The Oklahoma City Thunder has been a staple of the Oklahoma City community since their arrival in 2008. As the Thunder tip off their 2022-2023 season, students around campus are eager for the team to be back in action.
Native Oklahoman students around campus said the Thunder provide a sense of community to the Oklahoma City area. Being the only professional sports team in the state, they are something every Oklahoman can get behind.
Senior Nathan Kwan has lived in the Oklahoma City metro his entire life and has seen what the Thunder has done for the city.
“They are a big deal here, especially when they are good,” Kwan said. “If you are from Oklahoma, you are a Thunder fan, and it shows during the season.”
Joshua Grizzell from Colorado Springs, CO, saw what the Thunder meant to the area the moment he arrived.
“I always thought of the Thunder as a small organization with not a lot of fans who really cared about basketball,” Grizzell said. “I obviously was wrong, they really love Thunder basketball here on [Oklahoma Christian] campus.”
Despite a losing record of 24-58 last season, the Thunder had an average game attendance of over 15,000 people.
“We love this team and show support no matter what,” Kwan said. “But when they are good and making the playoffs is when the passion shows.”
Going into this season, the Thunder host one of the youngest teams in the NBA with an average age on the roster being 23 years old. The most experienced players, Kenrich Williams and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, are in their fourth years in the NBA.
“We have been trying to get back to where we were when [Kevin] Durant and [Russell] Westbrook were here,” Kwan said. “It’s going to be exciting what the young guys look like this year.”
However, Thunder fans will have to wait to see top draft pick, Chet Holmgren, as he injured his foot during pre-season. Holmgren will be out for the entire 2022-2023 season.
Sophomore Hunter Jones is tempering his expectations for the season and is just looking forward to the team’s future.
“We’re not necessarily going to be a winning team this season,” Jones said. “But I think we can make strides and be an exciting team to watch.”
So far, Oklahoma City is 1-3 to start the season.
Fans are watching this season for the future of Thunder basketball, hoping for an unforgettable season.
“[It’s] not surprising to be honest,” Jones said. “We have players we can get behind, pull for and dream [with about] how the future is going to look.”