For the record, I’d like to address briefly the shootings that followed Monday night’s NBA game in Oklahoma City. Eight people were shot on the street in a downtown area where I’ve been many times, although only reluctantly after dark. More to the point, two of my siblings and their families were at the game that night. I could only hope they were among those who left immediately for home after the game rather than mill around and move toward nearby Bricktown, a renovated warehouse district that has always been a “bad” part of town, despite what the city has tried to do to make it a tourist attraction with restaurants and clubs. Despite that, it remains a typical downtown where going half a block down the wrong street could put you in big trouble.
A lot of media reports made it sound as though the shootings were outside the arena immediately after the game. Not so. My sister said they were home in bed before the shootings occurred more than an hour after the game and some blocks away from the arena. (She referenced “Oklahoma City shootings shut down Thunder Alley watch parties” as an accurate account.) It’s also possible that she was just trying to reassure me.
As my son and I had theorized, the trouble originated in “Thunder Alley,” an area outside the arena where as many as 7,000 people had gathered to watch the game on a giant video screen. A lot of non-fans were hanging around looking for trouble and apparently found it. Family friends there reported feeling “unsafe” and leaving at the end of the game’s third period.
Understandably the city is re-evaluating its options for the upcoming series with the Spurs, but Thunder Alley will be closed. What a shame that a few have spoiled the fun for so many. My son says it’s the “NBA culture.” All I know is it’s my old hometown, with problems it never had before. Is this the inevitable result of hitting the big time and finally getting a national professional sports franchise? If so, I think I’d prefer the “sleepy cowtown” my mom used to grouse about.
- Bricktown merchants, property owners in Oklahoma City say changes needed with Thunder Alley festivities (newsok.com)
- Team: Games will no longer be shown at Thunder Alley (koco.com)
- NBA Playoffs: Shootings “kill” Thunder Alley vibe (jarrodpeterson4.wordpress.com)
- Thunder fans crowd Thunder Alley (kfor.com)
- After shootings, officials consider eliminating watch party in Thunder Alley (newsok.com)
- Police make two arrests in Oklahoma City shooting after Thunder game (newsok.com)