Paris Lawson | Broadcast and Digital Reporter | okcthunder.com
Thunder Celebrates Milestone Court
When Lu Dort stepped foot on the Thunder’s newest outdoor court in lower Scissortail Park for the first time, one word came to his mind – beautiful.
The bright blue double court features brand-new clear backboards and freshly painted Thunder logos at center court. However, the shining feature of the new courts is the picturesque downtown Oklahoma City skyline that is perfectly framed on the north side of the courts – the type of court that Dort would have loved growing up in Montréal-Nord in Canada.
“I would’ve been here every day,” said Dort. “That’s how much I love the park. I used to go to a court like that near my house, so I would’ve been there every day.”’
Now as a member of the Thunder, Dort gets to help cut the ribbon on these types of courts that kids like him will use for years to come.
Dort, along with rookie Chet Holmgren and two-way guard Lindy Waters III took part in the ribbon-cutting festivities for the Thunder and Devon Energy’s brand-new Thunder Cares Community basketball court in the newly established lower Scissortail Park. The ribbon-cutting marked the 30th Thunder Cares court in the team’s 14 years in Oklahoma City.
With courts that span across nearly all four corners of the state from Boise City to Altus and McAlester, it made sense that the Thunder’s 30th court would be right in its backyard just a stone’s throw from Paycom Center.
“To have the opportunity to build this court right here in our backyard going into our 15th season with our 30th court, it’s so exciting,” said Christine Berney, vice president of community engagement for the Thunder. “It just feels like it's come full circle and come back home. We’ve done courts all over the state and we've done a lot in Oklahoma City as well. This one feels super special for all those reasons.”
The courts not only served as a milestone in the Thunder’s community efforts, but also as a reminder of the connection between the Thunder, civic leaders and the community that has been established over the team’s tenure. The courts reside in lower Scissortail park which is part of OKC’s MAPS project. It was over a year in the making for the courts to come to fruition and took the collaboration between the Thunder, the city, Scissortail Park and Devon Energy to make it all possible.
“It's truly a group effort and just shows the commitment and the relationships that the Thunder has built over the years,” said Berney. “This is important to us and we want to do what we can do to be part of this community and show this community how much we care.”
Once the ribbon hit the floor and the court was officially opened to the public, the music cranked up and the festivities began. First up, the Thunder hosted a youth basketball clinic for a group of young kids from the YMCA. Waters and Dort bounced from station to station offering their encouragement and even joining in on the drills.
“We're really big on giving back to the community,” said Dort. “It was tough these past two years because of COVID but now that almost everything is back to normal, we can get back to it and give back.”
Holmgren was posted at the sign-making station on the opposite end of the court. With markers, stencils and papers strewn across the table, the rookie helped young fans craft their very own Thunder sign and even signed a few autographs along the way.
It was an afternoon filled with meaning from start to finish. Hitting the milestone of 30 courts dedicated in Oklahoma; dedicating the court right next door in Scissortail Park; having players join in on the fun with young fans from across the metro. It was a beautiful way to kick off the 15th season of Thunder basketball in Oklahoma City.
“It definitely feels like a jumpstart to the season,” said Berney. “Training Camp is right around the corner and to finally have the players back with us for things like this, it just makes it extra special.”