Super-Fan From Japan: Oklahoma Thunder Celebrates Tokyo 'Burbs Artist

Sitting here with my coffee & Cocoa Krispies this morning, I came across a story in the WSJ about Nanae Yamano, an artist & mom from the Japanese suburbs of Tokyo. What makes her unique?

Despite having never left her country before, Yamano was an Oklahoma Thunder super-fan with an Instagram dedicated to sharing her doodles of the team. Her depictions of the players earned her a cult following that grew to such popularity that the NBA flew her out for VIP treatment at last night’s game against the Jazz. (Final, Thunder: 102 – Jazz: 115)

The first 15 posts of 464 in her ‘Gram account so far are clips from a single game against the Timberwolves in October, 2016. Exactly one week later Nanae posted her first cartoon and it took off from there:

Her whole account is just a goddamn delight. Pour a little Bailey’s in that mug (or glass, if you’re Chaps) & scroll through some samples of her work below:

Consolation sandwiches after last night’s game:

Admittedly, I don’t understand this one at all, but I love it. Oladipo crushes on the guitar while Adams rocks out on the triangle:

Besides the cartoon doodles, she intersperses other styles of her team art that are pretty cool:


I’m not a Thunder fan, but something about Yamano’s illustrations endears me to the players. She finds a unique way to humanize people we often don’t look at much beyond their talents on the court. In some sketches they’re struggling with the growing pains every team encounters, other times they’re just goofin’ in what seem to be inside jokes which I’m out of the loop on but enjoy nonetheless.

She celebrates milestones in their personal lives and of those associated with the team as well; Jerami Grant & Andre Roberson’s birthdays, Russel Westbrook’s anniversary, the birth of Fox Sports/Thunder reporter Lesley McCaslin’s baby:


There are also words of wisdom and her messages of genuine encouragement for the players, too:


For some final examples, she has a fun way of capturing their energy on the court:

Gotta say, it was both a solid PR move & genuinely nice gesture by the NBA.


Despite the Thunder’s loss, I hope she enjoys her time in the States & keeps sharing her passion. If you have a favorite team artist or create team art of your own, feel free to share a link with descriptions in the comments. Also, I’m starting my own account for the 76ers. Will post info when ready. ::Photo taken with my Motorola Potato::