Certain names have become Oklahoma City pillars, staples synonymous with the Thunder brand.
Russell Westbrook. Nick Collison. Sam Presti. Steven Adams. Marc St. Yves.
Wait, what… who?
To fans, one of these things is not like the other. But if you ask anyone within the tight knit Thunder organization about St. Yves, or Saint as he’s affectionately known, they’ll convince you the man in charge of team jerseys should have his own hanging from The Peake’s rafters.
“Saint exemplifies everything good that the Thunder stands for,” Matt Tumbleson, the Thunder’s Vice President of Basketball Communications, told me at the film’s virtual presser.
Saint started out as a ballboy for the Seattle SuperSonics at 13 years old. It was October 3, 1979. That night, the Sonics received their first and only championship rings. Over 40 years later, the man is still employed by the same organization and has been promoted five times, yet he lives in another state and works for a different team.
So why have you never heard of him?
“He’s a guy who never wants the attention or for it to be about him,” explained John Read, the Thunder’s Senior Manager of Basketball Communications. “So it’s perfect that he gets an entire movie made about him.”
Director Michael Zubach clearly knows the first rule of moviemaking: open with an attention grabber. The first shot of the film is Michael Jordan’s legendary free throw line dunk at the 1987 Dunk Contest, at which we discover St. Yves had a courtside seat.
The film immediately shifts to Nick Collison, who speaks the first words of the film: “Saint is always the guy who knows how to find the beer.” Insert a clip of Superbad.
In the first minute, you’ve got MJ, Mr. Thunder and McLovin.
And while the headliner may be short on star power, the film’s producers recruited Thunder and SuperSonics A-Listers for their supporting cast. Saint’s story is told through sit down interviews with Sam Presti, Russell Westbrook (in gross Rockets gear), Nick Collison, Steven Adams, Andre Roberson, Billy Donovan, Mo Cheeks, Scott Brooks, Hersey Hawkins, Brent Barry, and Terry Stotts.
This is the story of a Thunder staffer climbing the ladder from ball boy to Vice President of Logistics. It’s also the story of a born and bred Seattle SuperSonics boy moving his family to Oklahoma City and falling in love with another team and community. Mostly, it’s about the behind the scenes people whose names we don’t know but who have a huge influence on the team we love.
The pacing is surprisingly spry for a flick that bounces around from a Seattle laundromat to Will Rogers Airport to the ground floor of the infamous OKC-Utah COVID-19 night that shut down the NBA.
The documentary has more laughs than you’d expect, and the funniest bit comes courtesy of Collison, Adams, Westbrook and Brooks sharing their PG-13 nicknames they’ve given this Saint.
It’s a testament to the character of Saint and to the talent of the filmmakers that in the minute count of one episode of The Office, I was able to learn the details of this man’s 40 year professional career but also felt my heartstrings being tugged when he spoke of his wife, son and granddaughter.
So who is Marc St. Yves?
According to the Thunder org chart, he’s Director of Team Operations. Per Westbrook, he’s the biggest trash talker in Thunder history. Presti says he’s an encyclopedia of the NBA. Adams calls him a wanker.
My takeaway: this everyday Saint is an integral strand of the Thunder fabric, a cherished co-worker and a beloved family man.