McChord Airmen meet SuperSonics

Seattle SuperSonics rookie Kevin Durant signs a basketball for Senior Airman Troy Bame, 62nd Operations Support Squadron,Wednesday at the Sonics practice facility in Seattle. Four McChord Airmen and servicemembers from other branches of the militarywere invited to the facility to watch a practice, meet and eat lunch with the players, and attend Wednesday night’s gameagainst the New Orleans Hornets.

Seattle SuperSonics rookie Kevin Durant signs a basketball for Senior Airman Troy Bame, 62nd Operations Support Squadron,Wednesday at the Sonics practice facility in Seattle. Four McChord Airmen and servicemembers from other branches of the militarywere invited to the facility to watch a practice, meet and eat lunch with the players, and attend Wednesday night’s gameagainst the New Orleans Hornets.

Senior Master Sgt. Stephen Harris, 446th Services Flight, presents Sonics coach P.J.
Carlesimo with a military challenge coin.

Senior Master Sgt. Stephen Harris, 446th Services Flight, presents Sonics coach P.J. Carlesimo with a military challenge coin.

Staff Sgt. Daniel Tercero, 22nd Special Tactics Squadron, poses for a picture
with Sonics rookie Kevin Durant.

Staff Sgt. Daniel Tercero, 22nd Special Tactics Squadron, poses for a picture with Sonics rookie Kevin Durant.

Sonics general manager Sam Presti, center, talks basketball with Senior
Airman Troy Bame, 62nd Operations Support Squadron, left, and Sergeant Tercero. (Photos by Tyler Hemstreet.)

Sonics general manager Sam Presti, center, talks basketball with Senior Airman Troy Bame, 62nd Operations Support Squadron, left, and Sergeant Tercero. (Photos by Tyler Hemstreet.)

SEATTLE, Wash. -- Four McChord Airmen got a glimpse on Wednesday of what it's like to walk in the large shoes of a professional basketball player. Senior Airman Troy Bame, 62nd Operations Support Squadron; Senior Master Sgt. Stephen Harris, 446th Services Flight; Staff Sgt. Daniel Tercero, 22nd Special Tactics Squadron; and Senior Airman Steven Spaulding, Western Air Defense Sector, got an up-close and- personal view of the Seattle SuperSonics, from the morning shootaround at the Furtado Center and ensuing meet and greet with the players to courtside seats at the evening game at Key Arena against the New Orleans Hornets. 

It was all part of a day earmarked by the Sonics to show the organization's appreciation to local military members. 

"With our young team, it's important for our guys to see other guys their age and what they're doing -- it has a great impact," said Sonics general manager Sam Presti, who orchestrated the event. "Our job is just a joke compared to what these guys do each day. We as an organization just want to say thanks and show them that what they do doesn't go unrecognized." 

For Airman Bame, a rush of excitement followed the initial surprise of hearing he'd been selected to attend the event. 

"It's not every day that you get to meet a professional basketball team," he said. 

The Airmen were among a group of 15 other servicemembers who were treated to a catered breakfast and got to watch the morning shootaround from the balcony of the practice facility. The group was then invited to go down to the floor and meet the players and get autographs. 

After just 10 minutes into the session, Sergeant Tercero already had nearly the entire Sonics team sign the basketball he brought along with him. 

"The signatures are awesome," said Sergeant Tercero, who's been a Sonics fan since the early 1990s. "I almost didn't bring a ball to get signed. I would have been pretty mad." 

The 22nd STS sergeant even got a chance to talk basketball with Mr. Presti. 

"I just wanted to pinch myself to see if everything was really happening," Sergeant Tercero said. 

After receiving a handshake and an autograph from Sonics rookie Kevin Durant, Airman Bame said the whole experience with the Sonics gave him a more intimate knowledge of the players. 

"They're a lot more down to earth than you think," he said. 

Sergeant Harris got the opportunity to talk to Sonics coach P.J. Carlesimo about Team McChord and its mission and presented the coach with a military challenge coin. 

"It's nice for us that the Sonics are doing the community involvement," Airman Bame said. "They extended their gratitude to us and we really appreciate it."