OKLAHOMA CITY -- Sixty-six and a half miles. That is the distance between Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Okla., and the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City. It’s an interesting number for one player in particular.
That distance separates the place where Miami reserve guard Terrel Harris played his college ball, Oklahoma State University, and where he steps on the court for the 2012 NBA Finals.
By his junior year, Harris ranked seventh in school history in career free-throw shooting and became just the 24th player in school history to record 100 career steals. He was a recognized name in Stillwater, population: 45,688.
After four seasons as a Cowboy, returning to the state for the NBA Finals is a surreal experience for the 24-year-old.
“It’s a dream come true,” Harris said. “I get to come back somewhere I feel comfortable, in a clutch situation like this. It brings a lot of energy to the whole situation. I feel good about coming back to my second home.”
A second home that he returns to as a member of the opposing team on the game’s biggest stage.
“I still get a lot of love out here from Oklahomians,” he said with a laugh.
As the Thunder and Heat square off in the NBA Finals, Harris knows what the opposing fans bring to the table.
“It’s going to be high energy. It feels like OSU crowd and [University of Oklahoma] crowd. … That’s always the best thing about Oklahoma. They’ve always had the best fans. I just think the energy level’s going to be high.”
The sellout crowd of 18,203 did not disappoint Tuesday, cheering Oklahoma City to a 105-94 win in Game 1 of the NBA Finals.
Harris has averaged just 2.3 minutes per game in these playoffs and hasn’t seen the court since Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals. But, should he see some playing time in Game 2, he will have some very special guests in attendance.
“My mom, she’s coming Thursday. My little cousins, they’re coming. So it’s a great experience for them. My little brother’s coming. Even a couple of former OSU players are coming. Obi Muonelo and Marcus Dove. Those are still my good friends, and they’re coming to support me. I think it’s just a great experience for everybody.”
This is a series overflowing with star power and national headlines. It’s an exciting time for the NBA and its fans. As the Heat looks to win it all, there is one player who’s extra happy to be a part of it.