 19. Lafferty was the second contestant to make the shot in a week.

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(4) Serge Ibaka, Jeff Green and James Harden take the court. 4

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8 (5) Half-court shot? No problem for Rumble. In fact, our favorite Bison does it backwards! (6) Now hear this: GO THUNDER! (7) Mini-Bison on the loose! 6

(8) Arena usher Torrey Purvey stands tall as the Thunder Girls perform during a time out.

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Grocery Shopping,

Thunder

Style

Thunder players and Homeland stores have teamed up to help families in need stock their pantries and shelves with food. Kevin Durant, Byron Mullens, Morris Peterson and Thabo Sefolosha each have taken families on $500 grocery shopping sprees this season at metro area Homeland stores, and Jeff Green will do the same in the coming weeks. After checking out and posing for pictures, the players take the day to remember one step further by presenting each family with an additional $500 gift card for future use.

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t H U N D e R YO U t H B a s k e t B a l l RUMBle MiNi-DRiBBleRs CaMP campers meet once per week for four weeks to learn a dribbling routine. Rumble is scheduled to appear one night of the program to practice with the kids. program will conclude with all participants performing a dribbling routine with Rumble on-court on friday, march 18, 2011, at 7pm when the oklahoma city thunder takes on the charlotte bobcats. *Boys & Girls Kindergarten-3rd grade.

e v e R Y t U e s D aY N i g H t f e B . 2 2 - M a R .1 5 from 5pm-6pm, $100 Jackie cooper Gym 1024 East main st. yukon, ok 73099

e v e R Y t H U R s D aY N i g H t f e B .1 7- M a R .1 0 from 6:30pm-7:30pm, $100 casady school 9500 north pennsylvania oklahoma city, ok 73120

e v e R Y M O N D aY N i g H t f e B . 2 1 - M a R .1 4 from 6:30-7:30pm, $100 mustang town center Gym 1201 north mustang Road mustang, ok 73064

t H U N D e R YO U t H B a s k e t B a l l sPRiNg BReak CaMP presented by

this camp will focus on the fundamentals of basketball, along with an emphasis on key character lessons of teamwork, sportsmanship and respect.

M a R .1 4 - M a R .1 8 9am- 1pm, $165 santa fe family life center 6300 n santa fe oklahoma city, ok 73118

<<< thE camp day will bE ExtEndEd on maR. 17th to accommodatE thE schEdulEd appEaRancE by Jeff gReeN.

includes Thunder YouTh BaskeTBall T-shirT and a TickeT To an upcoming Thunder game

R e g i s t e R at

tHUNDeR.NBa.COM

*

REcEivE a 20% d i s co u n t i f yo u aRE a sEason tickEt mEmbER oR a kids club mEmbER


(1) Campers get together for a collective chant before breaking into their groups. (2) James Harden gives some words of encouragement as well as instruction during a huddle-up with his crew.

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(3) Rumble the Bison runs his mini-dribblers campers through a dribbling drill.

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(4) Byron Mullens lines up a camper for position during a free throw.

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THUNDER

CAMPS STRESS ‘FUN’-DAMENTALS

The new year brings a new schedule of Thunder Youth Basketball! It’s our way to bring the fun and excitement of Thunder Basketball to boys and girls throughout the area while also emphasizing physical fitness, teamwork, commitment and other lessons. Hundreds of kids have participated in our camps and we have plenty of future opportunities. Several Rumble Mini-Dribbler Camps are scheduled in February and March and our Spring Break Camp is set for March 14-18 with a scheduled appearance from Thunder forward Jeff Green. Campers receive T-shirts, balls and even game tickets. To learn more about Thunder Youth Basketball, register for upcoming camps and see photos and videos from previous camps visit the community tab of THUNDER.NBA.COM.

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(5) Cole Aldrich and Daequan Cook take two campers for a ride to the basket. (6) Eric Maynor plays defense during a camp visit. (7) Serge Ibaka takes a seat on the bench during a end-of-day scrimmage. (8) Royal Ivey exchanges high-fives with campers waiting their turn in the lay-up drill line.

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Future NBA coach in training? Five-yearold Ethan Holliday certainly has the passion as he cheers on the Thunder vs. the New York Knicks on Jan. 22. Photo by RICHARD A. ROWE / THUNDER PHOTO

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Thunder Magazine | Vol. 3 Issue 3