Like any young lady, Lorelei Decker has a lot more going on beneath her blonde locks than you might think.
But it's not exactly what you'd expect from a 17-year-old high school senior.
Decker has passion and a smile that shines, and gratitude for every day. But directly underneath those blonde locks – which are actually a wig – lies evidence of her current battle with cancer.
Recently the Thunder teamed up with the Make-A-Wish Foundation to make one of Decker's dreams come true. Her wish? To be a Thunder coach for a day.
When Decker's mom, Andrea, nominated her for the wish, "I was kind of reluctant to do it because I wasn't sure there was a wish that would really fit me," she said. But she worked with Make-A-Wish staff to find something that reflected her passion.
Kandy Hadley, director of donor relations with Make-A-Wish Foundation of Oklahoma, noted that it took a while for Decker to find the right wish, but the Thunder kept coming up as something she truly loved.
"She kind of was all over the board – she didn't exactly know, but she had on a Rumble bracelet and talked about the Thunder," Hadley said. "We narrowed it down to that she wanted to have some sort of Thunder wish, and then it evolved to she wanted to actually coach the Thunder."
"I think it was a perfect wish for her."
Decker, with her parents, her brother and some representatives from Make-A-Wish in tow, had a day full of moments she could never have expected.
After being dropped off at the INTEGRIS Thunder Development Center in a limo, Decker sat in on the coaches' morning meeting before being on the court for the team's shoot-around.
"In the coaches' meeting, it was kind of intimidating. … They said, 'Did you watch the road game?' and I said, 'Yeah!' They said, 'So what can we improve on?'" she noted.
Decker noted that she mentioned a few thoughts she had about the team, but it was enough to leave Head Coach Scott Brooks impressed.
"Lorelei was terrific," he said. "She's good, she has a real passion for our team which was really fun to see. She spent an hour and a half in our coaches meeting, telling us what we need to work on and we were all listening. She nails it. You can tell that she's watched our games and she's a fan of our players. …
"She nailed it, she nailed everything."
During shoot-around, Decker got a chance to speak with the players and exchange stories, though she did press some basketball tips on at least one Thunder player.
"With Perkins, we did talk about technicals, but that's only because Coach Brooks advised that," she laughed.
From what forward Kevin Durant said, though, Decker may have been downplaying her coaching skills.
"She did a great job. She wasn't shy. She just came out and told us what we needed to do better as a team. She said we need to rebound better," he said. "She was good, I'm happy that she came out and helped us out. She made me step up my level a little bit, she was great."
After having lunch with the coaching staff, Decker and her family came to Chesapeake Energy Arena and watched the Thunder warm up from the team bench before taking her courtside seats for that evening's game.
As she watched the players warm up, she noted, "I'm just so excited to be here – I've never even thought about being this close."
While trying to find the words to describe the day's experiences, Decker had one of a series of moments that showed how special the day was, as Durant, who was coming out of the locker room to take the court, stopped and gave her a hug.
"It's indescribable; it was better than I could have ever dreamed of," she said.
"The Thunder has been so welcoming and so gracious. … It's been more than incredible. So special."
Hadley agreed that the Thunder made the day special, but added that Decker is pretty special herself.
"She's a joy," Hadley said. "During the wish process, she had considered doing a lot of wishes for other people, that would help other people. … At one point, I just grabbed her hand and said, 'Lorelei, this is about you. You can be selfish because this is your wish. It's about you beating cancer.'"
From what Decker said, looking forward to her day as a Thunder coach and going through the whole experience did give her some help in her fight with Hodgkin lymphoma.
"You have to focus on the positives in situations like this, and this is one huge positive in my life," she concluded.
------------- By Karina Henderson | THUNDER.NBA.COM -------------