The NBA Finals will put Oklahoma City on a national stage in a way that the city has rarely been in. Oklahoma City, after all, has only one sports team and it has not had it that long.
And this is a great thing for a growing city.
The Thunder are a source of civic pride. Chesapeake Energy Arena is quite possibly the loudest stadium in the NBA. A unique home court advantage that better resembles Cameron Indoor Stadium or a college stadium with adoring students than the sometimes staid and corporate feeling in many NBA arenas.
If there is a reason to believe the Thunder can win the Finals, one of them has to be how difficult it will be for the Heat to get just one win in Oklahoma City.
Fortunately, for the Heat, they might have the NBA on their side to help lower the decibel level some points as Patrick James of Daily Thunder writes:
Some of you probably noticed part of a section in Loud City was converted into overflow media space for the Western Conference finals this season and last. That's part of the deal the NBA has with the teams and arenas -- every arena has to make that space available, even if it isn't used by the media or league, though the team can make it available to fans at the last minute if it isn't. Well, that space is even bigger for the Finals, with more Loud City real estate going to the league, displacing some season ticket members. The team offered roughly equivalent seats in other parts of the arena to those ticket holders, and for free. Under the circumstances, that's about as good of a response to a tricky customer relations issue imposed by a league requirement as you can manage. Just part of the deal if your team advances to the NBA's grandest stage.
Yes, some of the league's loudest fans have been replaced with media members. This may not have an overall effect on noise -- there will still be a few more people in the stadium screaming their heads off -- but it is a few less and highlights the changes that happen when the NBA Finals come to town.
As James describes it: "If you have something you think is yours in June in downtown Oklahoma City when the Thunder make it to the Finals, it's not really yours unless the NBA and its partners say it isn't theirs."
Yes, the NBA rules and it is turning the mid-market town on its head some in preparation for the NBA Finals. Everything is getting a makeover as the NBA invades with the large media horde and everything else that comes with the Finals festivities.
I hope you did not book a trip to Oklahoma City beforehand, there are reports that downtown hotels in Oklahoma City are kicking out people who had made reservations before the NBA Finals in order to satisfy the NBA and media's needs.
It is the unfortunate side effect of hosting the NBA Finals and one of the NBA's major corporate events.
One of the Thunder's charms is not only the fact the team is incredibly likeable, but also because the fans are a throwback to a different age of NBA fan. One that actually cares about the game. The Finals are not necessarily about that. Even with Oklahoma City trying, the NBA is going to take some of that innocence away. Who knows if the TV audience will notice a few hundred voices silenced for media seating.
As James notes a lot is going to change about the Thunder franchise because of this Finals appearance. For the next two weeks, Oklahoma City is going to change too.
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