How OKC Thunder's Jalen and Jaylin Williams brought 'fire and the fun' this season

Jaylin Williams wanted to keep it low key when he cracked the windshield of his car this season.

His girlfriend booked the repair in her name. But when the worker came to Williams' home to fix the windshield and spotted the OKC Thunder forward, he instantly reacted.

"He didn't say hello, didn't say anything," Williams said during OKC's exit interviews on Sunday. "He just started barking at me."

Jalen Williams has had similar fan encounters.

"I've been barked at at Target or Starbucks," Jalen said with a laugh. "We could probably chill on that a little bit."

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Thunder forwards Jaylin Williams (6) and Jalen Williams (8) celebrate against the Suns on March 29 at Paycom Center.
Thunder forwards Jaylin Williams (6) and Jalen Williams (8) celebrate against the Suns on March 29 at Paycom Center.

Moments like that have become routine for Jalen (J-Dub) and Jaylin (J-Will) Williams, who've helped OKC establish one of the best team vibes in the NBA with their various off-the-court antics.

Atop that list is the barking tradition, which dates back to Jan. 24. Following a 140-114 road win over San Antonio, Aaron Wiggins did a postgame interview with Bally Sports Oklahoma's Nick Gallo.

Wiggins then got swarmed by Chet Holmgren, Jalen and Jaylin Williams. They all began to bark, suggesting that Wiggins was a dog for his hustle on the court.

"I've got to give a shout out to J-Dub and J-Will," Wiggins said. "Those two guys helped to kind of add to both the fire and the fun behind our team with the barking and stuff like that."

OKC's fans ran with the idea.

For the rest of the season, they barked every time Jalen or Jaylin scored a bucket. Some people even showed up to games with cardboard cutouts of the dog emoji. Others showed up with an actual dog mask over their face.

"I think it's just a really fun thing that we didn't even try to do," Jalen said. "It just kind of ended up happening. Somebody's mom was barking during the game. So, it's like one of those things that's really cool."

Jalen and Jaylin Williams have been connected ever since they arrived together in OKC.

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The Thunder selected Jalen with the No. 12 overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. It then picked Jaylin in the second round (No. 34 overall).

The two forwards instantly grabbed fans' attention because they shared the same name, but their personalities were also identical. It didn't take long before they filmed a TikTok video together, playing on the joke that they were related.

Jalen and Jaylin continued to be their outgoing, authentic selves this season.

Jalen made a tradition of his own by wearing various Thunder T-shirts, which fans sent to his P.O. Box, during pregame warmups. They featured images of Holmgren's SLAM magazine, head coach Mark Daigneault and everything in between.

Jaylin also embraced being the most vocal player on OKC's bench. He celebrates every bucket by his Thunder teammates, and he's the first one to run onto the court and hand out high-fives during timeouts.

"To me, I don't look at it as a role," Jaylin said. "I'm just being myself. I think that a lot of it is because of my teammates, as well. They bring it out in me. They let me be free and be myself around them. It's just be out there and having fun."

Jalen and Jaylin helped OKC become one of the most likable teams in the NBA this season, but not everyone is a fan.

There are those who hate the AT&T commercial of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Holmgren singing "What A Pro Wants," which is a parody of Christina Aguilera's "What A Girl Wants." There are others who mock Jalen for his TikToks and outlandish pregame outfits.

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Thunder forward Jalen Williams (8) celebrates a 3-point play in the second quarter against the Mavericks at Paycom Center on May 15.
Thunder forward Jalen Williams (8) celebrates a 3-point play in the second quarter against the Mavericks at Paycom Center on May 15.

And, of course, there are those who celebrated on social media when OKC suffered a 4-2 series loss to Dallas in the Western Conference semifinals. It comes with the territory for the Thunder, which became the youngest No. 1 seed in NBA history.

"Criticism, I could care less about," Jalen said. "I'll go back to a very good life right after we're done with this interview, so it doesn't really bother me at all. ... It doesn't really hold any value. It's behind the keyboard."

As OKC enters this offseason, its roster could go through some changes.

The Thunder has the No. 12 overall pick in the NBA Draft and about $35 million in cap space that it can use to be free agency buyers.

But regardless of the moves OKC makes, one thing won't change. The Thunder will still be its free-spirited selves next season, barking and all.

"It's kind of like our identity," Jalen said. "I think a lot of our identity hasn't been forced either. A lot of it is just like us being goofy and then it kind of ends up being something pretty cool. I enjoy it."

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This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: OKC's Jalen and Jaylin Williams brought 'fire and the fun' for Thunder