With the second-best record in the NBA, the Oklahoma City Thunder don’t appear to be a team in need of additional advantages. Particularly at home where they are 21-3, the talent-filled roster featuring All-Stars like Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook would appear to be enough. But upon further investigation, it looks like there may have been another contributor to the Thunder’s success these past few seasons, one who doesn’t appear on the team’s official roster.
The Skirvin Hotel – Oklahoma City’s oldest hotel and the normal staying place for NBA visitors – may also be home to a ghost by the name of Effie. Over the years, claims of strange sounds and the slamming of doors have all been pinned on Effie. These incidents have become so common, that a book has even been co-authored about them. NBA teams who have claimed to have been distracted by the odd happenings at this hotel have included the New York Knicks, the Chicago Bulls, and the Miami Heat. And following their last visit there in late 2012, the Phoenix Suns can now add their names to that list as well.
“I woke up in the middle of the night and my bathtub was completely filled with water,” Wes Johnson recalled of his most recent visit. “And it wasn’t like a leak or anything like that, it was completely filled with water.”
Johnson wasn’t alone in his claims to having experienced a visit from Effie. Suns assistant coach Noel Gillespie said he was on the computer one night at the Skirvin Hotel when the faucets in the bathroom sink suddenly turned on by itself.
“I’m not a paranormal guy, but there is definitely a history there,” Gillespie said.
While the assistant coach hesitates to say that he’s now become a believer in the supernatural, he says at the very least he can now buy into some of the bizarre stories that he’s heard.
“I’ve always been the naysayer, but it was a weird random thing to have happened,” Gillespie says of his experience. “I mentioned it later to (Suns Athletic Trainer) Aaron Nelson, and when he found out what floor I was on, he told me that was where the majority of incidents have taken place.”
Nelson certainly appears to be the most informed of Effie’s history, but declined to say whether or not he’s ever used that to his advantage when it comes to putting a scare into his fellow Suns.
“We’ve had some guys in the past who have been really freaked out by the history, so we’ve messed with a couple of them,” Nelson admits. “I don’t want to name any names, but we’ve even had guys play a couple of practical jokes on other guys.”
While Nelson won’t name the culprits in any past practical jokes, he swears not to know anything regarding the shenanigans that took place with Wes Johnson or Noel Gillespie during that stay in late December. But whether it’s Effie herself or just a bored teammate, Johnson says he will not be as quick to dismiss stories that suggest paranormal activity in the future.
“When I was young, my mom would tell me about things that happened at my grandmother’s house.,” Johnson recalls. “There was a cemetery right there so people would always talk about things that were happening. For the most part, I always brushed that stuff off while growing up, but this was the first time I remembered actually experiencing something myself.”
While it’s hard to picture somebody who’s 6-7 needing a nightlight to fall asleep, with the legends of Effie continuing to grow as the Thunder’s tenure in Oklahoma City grows, you’d be hard pressed to blame the guy for keeping the phone numbers of Bill Murray and the rest of the Ghostbusters nearby.