Haviland is hardly the only Thunder fanatic who dresses in bizarre outfits, paints his body and shouts himself silly. Actually, the faithful fan base includes a group of self-described superheroes who will do and say almost anything to help the home team win. They usually sit together and can be seen behind the basket at the south end of Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Those who join Thundor include Thunder Princess (aka Nauzi Jagosh), Chew-Ibaka (aka Arlen Foulks) and Brick Man (aka Derrick Seys).
If you think they’re lunatics, think again. Haviland helps troubled youth, Foulks is a neonatologist at The Children’s Hospital at OU Medical Center, Seys is an engineering manager for an Illinois aviation company and Jagosh works at The Language Company headquarters in Edmond.
All four said the reason for their costumed shenanigans is simple: to distract opposing free-throw shooters.
“I do a little booty shake and wiggle around,” Jagosh said. “I give ’em a little sex appeal, or as much as a 27-year-old can wearing a tiara and tutu. Our goal is to distract the shooter and get under his skin.”
Coincidentally, skin is something the 27-year-old Haviland shows a lot of as Thundor.
Going without a shirt, he sports blue shorts and suspenders, an orange cape and a multicolored mask reminiscent of Jack Black’s character in the movie Nacho Libre. He also carries a large orange and blue megaphone with the Thunder logo painted on it.
With the NBA playoffs in full swing, the merry band of superheroes are dedicated to giving their beloved team any advantage they can.
Seys, who travels from northern Illinois to Oklahoma City for a handful of games each season, jokes that the group plays its part against opposing teams with “free-throw defense.”
“That’s not something the coaches work on very often,” Seys said with a laugh.
Foulks has a variety of characters he portrays, but his mainstay is Chew-Ibaka, a furry creature that pays homage to Star Wars’ Chewbacca. Foulks adds a Thunder touch by wearing the No. 9 jersey over his costume in honor of OKC shot-blocking guru Serge Ibaka. Two other characters produced by Foulks are Thunder Stormtrooper, a takeoff of the Star Wars stormtroopers, and Thunder Claus for the holiday games.
The motley crew has attracted the attention of Thunder head coach Scott Brooks.
“We love ’em,” he said. “This is a special place. They cheer us, and they know the game. It’s a great environment to coach in, play in and watch. They love our players.”
Jumpsuit to bare chest
Haviland created his character in 2008 as part of the Ultimate Fan Contest sponsored by Love’s Convenience Stores. During the team’s first two seasons, he wore a one-piece wrestling jumpsuit, but that wore out. By the third year, Haviland went shirtless, and it’s been that way since.
“I was really nervous that first game because I looked like an idiot,” he said. “But I had some liquid courage before the game, and that helped.”
During that match-up, an opposing player missed two free throws as the masked man yelled through his megaphone, prompting Haviland to conclude that his stunts could impact the game.
“I was yelling at him, and the crowd loved it. From there, the antics just got bigger and bigger. I would paint my belly, rip my shirt off, and then for Christmas I would put ornaments on my nipples,” he said.
Thundor’s outrageous behavior earned him a spot as an extra in the Kevin Durant film Thunderstruck.
“It’s ridiculous how far it’s gone,” Haviland said. “I’ll keep it going until I’m too old to make it down the stairs.”
He said Thundor can also be an escape from the job stress that comes from managing 16 teenaged girls in a Chickasha detention facility.
“It can wear on a man’s soul,” he said, adding that the girls are very supportive of his Thundor character.
Still, Thunder officials want to ensure Haviland and his cohorts stay within the bounds of polite society.
“We love and appreciate his passion. We just asked him to be tasteful,” said Dan Mahoney, Thunder vice president of communications and community relations.
After a Thunder executive asked Haviland to put a shirt on, the superhero and the front office hammered out a compromise.
“I can go shirtless with suspenders or go shirtless with a painted belly,” Haviland said. “However, no more coconut bras or nipple tassels.”
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