Thunder-Heat Game 2 in Oklahoma City: The Diary
Posted on June 16, 2012 by ChuckTaylor
What a roller coaster of emotions.
A brilliant LeBron James and his Miami Heat evened up the series last night and treated Thunder fans to their first home loss of the playoffs this year. Say what you will about the no-call on LeBron in the dying seconds, the Thunder had no business winning that game anyway. But still, the Durant led comeback almost culminated in what would have been a special NBA Finals Overtime and I can’t help but feel like we should have had one.
I got to the stadium 4 hours before tip-off. After the experience of Game 1 I had ants in my pants so I decided to get there early and down some $2 Bud Lights in Thunder Alley. To kill time, I chatted to numerous OKC locals about all things Thunder, Oklahoma City and why the fuck I came all the way here from Australia. We got pretty loose. It was too hot to do anything else. There was so much excitement and anticipation in the air after such a great start to the series by the Thunder. Everyone was ready and hoping for another special night. An hour before tip-off I entered the arena because I found out that you could head court side before the game to watch the players warm up. If there was the slightest possibility of me being able to touch James Harden’s beard, I was gonna take advantage. Sadly it was only Fisher and Thabo getting their reps in so after I took in the coolness of being court side, I could only think of all the different ways I’d like to hurt Derek Fisher. God I hate that guy. Doesn’t seem to matter that he left the Lakers. He’s still my mortal enemy. Not even the beautiful temptress that is the Oklahoma City Thunder can sway my feelings about that guy.
Now that I was a grizzled veteran of going to TWO finals games, I thought it would lose a bit of shine but when the pre-game introductions began, I was just as giddy as my first time. It’s the finals baby. Shortly after tip-off the electric crowd got quiet in a hurry and very restless as the Heat raced away to an 18-2 lead. Fuck, not again. The crowd was on edge. Harden subbed in for some much needed offence off the bench and that got the crowd going, but not his teammates. The first 3 quarters were so rough on the crowd. After the shock wore off from the gigantic Heat lead, the poor shooting Thunder somehow kept showing flashes of game and keeping us all believing that a run was on the way but for 3 quarters it didn’t happen. The Thunder were running out of time and everyone in the house knew it. An 11-point deficit going into the 4th quarter wasn’t insurmountable so the crowd was positive but the first 3 minutes of that 4th quarter, according to the 18,000 strong unbiased crowd, featured horrendous refereeing decisions that kept the Thunder out of the game. People were losing it. I swear to god the guy next to me burst a blood vessel. The crowd was livid. There was so much energy in the crowd once again but it was very negative.
Then, just like that, Durant three ball. Boom. Durant, dunk on Battier. Boom. Durantula reeled off 5 quick points, the deficit was back to 8 and Tuesday’s crowd was back in the house. They instantly converted all that negative energy into blistering loud cheers. Amazing. We had a game on our hands. Every Durant basket and that Battier blocking call was a gift to the Thunder fans and they appreciated the hell out of it because KD had 5 fouls and could have been tossed at any moment. Not to mention that play with about 5 minutes to go, Westbrook got that fast break layup 3 point play that LeBron got charged a foul on… Oklahoma City officials had to send out a search party for the roof. It was gone.
But a couple of heads up Heat plays, including that ridiculous Battier bank 3 pointer, solid play by Bosh and that clutch LeBron jumper had the Thunder toast with a minute to go. The Thunder didn’t complete their comeback. The crowd fell flat. The always positive “Loud CIty” were thinking about Game 3. I had conceded to my brother the Heat fan via text, “Game”. “Don’t do that voodoo mumbo jumbo” was the response. I wish I had the power. I don’t, but Durant does. And it seemed like in a matter of seconds, a couple massive plays and a huge Durant 3 pointer later, we were back in it! The crowd did the appropriate thing and lost it’s shit. Thunder ball, 12 seconds left, down 2. Not a soul in the building seemed to doubt that the Thunder could pull this off. I was picturing in my head the 700 different ways Durant will make this shot for us. Not the 700 ways it could go wrong or that a ref could fuck a call up. That joy and excitement and anticipation reverted back to that anger when the replays showed what 18,000 fans thought was clearly a foul on LeBron. Then there was hope, LeBron was notoriously bad on the free throw line previously. Nope. 2 from 2. Then everyone realised they were watching the LeBron we all wanted him to be. Game over. Sadness. It was a quiet walk down the Chesapeake Arena stairs. Then, as thousands streamed out it’s doors this little old lady started an “O-K-C” chant. Within 10 seconds everybody was was joining in. They know it’s going to be a long series. They believe. They don’t just hope that the Thunder can steal one in Miami. They believe it… and that’s what I love about this crowd.
Excitement, anticipation, shock, disappointment, anger, surprise, joy, happiness, hope, sadness, belief. Like I said, what an emotional roller coaster.
Thank you Oklahoma City. You’ve been great.