‘He pronounced “Jabbar” in the most amazing way’

One of my favorite narrative alleyways… byways… whatever of the month, as New York Times Magazine writes about the Oklahoma City Thunder and talks to the team’s most famous fan, Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips.

As OKC’s reigning celebrity, Coyne sometimes attends Thunder games, where he sits courtside. Although he seems genuinely fond of the team, he’s not what you would call a sports aficionado. When I asked him if he followed basketball before the Thunder came to town, he had to think for a few seconds. “No,” he said. “I mean, I liked, like, the Harlem Globetrotters. Or some mythical figure like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar” — and he pronounced “Jabbar” in the most amazing way, with an exotically soft “j” and several extra vowels, as if it were the name of a genie that had come drifting one morning out of his bong.

Coyne admits that at Thunder games, he doesn’t always understand what’s going on. “It’s not like a Steven Spielberg-scripted event when you’re there,” he told me. “You’re like, Well, did we win? I’m confused. Did they win? And then you look up and you’re like, Well, is the game over?”

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