OKLAHOMA CITY — In his 37 years of broadcasting, Ernie Johnson has seen almost every type of sports environment. From his days of calling Atlanta Braves baseball to his current role as studio host of TNT’s widely popular “Inside the NBA,” he’s seen it all.
Despite that, he sees what is taking place with the Oklahoma City Thunder fan base and ranks it as one of the best home-court advantages in sports.
“It’s just a raucous bunch for sure,” Johnson said in an interview with The Transcript. “You can tell how it picks the team up. It has that sixth man effect here. Great building, noisy building, great fans, it’s everything you expect and it’s exactly what OKC needed after those first two games to come back to that type of atmosphere that’s supportive and encouraging and gets behind the guys every possession.”
Johnson was in Oklahoma City in 2012 when the Thunder and Spurs played for the conference title. He’s been on hand for many of the great moments in the NBA over the last couple of decades and says their is nothing like playoff basketball.
“Playoff atmosphere is so different than regular season,” Johnson said. “Every possession is important. I think the teams that value each possession in the long run, that’s what pays off. If you get careless for a second, you don’t know if a layup that you gave up because it wasn’t a Game 3 playoff effort, if that’s going to tell the tale of the game. It’s just great. You can beat it.”
Johnson has watched Thunder star Kevin Durant grow into the league’s MVP in a short time. He remembers the days when Durant won the short-lived H-O-R-S-E title during the All-star break and marvels at the player and man he’s become.