Tulsans love the Thunder
At the risk of writing the exact same column as last year at this time, I just can’t get over how much Tulsa basketball fans love the Oklahoma City Thunder. So if this sounds familiar, maybe there’s a good reason.
Last Thursday night I was one of the 17,778 in the near capacity crowd at the BOK Center to watch the Thunder take on the New Orleans Pelicans in a preseason exhibition game. New Orleans won the game, 105-102.
For several years now the Thunder have played a preseason game in Tulsa and it’s this way every year; a near sellout, with a loud, enthusiastic audience.
The crowd was very knowledgeable of the team and its players and most of the fans were wearing Thunder clothing or hats. During the pregame introductions, you could sure tell that the crowd favorite is Kevin Durant. The place erupted with cheers when he was introduced.
I couldn’t help but sit there and think, “If only the NBA would let the Thunder play a handful of regular season games in Tulsa every one of them would be sold out. Why not bring the not so popular opponents to Tulsa?”
Think about it – many fans from Tulsa already drive to Oklahoma City to see Los Angeles, Miami, Dallas, Chicago, etc. But if Oklahoma City played Sacramento, Cleveland, Charlotte and the like, in Tulsa, these games that wouldn’t be sellouts in Oklahoma City would sell out here. They could even be on a Tuesday or Thursday night and the crowd would still show up.
Why this hasn’t been allowed yet is beyond me. It’s obvious the Oklahoma City Thunder has become the entire state’s team. The affiliation with the Tulsa 66ers is huge, but just imagine how awesome it would be if the Thunder actually played five or six games each season in the BOK Center.
If Tulsa had an opportunity to prove itself as a major league city, who knows what could be next. I recently heard that Tulsa is No. 20 on a list of potential NHL cities. That’s a joke. I think Tulsa should be a lot higher on the list. So here’s an idea – Tulsa could be home to an NHL franchise and draw fans from all over the state, including Oklahoma City, and Oklahoma City can continue to draw Tulsa fans for the Thunder games.
I think that would be more than amicable and would be very well supported by sports fans throughout the state.
OILERS KEEP SHOOTING
The Tulsa Oilers lost to the Denver Cutthroats Saturday night, 3-2, in overtime. That in itself is not earth shattering, but the fact the game went 18-rounds into a shootout is note worthy.
It is believed there has never been a shootout in the Central Hockey League to go 18 rounds, so this may be a record, however, it can not be confirmed by the league, only that it hasn’t happened in the past 10 years.
In the four seasons that I was broadcasting Oilers’ games I don’t remember a game going longer than 12 rounds (1992-93, 1999-2002)
The longest shootout ever in the NHL was 15 rounds – the New York Rangers against the Washington Capitals on Nov. 26, 2005. That record was matched this year during a preseason game between Buffalo and Toronto.
The Oilers will play their first home game of the season this Saturday at 7:25 p.m. against the Allen Americans. The same two teams will play again at 4:05 p.m. on Sunday, at the BOK Center.
[Jeff Brucculeri is freelance writer and broadcaster. Follow him on Twitter @JeffBrucculeri. Contact; email@example.com.]