The BOK Center, a 19,199-seat glass and stainless steel multipurpose arena with Native American accents in downtown Tulsa, Okla., opened in 2008 with a sold-out Eagles concert. Sir Paul McCartney has played there three times.
The arena’s sports history isn’t as noteworthy. The BOK Center is where Illinois drubbed UNLV 73-62 in the 2011 NCAA men’s basketball tournament. That was the last game Lon Kruger coached at UNLV.
The BOK Center also is where the Tulsa Oilers were eliminated from the 2011 Central Hockey League playoffs by the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs, which is more indicative of the arena’s brief sporting history.
But something pretty amazing and sports-related happened at the BOK Center on Saturday night: A cowboy named J.B. Mauney climbed aboard the back of a bull named Bushwacker — the bull “no man can ride” — and rode for 8 seconds.
It was the first time in 57 tries — 42 in official Professional Bull Riders Built Ford Tough Series events — that a man had stayed aboard Bushwacker for 8 seconds. Usually a man stays aboard Bushwacker for 2.4 seconds, or 1.8, and then tries not to rub the parts that hurt while everybody is watching.
Afterward, J.B. Mauney said it was a dogfight, which seemed to be understating it. But he couldn’t say it was a bullfight, because that means something else.
I would have said it was like fighting Mike Tyson, when he was in his prime, before he got the eye tattoo and became a movie star, or like riding the mechanical bull at Gilley’s when it was set on “11” after a like number of Pabst Blue Ribbons.
This is what J.B. Mauney said: “I was just hanging the heck on because I thought a few times I was about to get my teeth knocked out.”
Bushwacker, of the Julio Moreno bucking stable, weighs 1,700 pounds. He is 7 years old. He snorts a lot. Two weeks ago, CBS News did a piece on him, and he also recently posed naked for ESPN The Magazine’s Body Issue; unlike Courtney Force the drag racer, he didn’t insist a gasoline can hide his private parts.
A Bushwacker T-shirt goes for $24.99 on the PBR website. A Chris Shivers T-shirt costs $11.99. Shivers is a two-time PBR champion.
Justin McBride, another PBR champion who went to UNLV for a little while, has a music CD out called “Everybody Loves a Cowboy.” It has been marked down from $11.95 to $5.99.
You can’t buy a J.B. Mauney T-shirt or a J.B Mauney music CD from the official PBR online shop. Not yet, anyway. Perhaps by the time the PBR holds its World Finals here in October you’ll be able to get all kinds of J.B. Mauney gear.
Every rider and stock contractor from a three- or four-state area climbed onto the chutes midway through his historic ride at the BOK Center in Tulsa on Saturday when Bushwacker jumped this way and Mauney slid that way.
The riders and contractors usually climb onto the chutes only when they think something remarkable might happen, or to signal for an ambulance.
There were eight jumps and eight countering moves. At the whistle, the score was 95.25 points, which is high for a bull ride (though not a record.) But in this case, the score was like when the host of “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” arbitrarily would award one of the improvisational funny men 5,000 points, or 10,000. The score really didn’t matter.
It was only the third time Bushwacker had been ridden, but the first time since he became a mature bucking bull. The last man to ride Bushwacker was a cowboy from Elko named Markus Mariluch, who sounds more like a composer, or a guy who might do your taxes.
Guys who ride bad-ass bucking bulls should be named Tex or Tuff or answer to initials. Such as J.B.
J.B. Mauney from Mooresville, N.C., recently got married to the former Lexie Wiggly, which also is a fine name for the wife of a guy who rides bad-ass bucking bulls.
George Thorogood’s “Bad to the Bone” was playing on the giant speakers when J.B. Mauney flipped his hat into the air and Tulsans roared and the guy who feeds Bushwacker — and pets him when he can get away with it — a guy named Kent Cox, began to cry.
Well, he didn’t cry exactly. But the report said a tear welled in his eye, and when Cox was asked if it was a relief that Bushwacker the bull finally had been ridden after all those buck-offs, he said he didn’t know if it was a relief or not.
It would be like asking Joe DiMaggio if it was a relief that Indians third baseman Kenny Keltner had made those backhand stabs of line drives he had hit, ending the Yankee Clipper’s hitting streak at 56 games.
At a later date, Joe D. would have Marilyn Monroe to go home to, and whereas Bushwacker does not have a Mrs. Bushwacker back on the ranch in Dublin, Texas, a single straw of his bull semen fetches $3,000 from breeders, so at least there is that.
Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist Ron Kantowski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0352. Follow him on Twitter: @ronkantowski.