There is just one Kiwi (New Zealander) currently playing in the NBA, Steven Adams, and he plays for the Oklahoma City Thunder. When we looked into the playing schedule and found we could make it to Oklahoma for the team’s last home game of the season, we knew we had to make the journey.
From Baton Rouge, Louisiana (A) we drove 600 kms north to Tunica, Mississippi (B) for a complimentary nights stay at Horseshoe Tunica Hotel and Casino, thanks again to our Wyndham/Caesars tier matching (click here for our review). As with many of these clusters of casinos, they can be in the middle of nowhere with not too much around them. For the reason we were generally using them, just as a place to sleep on the way through to our greater destination, the location didn’t worry us.The next morning we were up early to try to get on the road before 8.00am as we had 780 kms to drive. Unfortunately the headlights had been left on so we had a flat battery. We talked to the hotel staff and were advised that a staff member starting at 8.00am would be able to help us. So we waited around 20-25 minutes and then we were able to get a jump start. Not the best start to the day but we were on our way to Oklahoma City (C).When first researching into the home games of the Thunder we discovered that tickets were only sold to residents of Oklahoma state and some of the surrounding states, but thankfully we found ‘verified resale tickets’ on the Ticketmaster website. Most of the seats were up towards the back of the arena and on odd angles to the court and because the reseller sets their own pricing on their tickets, some varied wildly in cost. We managed to find some that weren’t too excessive and after taxes we paid $111.56 USD/$159.37 NZD for our four tickets. We didn’t think that was too bad for an NBA fixture.
We arrived at Super 8 by Wyndham Oklahoma Fairgrounds without any further dramas but we had to change rooms three times once there to find one that was suitable. Some of these properties have been hard work to deal with and the staff probably get paid so badly their care factor is often pretty low, but still we solider on to try to keep the accommodation budget in check. See our Wyndham Properties review here.
Since our time in Cambodia (January 2018) Logan has been proudly wearing his OKC Thunder singlet that he found at a market. He couldn’t find a Steven Adams one, (don’t think he has trickled down to SE Asia yet), but he does have Westbrook, a big name within the team. (He actually now no longer plays for the Thunder but did spend the first 12 years of his career there). The singlet has definitely seen better days after it’s huge amount of wear and washing since then, but it’s still the thought that counts. The boys wanted to find some merchandise to wear to the game too, to support “our Kiwi boy”, so we walked to a nearby Target as we knew merchandise sold at the game itself would be far more than our budget would like. As it was nearing the end of the season there weren’t too many options, I couldn’t find something but Lincoln and Braxton both found a tee shirt.
The arena opened 90 minutes before tip off so we went along early to soak up the atmosphere. There was lots going on inside and out, free activities and promotions, it was a fantastic build up.We found our seats up in the rafters and settled in, hopefully to see the Thunder win against the Houston Rockets. There was so much more to the night than just the game, it was a full entertainment package. Lots of music, entertainment and crowd participation during the breaks and time outs. Watching a home game of the only Kiwi in the NBA was so cool and it was an absolute nail-biter. While the Thunder didn’t have the best game and were only ahead a couple of times throughout the night, they were ahead at the end buzzer. Final score 112-111.
Tip off was 8.30pm and it was after midnight by the time we got to bed, plus we had a 6.00am alarm set as we had a very big travel day ahead. But we were on a high after such a great night and would continue to chant “OKC, OKC” for weeks after the game.
Average Daily Spend for 3 nights – $225.31 NZD ($62.19 under budget per day)