By Michael Kinney
The Oklahoma City Thunder have always been one of the most community-minded franchises in the NBA. Since they arrived in Oklahoma, officials have pledged to be deeply involved with the people who make up their community.
Throughout last week the Thunder took part in several activities with local organizations and groups. From Nick Collision and Josh Huestis visiting a veterans affairs center to Paul George taking kids fishing to Russell Westbrook holding his annual Thanksgiving celebration.
It all culminated Saturday night with the Oklahoma City Thunder, including all players, coaches, entertainers and staff, hosting 80 kids from the Norman Boys and Girls Club.
The team hosted its Night at the Arena as part of its 10th annual Holiday Assist, at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
The kids were treated to dinner served by the players and coaches, followed by a carnival on the Thunder court where the kids and players played games, got their faces painted and even tried out a T-shirt cannon and Rumble’s drum.
“We are sitting here with kids from Boys Club of Norman. Talking about Thanksgiving, talking about their favorite food. Having a blast,” Josh Huestis said. “Really nice to be able to come here and have a good time with these kids and just talk to them. It’s really, really rewarding
The Thunder didn’t stand back and just watch the kids from the boys and girls club enjoy themselves. They jumped in head first and interested with them.
From teaching basketball drills to painting faces, the Thunder didn’t hold back any enthusiasm.
“Just being a part of the community, being a part of the future, being a part of the youth, intersecting with them,” George said, “being somebody they see on TV that they can intersect with.”
The holidays can be a rough time for many children around the state. And the Night at the Arena is just one way the Thunder are trying to make memorable time for as many kids as they can.
“They have been having a blast ever since we got on the bus,” said Vernon Hooks, the Norman Boys and Girls Club Unit Director All week long they have been talking about it. Once they got here and saw the Thunder players, it was surreal. They were able to just have a blast with them.”