<
>

Thunder's city jerseys presented to families of bombing victims

OKLAHOMA CITY -- In a powerful pregame moment Tuesday, the Oklahoma City Thunder presented custom city-edition jerseys to the families of the 168 people killed in the 1995 Alfred P. Murrah bombing.

Following a short video presentation, the families took the floor moments before tipoff and held up jerseys displaying No. 95 and the name of their loved one on the back.

"It was amazing. Just 10 out of 10, bro," Thunder center Steven Adams said. "Just something unbelievably special."

The Thunder's city jersey is a collaboration between the Thunder, Nike and the Oklahoma City National Memorial. The uniform features plenty of symbolism, including the gold coloring representing the "Gates of Time" from the memorial (9:01 and 9:03), a picture of the Survivor Tree on the belt (a 90-year-old American elm that survived the blast and now stands at the heart of the memorial) and a number of other subtle nods.

"You know for a lot of guys on our team, some of them weren't even born then," Chris Paul said. "And for me, I was 10 years old and I remember that. I remember being at school. It's tough. And then playing here my first two years knowing how much that event impacted the city. My grandparents and parents were here for the last home game, and I sent them over to the memorial. For my grandparents and parents to get a chance to experience that, it's very emotional."

Tuesday marked 168 days until the 25th anniversary of the bombing, which happened on April 19, 1995. Prior to Sept. 11, it was the deadliest domestic terror attack in United States history, killing 168 and injuring at least 680 more.

The Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum is only a few blocks from Chesapeake Energy Arena and features 168 empty chairs facing a shallow reflecting pool.

"The memorial does a really great job of paying respect to those who lost their lives. They're not forgotten," Adams said. "And the Thunder does a great job of keeping them alive in that way, if that makes sense. It was touching, mate."

The Thunder have been closely aligned with the Oklahoma City National Memorial since arriving in OKC, with each new team employee, including players, taking a tour of the museum to learn of the significance of the event to the identity of the city. Thunder general manager Sam Presti serves on the memorial's executive committee.

"I think the team does a great job of making sure every player goes over and sees that and understand what they're playing for when they're here," Paul said.

The Thunder will wear the city edition uniform for the first time on Jan. 9 against the Houston Rockets.