Thunder debuts new security to mixed reviews

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OKLAHOMA CITY - Ask fans who showed up early for Friday night's preseason opener, and they'll by and large tell you the pregame security was fairly smooth sailing.

For the fans who got there closer to tip off, it was a different story.

The Thunder debuted new security Friday night.

Instead of wands, fans were greeted by metal detectors.

"This is just simpler, kind of taking it to the next step," said Dan Mahoney, the Thunder's vice president of corporate communications. "It's not like we've been insecure before. This is just about taking it to the next level, from the wands to the metal detectors. But, we also don't want this to become a major disruption for our fans either."

New NBA rules have changed the way stadiums around the country screen people streaming in.

Stand-up metal detectors are the new standard.

Large belt buckles, sunglasses, cameras and cell phones will have to be placed in small dishes as people walk through the metal detectors.

Belts, jackets, shoes, wallets, watches and jewelry can stay on.

No weapons of any kind are allowed.

Thunder Security

The Thunder are asking people carrying bags to have them open and unzipped at the front gates so they are ready to be searched.

There will be an express lane for people who are not carrying bags.

A video on the Thunder website details the new security procedures.

"It's designed to actually, maybe take less time," Mahoney said. "This isn't the airport. You don't have to take your belt off, your shoes off.  You just have to pay attention, come early and help us a little bit."

The fans that did show up early had fewer problems.

"I like it, it was quicker," said John Glover. "Just set [your cell phone] down on the table and walk through, and that was it."

If the metal detector does go off, fans are escorted to a second metal detector, where they may also be wanded down.

"Well, I guess, it's necessary, but it's a little crazy," said Sharla Johnson, who tripped the detectors the first time. "Going through, it feels like you're going through the airport. I may not wear a belt next time."

Fans that showed up closer to tip-off complained of long waits outside.

Mahoney asked fans for patience Friday, noting that the process is new for many security guards, too.

He expects things will move faster by the time the regular season opens October 28.