Thunder, OKC National Memorial leaders discuss uniforms to honor victims of bombing on a global stage

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) - Thursday night's Thunder game is exciting for more reasons than the team facing their conference rival Houston Rockets.

The team is honoring the upcoming 25th anniversary of the OKC bombing in a special way as they face Russell Westbrook at home for the first time.

"It's a basketball uniform, yes," said Justice Steven Taylor, who presided over the OKC bombing state trial. "They're going to be wearing it for the first time, yes. But it's also something that I hope everyone will study the uniform."

The Twin Gates of Time, the Survivor Tree and the Reflecting Pool are all symbols with deep meaning to Oklahoma - that will reach folks far beyond state lines in a highly anticipated match-up Thursday.

"This is just a way for us to show the world because the NBA and the Thunder are on a global stage all the time," said Dan Mahoney, Vice President of corporate communications for the Thunder.

The stage grows tonight in particular - with the return of Russell Westbrook - who will be taking the court at Chesapeake Energy Arena for the first time as a Houston Rocket.

"We certainly know that our fans recognize what Russell did for this community and this team," Mahoney said. "The level of accomplishment we've been able to achieve over the first 11 seasons, Russell was a huge part of that and we know our fans appreciated him, appreciated that and will welcome him back."

That community involvement is part of the fabric of the relationship between the Thunder and the Oklahoma City National Memorial since the first day the NBA came to Oklahoma.

Leaders of the Thunder Organization continue to stress the importance that all Thunder players visit the Memorial, says Justice Steven Taylor - who presided over the state trials following the bombing.

"They wanted the players to understand the community they were representing on the basketball court," he said.

Now - on the 25th of every month in the year 2020 - the Thunder is covering admission fees to the Oklahoma City National Memorial.

This - symbolic - and vital - as we approach the 25th anniversary.

"It gives us a connection - particularly - to young people," Taylor said. "That's our mission right now is a connection with young people so they understand what happened here and the lessons learned and the mission of this place and to maintain the relevance of the mission and lessons learned."

Right now - the Thunder is also funding an upcoming exhibit at the memorial - the Oklahoma Standard.

It will focus on acts of kindness still happening in the community.

"The Oklahoma Standard came from the bombing experience in service honor and kindness and this community showed that to the whole world by the response of the community to the bombing," said Taylor.

Keep a close eye out for the Thunder's pregame warm-up sweatsuits.

They will pay tribute as well.

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