Sunday, February 22, 2009

Rumble the Bison's Big Debut

The new mascot for the OKC Thunder is Rumble the Bison. The anticipation is now over and Rumble is doing a great job of introducing himself to the area. We were at the Ford Center until after midnight last Monday rehersing the halftime introduction.

We all thought that Rumble's unveiling was going to be the news of the day on Tuesday but instead another basketball story gave it a run for that title. Earlier in the day the Thunder pulled off a trade with the Hornets to get Tyson Chandler. Chandler was with the Hornets when they played in OKC for a couple of years and was a huge fan favorite. He has also been on record as saying how much he enjoyed playing in OKC so the fans were very excited about the move. Long story short, Chandler failed the physical the next day (he hasn't played lately due to an injury and apparently there were some concerns) and the trade was rescinded however for one day he was a member of the Thunder and stole some of Rumble's.........Thunder.

At halftime Rumble climbed onto a platform up in the rafters and was lowered onto the court while playing his drums. I never touched the court on Opening Night so I missed out on a lot of the excitement that went on before the game started however I was involved on this one and it was an experience that sent a chill down my spine. We had a full house on Tuesday and hardly anyone left their seats when Rumble entered for the first time and the crowd went nuts as Rumble descinded from high above.

As soon as Rumble landed on the court he trailed our dunk team's train down the court and attempted his first dunk. Unfortunately he didn't make it but it was still exciting. He then ran out to center court and performed a dance routine with the Thunder Girls before coming back over to the basket where a few of us had set up a 16 foot ladder from where he attempted a flip dunk. There is a high degree of difficulty on this dunk and he missed that one as well but it was close and still very impressive. The fans went nuts again and Rumble's entrance was a success even if the inital dunks weren't.

We also had a poster that we distributed of Rumble as fans were leaving. The poster distribution wasn't as smooth as it could have been as I didn't get all of the posters out to the tables as quickly as I should have but we still got them there in the end and gave away close to 15,000 which is unbelieveable for a post game giveaway (my Seattle experiences are that most people are in a hurry to get home or want to beat traffic and usually only about 50-60% of the fans will take the time to grab a poster as they exit the arena). For the record, Chris Paul made a basket with less than 2 seconds to go in the game and the Hornets beat the Thunder by two despite Kevin Durant's 47 points.
The attention that Rumble received the following day was unbelieveable. He made live appearances on every morning news show and was the talk of the town (my sister pointed out to me that it doesn't take much to be the talk of the town in OKC but I think that is part of the mystic of a smaller community). He was even all over ESPN and ESPN2. We was the #9 Play of the Day on SportsCenter and got talked about on all of the ESPN talkshows (FirstTake, Around the Horn, Pardon the Interruption, etc). The one negative was that some of the guys on the local OKC sports radio show were talking about him later that afternoon and decided that it was funny to mention the person inside the costume by name about a half dozen times over a 5 minute window. That person of course is my friend so I called him up right away and told him what was going on. He immediately called our Community Relations Department who had already heard it themselves and called the Program Director of the station to ask them to stop.

Friday night Rumble came out to Buffalo Wild Wings where the team was having a viewing party for our road game against Phoenix. Rumble again was outstanding and I finally found time to get my picture taken with him as well as pics of him signing a pennant on the top of a kid's head and posing for pictures with kids. I've included the pictures on here.

Tomorrow we are being offered a chance to go through a Tornado Prepardness course at work. I definitely showed that I need it after my first tornado two weeks ago so I will be there and will be paying close attention.

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