Thunder Fans Line Up for Playoffs Tickets

Angela Chavez will celebrate her birthday Wednesday, but an early gift came Monday morning. That’s when her lottery number was called, allowing her to move to the front of the line at the Ford Center box office.

Having attended most of this season’s Thunder home games, Chavez said there’s no way she was going to miss Game 6 in the NBA Playoffs series pitting the Thunder against the Los Angeles Lakers.

“Our team is awesome,” said the 31-year-old Oklahoma City native, clad in a blue Thunder shirt. “I love our boys. They’re all so humble and they’re all so modest.”

Her voice was a hint raspy. She attributed it to all the shouting she did Saturday at Game 4 when the Thunder beat L.A. to tie the series, 2-2.

Chavez and more than 250 others had lined up outside the Ford Center for a chance to buy tickets to the Friday, April 30, match-up despite fans being encouraged to purchase tickets online.

Tickets went on sale at 10 a.m. Ten minutes later, more than 2,200 tickets had been purchased.

The line snaking around the Ford Center reflected a city electrified with playoff fever. Clusters of fans, decked out in Thunder shirts and hats, sipped coffee or chatted on mobile phones. Many were eager to talk about what brought them here.

“I’m missing practice today,” said Julie Crocker, a 21-year-old student at the University of Central Oklahoma. “I run cross-country, but I told my coach this morning I had to get playoff tickets.”

“I’m skipping work,” added a man standing nearly, grinning. “We’re all missing something.”

One thing not missing was enthusiasm. Oklahoma City resident John Caldwell, 43, said the Thunder players – both on and off the court – have sent community pride soaring.

“There is a great show of pride from everyone in the city,” he said.

“This is historic. Look at what they (the team) did last season and then 50 wins this season, and now they’re playing the defending champions. At one point last game they were up by almost 30 points.”

Like several others in line -- not to mention NBA pundits and observers around the nation -- he credited Thunder fans with a good part of the success.

“They have some serious fans,” he said. “Some places, if you give a T-shirt to a fan, they’ll wrap it around their beer. You give a Thunder shirt to a Thunder fan, they put it on right away.”

Julie Crocker nodded in agreement.

“It’s Oklahoma’s team,” she said. “It’s not like a school thing where it’s about a specific location of a college.”

That prompted Devante Cope, 17, to pipe in to the conversation.

“As a teenager,” he said, “I have to say the Thunder has given kids something to do besides get into trouble.”

Caldwell said city leaders deserve praise for converting the notions of a NBA franchise from dream to reality. “We need to be thankful for people with vision to make this happen” he said. “Otherwise, this place” -- waving a hand at the Ford Center -- “would be a Hostess bakery.”

Brian Harrison had been first in line. The 25-year-old had been dutifully waiting outside the Ford Center since 6:30 a.m.

“I am amazed,” he said about the playoff series to date.

“I knew the Thunder would play well, but I didn’t know they would do this well. It’s good. It’s all good.”

Phil Bacharach is the Director of Corporate Communications for the Thunder.