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News » They love this team


They love this team


They love this team
Just because the Thunder is unveiling its mascot this week doesn't mean the Ford Center has been without characters.

Plenty of folks have helped fill the void.

They have crazy costumes. They have silly props. They have wild antics. Most of all, they have fun cheering on the Thunder.

They are super fans.

Two days before the Thunder reveals its bison-themed mascot - here's a vote for the nickname "Rumble" - it is fitting to celebrate the fans who became capable stand-ins.

Some are recognized by name. Brick Man. Thunder Man.

Others are known by look. The guy with the headband. The gal with the blue hair.

Ironically, all of them were fans of the Hornets, the team that will be in town Tuesday when the Thunder debuts its mascot. But only Derrick Seys, a.k.a. Brick Man, carried his super fan routine from one team to the other.

"The fan base is shuffled," Seys said, "so everybody's finding their place."

Some super fans from the Hornets' era have gone, the Yodeler and the Bee Keeper among them.

Others, though, have taken their place. Some have already come and gone - "Gods of Thunder," where are you? - but these four appeared early on and have become fixtures at the Ford Center.

All of them have different reasons for taking their fandom to a higher level, but in the end, it all boils down to one common denominator.

They love the Thunder.

Remember, this is a team that hasn't always been lovable. Even when this squad stumbled often and struggled mightily early on, these fans found reason to not only cheer but also commit.

Talk about being super fans.

Not surprisingly, none of them have any plans to retire their costumes or shelf their props just because the Thunder is revealing its mascot this week.

The way they see it, now they have a little more help.

Derrick Seys, Brick Man FAMILIAR FAN NEARLY DIDN'T MAKE IT TO FORD CENTER THIS YEAR

Derrick Seys always planned to bring his wackiness back to the Ford Center.

He just wasn't sure it would be as Brick Man.

Seys became a familiar figure during the Hornets' tenure in Oklahoma City, sitting on the front row in the south end, wearing a foam brick on his head. But when it looked like he might not be able to buy Thunder season tickets, he considered a change.

His plan: buy a ticket to every game and wear a "Where's Waldo?" themed costume.

Then, season tickets became available about a dozen rows up in the north end.

The Brick Man liveth.

"It's really my civic duty," Seys deadpanned.

The aeronautical engineer has a routine for opponent free throws. He puts on his brick, which regularly gets a fresh coat of red paint, and he whistles and waves one of his homemade signs.

Seys is glad to have seats where the Brick Man can do his thing.

"Somebody's looking out for us," he said. "Act of Clay Bennett?"

He laughed.

"I don't know the reason. Just happy to be here."

Angela Love, Blue Hair WHAT STARTED OUT AS A HALLOWEEN COSTUME HAS BECOME A MAINSTAY

Angela Love had to will herself out the door on the night of the Thunder's season opener.

She wanted to go to the game.

She just wasn't sure about her outfit.

"I don't normally do stuff like this," Love said, flipping the locks of her neon blue wig. "Opening night, I really had to talk myself into it."

That night, she figured it was close enough to Halloween to get away with an outrageous look. Blue wig. Feathery boa. T-shirt imprinted with the words "Temporary Mascot."

"Then, I just kept doing it because I thought, 'They need it,'" Love said. "They need people willing to do this."

The veterinary clinic assistant has become a mainstay near the tunnel where the Thunder comes onto the court. She offers encouragement to players and coaches before, during and after the game.

A Celtics fan during the Larry Bird era, Love has rediscovered her passion for the NBA.

"It amazes me every time I come here that I can actually yell at NBA players and they hear me," she said, recounting she recently told Russell Westbrook that he should've been in the slam dunk contest and he smiled. "I enjoy that."

Zorgon, Zeb BenbrookHEADBAND ISN'T JUST A GAME-TIME ACCESSORY, IT'S EVERYDAY ATTIRE

Zeb Benbrook has become known for his hair and his headbands.

Thing is, it's not a costume for Thunder games.

It's his every-day look.

"I like long hair," he said, "but I don't want to have a ponytail and I don't like to have my hair over my ears."

Even though Benbrook is just as likely to go to school as to a game wearing a headband with his long, curly locks, it has become his calling card.

Well, that and the foam fingers and the wild dancing.

A senior at Classen School who's long had the nickname "Zorgon," Benbrook has been an NBA fan since first playing NBA Live '98. His family didn't have cable then, but he loved the video game.

His favorite team: Golden State.

"Horrible team," he said, "but the game was really easy to me, so I thought, 'I've got to have a challenge. I'll pick a bad team.' "

Benbrook remains a Warriors fan, even wearing his Golden State gear when the team comes to town.

But that seems forgivable considering how he pulls for the Thunder the rest of the time. Sitting in the north end, he waves his blue foam fingers madly during opponents' free throws, then throws his entire 6-foot-6 frame into dancing during timeouts.

Benbrook even has a blog, BlueBlitz.net, dedicated to the Thunder.

"It's kind of a battle right now," he said of the Thunder and Warriors. "They're both battling for my heart."

Thunder Man MASKED MASCOT STILL NEEDS A LIFT FROM MOM

Thunder Man has a real name.

He just doesn't want to share it.

"I'd like to keep my identity secret," he said.

If someone is willing to dress as a super hero for every Thunder game, keeping his identity secret seems like a fair trade.

Thunder Man debuted at the Orlando game, sitting in the front row almost mid-court on the west side. He's been back every game since, except when the weather was bad and his mother refused to drive all the way from Edmond.

Turns out, Thunder Man is more boy than man; he isn't old enough for a driver's license.

He wears a blue shirt and white shorts, both imprinted with Thunder bolts, as well as a black mask that covers his head and eyes. He recently added a white cape on which he adds logos of teams that the Thunder has beaten.

Thunder Man is a big sports fan who also loved super heroes as a kid.

Now, he's gets to see life from behind the mask. Fans high five him, and a few even asked him to pose for pictures.

"It's like walking in with a celebrity," his mother said.

People may not know his name, but they sure know who Thunder Man is.


Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: February 18, 2009

 

 
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