The Lakers take on the Oklahoma City Thunder Tuesday night at the Chesapeake Energy Arena, a 586,000 square foot center, which hasn’t produced a win for the Lakers in five straight games (including last year’s playoffs).
With the capability of seating over 18,000 of OKC’s rowdiest and loudest fans, there’s a valid reason for it’s “Loud City” nickname. Harboring one of the best NBA home records in the league this season (26-4), including 18 consecutive wins against West teams, there’s an appropriate explanation for why Kobe Bryant says Oklahoma City just might have the best crowd in The Association.
“They probably have the best crowd in the league. Their crowd is incredible.” – Kobe
So how could Kobe Bryant, the ultimate bleeder of purple and gold, possibly believe the Thunder has a better crowd than the Lakers? The Lakers have a 950,000 square foot arena, Los Angeles, Hollywood, skyscrapers, celebrities, the highest average ticket price in the league, the most popular merchandise among all NBA teams, Jack Nicholson, Kobe Bryant (who also happens to have the most popular jersey) and have sold out every single home game since the 2007-2008 season.
What more could there be? How could the crowd in Oklahoma City possibly be better than the crowd at home in Los Angeles? Remember, a teams’ general fan base is not synonymous with the type of crowd it garners to their home court. The focus here is more specifically on OKC’s incredible crowd, and Steve Nash shed light on this perception at Lakers practice Monday afternoon, before they headed to Oklahoma City.
“It’s the only professional team in town so they get the fans undivided attention and intensity, and it makes for a great arena in the NBA.” – Steve Nash
Undivided attention and intensity. No distractions. No celebs in 8-inch stilettos. No band-wagon fans. No Jack Nicholson. No championship banners. No chance of the perfectly polished wooden basketball floor flipping from Lakers to Clippers in just a couple hours time. Pure attention – the trigger to the “Loud City” creation, in which even opponents, like Dwight Howard find it fun to be a part of.
“It’s not tough. It’s fun.” – Dwight Howard
Howard then reminisced and laughed about a fan in Oklahoma City who as he remembers made a distinct, high-pitched cry, similar to that of Xena, the Warrior Princess, whenever the opposing team shot free throws (video of Dwight’s impersonation here). He also said he hasn’t heard her in awhile, but that could just be wishful thinking in preparation for tonight’s game.
Whether or not Xena, the triple-lunged warrior from behind the basket makes an appearance with Dwight Howard at the free throw line tonight, one thing’s for sure. There’s no denying the thunderous intensity that embodies Chesapeake Energy Arena, even if head coach Mike D’Antoni didn’t want to draw attention to their crowd, arena or fan base.
“The hardest thing is playing against OKC…I could pick out a couple teams and put ’em in that arena and it wouldn’t be the same.”
Those might actually be the most factual words I’ve heard D’Antoni grumpily mutter to me all season.
Lakers Practice Video: Kobe on OKC having the best crowd, his diet, dunking on Dwight and more