By Brianna Bailey
OKLAHOMA CITY - When the Oklahoma City Thunder faced the Miami Heat during the 2012 NBA finals, Gary Desjardins and his staff at SMG were tasked with handling the crush of media that descended on Oklahoma City for the games.
More that 500 credentialed members of the media from 200 countries came to Oklahoma City for the finals in June - two of the five games were played in Oklahoma City.
"We didn't know from one day to the next if we would host another game, so that made it hard," Desjardins said.
Faced with orchestrating the logistics of getting the Chesapeake Energy Arena camera-ready for the roughly 33 million people in the United States that would watch the two games in Oklahoma City, the SMG staff worked around the clock.
"We had staff who literally worked almost 24 hours a day," Desjardins said. "They would go home for maybe a few hours to sleep, but then come right back to work."
Every usable space in the Chesapeake Energy Arena was crammed with media and support staff. ESPN took over a suite in the arena, completely building out the space into a TV studio for broadcasts of the games, interviews and other coverage.
"Gary had to punch holes in the walls to run cables - it put a lot of stress on the facility to meet the expectations of the media," said Brian Byrnes, senior vice president of sales and marketing for the Thunder. "Gary had a lot of people knocking on his doors with expectations to get it done yesterday."
Desjardins and his staff had to tear out seating in the upper level of the arena and build a temporary area for media covering the games.
"They needed 500 Internet drops and telephone lines and we had to figure out a way to make that happen," said Tom Anderson, special projects director for Oklahoma City, which owns the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
While ultimately the Thunder would cede the 2012 NBA championship to Miami in five games, the finals were a victory for Oklahoma City that Desjardins was proud to be a part of, he said.
The games were the first NBA Finals the Thunder had played in since the Seattle SuperSonics moved to Oklahoma City in 2008 and became the Thunder.
"You can only host your first NBA Finals game once," Desjardins said.