NewsOK: Oklahoma City News, Sports, Weather & Entertainment

Playoffs converge with holy days, bombing anniversary

The Rev. Don Heath saw the writing on the wall and planned accordingly.

Heath, co-pastor of Edmond Trinity Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), shares a set of season tickets to Oklahoma City Thunder games. Anticipating the playoff schedule in late April, he told his buddies weeks in advance that he wanted tickets for one of the later home games in the post-season match-up between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Portland Trail Blazers.

"I picked Game 6 so I wouldn't have a conflict with Good Friday or Easter," Heath said.

Turns out the pastor was right to think ahead.

Friday's game converged with two religious observances and holidays. It was Good Friday, the day Christians commemorate Christ's death on the cross, and the first night of Passover, the Jewish holiday that commemorates the Hebrews' exodus from slavery in Egypt as told in the Book of Exodus. The day also marked the 24th anniversary of the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995.

And Sunday, well, that's Easter Sunday, the most holy day on the Christian calendar — a day when Christians celebrate Christ's Resurrection.

It's not like the Thunder hasn't played on Easter before. Most recently, the team snapped a three-game losing streak with a win against the New Orleans Pelicans on Easter Sunday in 2018.

That wasn't a home game, though.

Dan Mahoney, Thunder vice president of broadcasting and corporate communications, said the Thunder expected the invocation for the games on Friday night and Sunday night to include some mention of the holy days, and on Friday, the bombing anniversary.

The Thunder is one of the only NBA organizations — if not the only one — to have an invocation before games.

The Rev. James Dunbar, pastor of Greater Cleaves Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, gave the invocation on Friday and the Rev. Randy McGuire, pastor of Lakeside United Methodist Church, is set to give the invocation on Sunday.

Dunbar has given the invocation at a previous playoff game. He said when he learned of this week's playoff schedule, he knew he'd have to adjust his Good Friday plans to attend Friday's game.

So he planned to attend a noon hour Good Friday service and miss an evening "Seven Last Words of Christ" Good Friday event.

Dunbar said he considers it an honor to give the invocation at the Thunder games and he loves the opportunity to share a spiritual message, however brief.

"Even though the invocation is not a long, drawn-out thing, it's a moment to invite God into the sphere," he said. "I get to share that with 18,000 people. I'm cool with that."

McGuire, a Thunder season ticket holder, said he knows how NBA playoffs work so he was happy the game on Easter is an evening game — set for 8:30 p.m. — well after he will preach his Resurrection Sunday sermon at his Oklahoma City church.

"At least in the evening, I will be free," he said, laughing.

Meanwhile, die-hard Thunder fan Judy Love, who is Catholic, said the holy days and her Thunder passion would not conflict. She and her husband Tom are founders of Love's Travel Stops and the company recently partnered with the Thunder for corporate sponsorship that included the placing of the Love's heart logo on Thunder jerseys. The Loves often are seated court side at home games.

"There's no way that we couldn't go to the Thunder game. The Lord will not mind," she said.

"We'll go to church that afternoon, that's when they have the services," she said earlier this week.

Love said she won't be asking for any divine help for the team but she did predict a win for Friday night. "I cannot pray for the Thunder to win. I just can't do it. There's just so many other things to pray for," she said.

"But I can sure thank the Lord when we do win."

Related Photos
<strong>The Oklahoma City Thunder bow their heads during an invocation before an NBA preseason game at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in this 2013 photo. [Photo by Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]</strong>

The Oklahoma City Thunder bow their heads during an invocation before an NBA preseason game at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in this 2013 photo. [Photo by Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-de15d3e681e7135dc0ffd3a3474bfea6.jpg" alt="Photo - The Oklahoma City Thunder bow their heads during an invocation before an NBA preseason game at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in this 2013 photo. [Photo by Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman] " title=" The Oklahoma City Thunder bow their heads during an invocation before an NBA preseason game at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in this 2013 photo. [Photo by Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> The Oklahoma City Thunder bow their heads during an invocation before an NBA preseason game at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in this 2013 photo. [Photo by Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-f8f22b4839e0c433562eac609cd244e8.jpg" alt="Photo - The Oklahoma City Thunder bow their heads during an invocation before an NBA preseason game at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in this 2013 photo. [Photo by Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman] " title=" The Oklahoma City Thunder bow their heads during an invocation before an NBA preseason game at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in this 2013 photo. [Photo by Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> The Oklahoma City Thunder bow their heads during an invocation before an NBA preseason game at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in this 2013 photo. [Photo by Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure>
Carla Hinton

Carla Hinton, an Oklahoma City native, joined The Oklahoman in 1986 as a National Society of Newspaper Editors minority intern. She began reporting full-time for The Oklahoman two years later and has served as a beat writer covering a wide... Read more ›

Comments