Today is game two of the NBA Championship series between the Miami Heat and the OKC Thunder. Now, I enjoy basketball and I am thrilled that our team is doing well; but I love my city. I am passionate about my home. I am so very proud that Oklahoma City now has a professional sports team. It has put our city on the map internationally. So I just wanted to take a moment to explain why Oklahomans are have such a sense of pride and community.
One first needs to understands that Oklahoma City is a smaller metropolitan area with sprawling suburban communities. Everyone in the state refers to Oklahoma City as, simply, “the city.” If I am in the state and am asked where I live my response would be, “the city” even though I actually live in a suburb. To Oklahomans, OKC is the North Star on our internal compass.
The obvious and most significant event that transpired is the Alfred P. Murrah bombing. It remains a brutal case of home grown terrorism that is stuck in our craw. Seventeen years later we still miss the loved ones we lost, we sill cry over innocence lost and we will always carry that scar like a badge of honor. We want visitors and newcomers to understand what this event did to us. Not because we want to remind them of the evil this world can bring, but because we want them to understand the sense of solidarity, the sense of community we felt when this event occurred. You can never be one of us until you have felt our pain with us.
The next event that occurred is the May 1999 tornado. It left disaster areas in 17 counties and caused untold damage. My community came together to help everyone in need. Oklahomans took in their friends and neighbors, we donated our money and our time to help those in need. The news stations would broadcast a need for water or blankets. Within a few hours they indicate that the previous need had been fulfilled and now there was a new need. For days we helped our own with the things they needed. We were a community determined to provide.
Several years later when hurricane Katrina hit, the Superdome was not available for the New Orleans Hornets. Oklahoma opened its then Ford Center and our hearts to the Hornets. While they played here we loved them as if they were our own. We tried to give them a sense of home, because we know what it feels like to be displaced by tragedy. We wanted them to feel a sense of belonging and community even though this was not their home. I met a few of the players since I sold their tickets while they were here. They were grateful that we were so open to receiving them and I am proud of what we were able to do for them. I hope that Oklahoma City is a warm memory during a difficult time for the Hornets and their fans.
It also showed the NBA that we were prepared to support a team. Now I know that there is a ton of controversy around how Oklahoma City came to be the new home of the Seattle Supersonics. But we are just a simple community hoping to make a home a place of pride and comfort. We have accepted the Thunder as our own and are proud of how they represent our home. They are a class act and exemplify the meaning of the word ‘team.’ Durant and Collison were and always will be Sonics. They understand our sense of loss and confusion. I believe that gives them an edge. Within them there is a pain and a hunger to provide a sense of establishment. They want to show to everyone that Oklahoma City is resilient, that we are an unbreakable force, and that we are champions in every sense of the word.