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Fans Turn Out In Droves For Thunder Home Opener, Celebrate Westbrook's Return

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Crowds of Thunder fans packed Thunder Alley in downtown Oklahoma City Sunday to cheer on the home team. Crowds of Thunder fans packed Thunder Alley in downtown Oklahoma City Sunday to cheer on the home team.
Russell Westbrook smiles and speaks to reporters' before Sunday's game against the Phoenix Suns. (AP photo/Sue Ogrocki) Russell Westbrook smiles and speaks to reporters' before Sunday's game against the Phoenix Suns. (AP photo/Sue Ogrocki)
OKLAHOMA CITY -

Christmas comes early for Thunder fans as Russell Westbrook takes the court weeks earlier than first anticipated, and just in time for the first home game of the year.

"It's just we've been waiting for months for this to happen," said Danel Grimmet of Edmond.

The wait is over, and the game is on. Crowds of Thunder fans packed Thunder Alley in downtown Oklahoma City Sunday to cheer on the home team. Dressed in blue and orange, with faces painted, fans were pumped to get inside the arena.

"I like standing up and just cheering and having a good time," said Michael McCormick, who says he's Kevin Durant's biggest fan.

Some Thunder fans came as far as New Zealand to cheer on the team's first home game.

"This is our first time in the U.S. and we just heard so much about the Thunder fans, that they're crazy about the Thunder," said Ibrahim Soloman of Rotorua, New Zealand.

11/3/2013 Related Story: Back In Blue: Thunder Wins In Westbrook's Return

Fans have big expectations for the team this season, and one player that everyone's been waiting to see was Russell Westbrook.

"Russell Westbrook is an all-star, and he's just going to bring another dimension to the team," Soloman said. "Him and Durant, plus Adams are the future."

Thunder supporters sparked life around Chesapeake Arena which hasn't been this lively in months. The season kick-off is also helping boost local businesses.

"A lot of people are going to be going to the games so actually we get like two rushes, one rush going to the game, another rush you know is coming in to watch it, and it's always fun, the atmosphere here," said  Amber Hodge, manager of Brix Restaurant and Sports Lounge.

All eyes will be center court on the team as Thunder-lovers plan to root them on to victory.

"Same way we are about everything in Oklahoma. We're passionate. It's our team. It's personal. They're our family and we want them to win," Grimmet said.

Thunder fans will be back at Chesapeake Arena on Wednesday for the next home game, this time taking on the Dallas Mavericks.

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