Oklahoma City Thunder
|Oklahoma City Thunder|
Oklahoma City Thunder
|Arena||Chesapeake Energy Arena|
|City||Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, U.S.|
|Team colors||Light Blue, Sunset, Yellow, Navy Blue, White
|Owner(s)||Professional Basketball Club LLC (Clayton Bennett, Chairman)|
|General manager||Sam Presti|
|Head coach||Scott Brooks|
|D-League affiliate||Tulsa 66ers|
|Conference titles||4 (1978, 1979, 1996, 2012)|
|Division titles||9 (1979, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2005, 2011, 2012, 2013)|
The Oklahoma City Thunder are an American professional basketball franchise based in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. They play in the Northwest Division of the Western Conference in the National Basketball Association (NBA); their home court is at Chesapeake Energy Arena. The Thunder's NBA Development League affiliate is the Tulsa 66ers, who are owned by the Thunder. The Thunder are the only team in the Major professional North American sports leagues located in the state of Oklahoma.
Formerly the Seattle SuperSonics, the team relocated in 2008 after a dispute between owner Clay Bennett and lawmakers in Seattle, Washington. The SuperSonics qualified for the NBA Playoffs 22 times, won their division six times and won the 1979 NBA Championship. In Oklahoma City, the Thunder qualified for their first playoff berth during the 2009–10 season. They followed this success by winning their first division title as the Thunder in the 2010–11 season and their first Western Conference championship as the Thunder in the 2011–12 season, appearing in the NBA Finals for the fourth time in franchise history and first since 1996, when the club was based in Seattle.
1967–2008: Seattle SuperSonics
The Thunder's previous incarnation, the Seattle SuperSonics, were formed in 1967. In their 41 years in Seattle, the SuperSonics compiled a 1,745–1,585 (.524) win–loss record in the regular season and 107–110 (.493) in the playoffs. The franchise's titles include three Western Conference championships and one NBA title in 1979.
In 2006, the SuperSonics were sold for $350 million to a group of Oklahoma City investors led by Clay Bennett, a move approved by NBA owners the following October. In 2007, Bennett announced that the franchise would move to Oklahoma City as soon as the lease with KeyArena expired.
In June 2008, a lawsuit between the City of Seattle and Bennett regarding Bennett's attempts to break the final two years of the Sonics' lease at KeyArena went to federal court, and nearly a month later the two sides reached an agreement to settle. The terms awarded the city $45 million to get out of the remaining lease at KeyArena, and could provide an additional $30 million payment to Seattle in 2013 if certain conditions are met. The owners agreed to leave the SuperSonics name, logo and colors in Seattle for a possible future NBA franchise; however, the items would remain the property of the Oklahoma City team along with other "assets," including championship banners and trophies. On September 3, 2008, the team name, logo, and colors for the Oklahoma City franchise were revealed to the public. The name "Thunder" was chosen due to Oklahoma being a frequent victim of powerful storms for its location in the Tornado Alley, and Oklahoma City housing the 45th Infantry Division, the Thunderbirds.
2008–2009: Inaugural season in Oklahoma City
The Thunder participated in the Orlando Pro Summer League featuring their second-year players, potential free agents and rookies. The players wore generic black and white jerseys reading "OKC-NBA" against an outline of a basketball. The Thunder's temporary practice facility was the Sawyer Center at Southern Nazarene University, which had been used by the New Orleans Hornets when they relocated to Oklahoma City after Hurricane Katrina.
The Thunder played several preseason games before the 2008–2009 regular season, but only one of those games was in Oklahoma City. The Thunder made their first appearance in Billings, Montana on October 8, 2008 in an 88–82 preseason loss against the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Thunder played their first Ford Center game on October 14 against the Los Angeles Clippers.
In their regular-season home opener, the Thunder faced (and lost to) the Milwaukee Bucks. Earl Watson scored the first points of the season with a layup. Three nights later on November 2, the Thunder won their first game as a franchise by defeating the Timberwolves, improving their record to 1–3. The team then went on a 10-game losing streak before deciding on November 22 to fire head coach P. J. Carlesimo and assistant Paul Westhead. Assistant coach Scott Brooks then took over on an interim basis. Oklahoma City lost its next four games to tie the dubious franchise losing streak of 14 set in Seattle the previous season. But the team managed to prevent history by winning their next game on the road against the Memphis Grizzlies.
As the season continued, the Thunder began to improve. After starting 3–29, the Thunder finished the regular season 20–30 for the remaining fifty games. Not only were they winning more often, they played much more competitively than in the first part of the season. The team brought their record to 23–59 and improved upon their record of 20–62 from the team's final season in Seattle. The late-season successes of the Thunder contributed to the signing of Scott Brooks as the team's official head coach.
After moving to Oklahoma City from Seattle, the team's operating situation improved markedly. In December 2008, Forbes Magazine estimated the team's franchise value at $300 million – a 12% increase from the previous year's $268 million when the club was located in Seattle. Forbes also noted an increase in percentage of available tickets sold, from 78% in the team's last year in Seattle to 100% in 2008–09.
2009–2010: The turnaround season
After an inaugural season filled with many adjustments, the Thunder hoped to improve during their second season in Oklahoma City. Oklahoma City did not make any major moves in the offseason, other than drafting James Harden from Arizona State University with the third overall pick in the NBA Draft. The Thunder selected Rodrigue Beaubois with the 25th pick in the 2009 draft before immediately trading him to the Dallas Mavericks for the 24th pick, C Byron Mullens from Ohio State University. The team then added veterans C Etan Thomas and G Kevin Ollie. The last major change to their roster occurred on December 22, 2009, when the team traded for Eric Maynor from the Utah Jazz. Maynor immediately supplanted Ollie as the backup point guard.
From the outset the young team looked determined and cohesive. The increasing leadership of Kevin Durant, along with the growing experience of the Thunder's younger players (including future All-Star Russell Westbrook, Harden and Serge Ibaka), were encouraging signs that the Thunder were improving. The 2009–10 season included several victories over the NBA's elite teams, including a 28-point blowout over the Eastern Conference champion Orlando Magic and a 16-point blowout of the reigning NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers. Road victories over the San Antonio Spurs, Utah Jazz, Miami Heat, Boston Celtics and Dallas Mavericks greatly enhanced their reputation. Though they hovered around .500 for the first half of the season, they eventually went on a 9-game winning streak that sent them into serious playoff contention. Kevin Durant became the youngest player in league history to win the scoring title, averaging 30.1 points per game while playing in all 82 games.
The Thunder finished 50–32, more than doubling their win total from the previous season. The 50–32 tied with the 2008 Golden State Warriors as the best 8th seed in the modern Playoffs era, at least in terms of record. The Oklahoma City Thunder also had the same record as the Boston Celtics in this season. They finished fourth in the Northwest Division and eighth in the Western Conference playoff standings, and earned a spot in the 2010 NBA Playoffs. On April 22, the team secured their first playoff win in Oklahoma City when they defeated the defending-champion Los Angeles Lakers 101–96. This was also the Thunder's first playoff win at the Ford Center. However, the Thunder tied the series at 2 games each, but the Lakers won the last 2 games in the series to win it 4-2. (One of these games was in Oklahoma City.)
Oklahoma City ranked twelfth in overall attendance in the NBA, and seventh in percentage of available seats occupied (98%, including 28 sellouts in 41 home games). The team's operating situation also continued to improve in 2009–10. Forbes Magazine estimated the team's franchise value at $310 million (an increase of $10 million over the prior year) with an estimated operating profit of $12.7 million (the first operating profit in years for the franchise).
2010–2011: Rise to prominence
Financially, the Thunder organization continued to build on the positive returns experienced from relocating from Seattle to Oklahoma City. In January 2011, Forbes Magazine estimated the franchise's worth at $329 million, up 6% from 2009–10 and ranking No. 18 in the NBA. The magazine also estimated the franchise's revenue at $118 million and operating profit at $22.6 million – up 6.3% and 78%, respectively, from the previous year. The Thunder finished the 2010–2011 season with a 55–27 record, a five-win increase from their breakout season the previous year. The team also captured their first division title since moving to Oklahoma City, and seventh in franchise history.
In the wake of a fourth-seed versus fifth-seed match-up against the Denver Nuggets, Kevin Durant scored 41 points in Game 1 to set a new career playoff high. In the final game of the series, he again scored 41 and forward Serge Ibaka nearly tied the record for most blocks in a playoff game (10, set by Mark Eaton, Hakeem Olajuwon and Andrew Bynum) with 9 blocks. With the victory, the Thunder won the series, 4 games to 1, set to face off against the Memphis Grizzlies who achieved an eight-seed upset over the San Antonio Spurs just days before. The Thunder advanced to the Western Conference Finals with a seven-game series triumph over the Grizzlies. Durant was again the star, scoring 39 points in the clinching Game 7, while Russell Westbrook also had a triple-double. Despite hard-fought battles with the eventual NBA champs, the Thunder fell to the Dallas Mavericks 4–1 in the Western Conference Finals. The Thunder had a chance to tie the series in Game 4, but they were unable to hold a 15-point lead with five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter and ended up losing in overtime by the score of 112–105.
2011–2012: Making the Finals
During the extended lockout, Thunder players (notably Durant, Harden, Ibaka and Thabo Sefolosha) played in exhibitions in the United States and in other countries[clarification needed] to stay in shape. When the abbreviated training camp began, OKC started with an intact roster and all players, with the exception of Russell Westbrook, under contract up for the near future. In addition, Kendrick Perkins lost more than 30 pounds during the lockout. The Thunder made their two pre-season appearances, after the lockout, against the Dallas Mavericks, winning both games. They won their first regular-season game against Orlando at home and went on a five-game winning streak. Kevin Durant became the sixth player to score 30 or more points in four consecutive games at the start of a season. In addition, the Thunder was the first to sweep their back-to-back-to-back games, winning a home-and-home series with the Houston Rockets, then routing the San Antonio Spurs. In addition, Thunder players Durant, Westbrook, Harden, Perkins, and Ibaka made it onto the 2012 All-Star ballots. After the Thunder's win over the Utah Jazz on February 11, 2012, Scott Brooks was named the Head Coach of the Western Conference All-Star squad for the 2012 NBA All-Star Game in Orlando, Florida.
In the 2012 NBA Playoffs, the Thunder swept the defending champion Dallas Mavericks in the first round to advance and face off against their first-round foes from 2010, the Los Angeles Lakers. They defeated the Lakers in five games and advanced to play the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Finals. The Thunder lost the first two games against the Spurs but won the next three including a Game 5 road win, to take a commanding 3–2 game lead in the series. In Game 6, the Thunder defeated the Spurs 107–99 and advanced to the 2012 NBA Finals. Durant led the way with 34 points, playing all of regulation time in the game. In the 2012 NBA Finals against the Miami Heat, the Thunder won the first game at home but then lost four in a row and lost the series in five games.
2012–present: Pursuit of NBA championship
In the 2012 NBA Draft, the Thunder selected Baylor University forward Perry Jones III with the 28th overall pick. The Thunder also signed free agents Hasheem Thabeet, Daniel Orton and signed guards Andy Rautins, and DeAndre Liggins, as well as re-signing forward Serge Ibaka to a 4-year, $48 million extension. After failing to sign James Harden to an extension that was worth 4 years and $52 million, OKC decided to trade Harden rather than having to pay the luxury tax penalty. On October 27, 2012 the Thunder traded Harden along with center Cole Aldrich, and forwards Daequan Cook and Lazar Hayward to the Houston Rockets for Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb, two first round draft picks from Toronto and Dallas and one second round draft pick. Martin took over Harden's sixth-man role for the season. The Oklahoma City Thunder finished off with a 60-22 season, taking both the Northwest division title and top seed of the Western Conference. They faceed the 8th seeded Houston Rockets in the first round of the playoffs, featuring former team member James Harden. In game 2 of the series, Russell Westbrook fell down with an injury and was forced to miss the rest of the playoffs after having knee surgery. Without the team's 2nd leading scorer, the Thunder, who had a 3-0 lead, allowed the Rockets to bring series back to 3-2. In game 6, the Thunder defeated the Houston Rockets to advance to the second round of the NBA playoffs, facing a rematch of the 2011 second round, Memphis Grizzlies. The Thunder lost the series 4-1, losing 4 straight after winning Game 1 at home.
Franchise accomplishments and awards
Single game records
|Season||Record||Seed||First Round||Conference Semifinals||Conference Finals||NBA Finals||Notes|
|2009–2010||50–32||8th||Los Angeles Lakers
|Los Angeles Lakers
|San Antonio Spurs
|† Denotes Division championship|
Note: All arenas used before 2008 were part of the defunct Sonics franchise.
- Seattle Center Coliseum 1967–1978 (occasionally used during the Kingdome years when the latter was unavailable due to either Mariners or Seahawks games)
- The Kingdome 1978–1985
- Seattle Center Coliseum 1985–1994
- Tacoma Dome 1994–1995 (During Seattle Center Coliseum renovation)
- KeyArena (the remodeled and renamed Seattle Center Coliseum) 1995–2008
Chesapeake Energy Arena (2008-present)
Originally opened in 2002, Chesapeake Energy Arena was built without many of the luxury accommodations ultimately planned for it. The arena had been designed to accommodate such luxury "buildouts" should a professional sports franchise locate to the city.
A plan for such build-out improvements began in 2007 in the wake of the acquisition of the Seattle Supersonics by an Oklahoma City-based ownership group the previous October. A city ballot initiative on March 4, 2008 – approved by a 62% to 38% margin – extended a prior one-cent city sales tax for a period of fifteen months in order to fund $101 million in budgeted improvements to the arena, as well as fund a separate $20 million practice facility for a relocated franchise.
Renovation work on Chesapeake Energy Arena was delayed due to a sales tax-receipts shortfall during the 2008–10 economic crisis; eventual tax receipts totaled $103.5 million rather than the projected $121.6 million. The shortfall was accommodated by revising plans for certain features of the arena expansion project, including limiting the size of a new glass entryway and eliminating a practice court planned for above the delivery entrance of the arena. Major construction work on the arena expansion was also delayed from the summer of 2010 to the summer of 2011. Seating capacity of the stadium is 18,203 for professional NBA basketball games.
Similar revisions were made to the plans for the Thunder's separate practice facility, for a total cost savings of approximately $14 million. The Thunder's practice facility completion date was similarly pushed back to approximately March 2011.
Note: All mascots used before 2008 were part of the defunct Sonics franchise.
Rumble the Bison
On February 17, 2009, Rumble the Bison was introduced as the new Oklahoma City Thunder mascot during the halftime of a game against the New Orleans Hornets. Rumble was the winner of the 2008–2009 NBA Mascot of the Year.
During the 2012 NBA Finals, sportswriter Bill Simmons published a piece on the team's fan base in his ESPN-sponsored Web outlet, Grantland.com in which he noted the unusual enthusiasm of the city for its team. He noted,
With the possible exception of Portland, no NBA team means more to its city. This goes beyond having the loudest fans. There's genuine devotion here. These people arrived a good 45 minutes early for last night's Game 1 — and by "these people" I mean "everyone with a ticket" — then clapped their way through pregame warm-ups with such infectious enthusiasm that I remember saying to a friend, "No way these yahoos keep this up for three hours, they're going to burn out." Wrong. You know what burned out? My eardrums. My head is still ringing.
Simmons speculated that the Oklahoma City bombing played a major part in the team's culture, noting that Thunder general manager Sam Presti has every new Thunder player visit the Oklahoma City National Memorial, and encourages all players to look into the stands and consider the fact that almost all of the team's fans were personally affected by the event. He also noted, however, that the fact that the Thunder is the only team from Oklahoma City (or indeed the state) in one of the nation's four major leagues also contributes mightily to the city's devotion.
Thunder fans are also reportedly much more likely to attend major home games than most other NBA fanbases. According to a source in the ticket industry, only 5 percent of tickets to the 2012 NBA conference finals that were listed for sale on secondary market sites such as StubHub were for Thunder home games, and for every ticket listed for a Thunder home game in the 2012 NBA Finals, 10 tickets for Heat home games were listed.
Oklahoma City Thunder roster
- Kevin Durant – 2012
- For the complete list of Seattle SuperSonics players see: Seattle SuperSonics all-time roster.
Retired jersey numbers
As the Oklahoma City Thunder's original iteration, the Seattle SuperSonics retired six numbers:
- 1 Gus Williams, G, 1977–1984
- 10 Nate McMillan, G, 1986–1998; Head Coach, 2000–2005
- 19 Lenny Wilkens, G, 1968–1972; Head Coach, 1969–1972 & 1977–1985
- 24 Spencer Haywood, F, 1971–1975
- 32 Fred Brown, G, 1971–1984
- 43 Jack Sikma, C, 1977–1986
Logo and uniforms
The Oklahoma City Thunder unveiled their first logo on September 3, 2008, showing a shield with a basketball on it. According to majority owner Clay Bennett, the team's logo takes several of its elements from other Oklahoma sports teams such as the collegiate Sooners and Cowboys. The uniform design was unveiled on September 29, 2008.
An alternate uniform was unveiled on November 8, 2012, featuring only navy and white colors. Unlike their regular uniforms, the wordmarks on the alternate are written vertically.
Television and radio
For their first two seasons, the Thunder's TV broadcasts were split between Fox Sports Oklahoma (a regional fork of FS Southwest), which broadcast most of the games, and independent station KSBI (channel 52), with around 65 Thunder games airing during the season and more than half of the games available in HD on FS Oklahoma, along with other team-related programming such as pregame shows. Around 15 to 20 regular-season games were broadcast over the air on KSBI, which had a network of rebroadcasters spanning the entire state. All televised games are called by Brian Davis on play-by-play and Grant Long as color commentator. During the 2009–2010 season, KSBI telecast all Thunder games it aired in high definition (KSBI had previously aired in HD the first regular-season game played at the Ford Center – against the Milwaukee Bucks on October 29, 2008 – while all other games during the 2008–2009 season were telecast on KSBI in standard definition). On August 3, 2010, the Thunder signed a new exclusive multi-year agreement with Fox Sports Oklahoma, beginning with the 2010–11 season, ending the team's broadcasts on KSBI. On October 22, 2012, the Thunder announced that Lesley McCaslin will be the new Thunder sideline reporter.
- Darnell Mayberry (2008-04-21). "Thunder will stay in division". The Oklahoman. Retrieved 2008-07-03.
- "City Preparing Ford Center For NBA Team". The Oklahoman. 2008-07-03. Retrieved 2008-07-04.
- "OKC's NBA franchise buys Tulsa's d-league team". NewsOK. 2008-08-01. Retrieved 2008-08-01.
- "Ford Center / Oklahoma City, Oklahoma". Arena Digest. 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-05.
- "NBA approves sale of Sonics, Storm". ESPN. October 24, 2006. Retrieved 2008-07-02.
- Johns, Greg (2007-11-02). "Bennett says Sonics going to Oklahoma". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved 2008-04-02.
- "SuperSonics, Seattle reach last-minute settlement". ESPN. Retrieved 2008-07-02.
- Allen, Percy (2008-07-06). "Seattle and Oklahoma City will share the Sonics' franchise history". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 2008-07-06.
- Oklahoma City will be named Thunder, wear blue, orange, yellow, ESPN
- SNU Sawyer Center
- Sites, Phil (2008-10-08). "T'Wolves Play Spoiler". Billings Gazette. Retrieved 2008-10-09.
- Oklahoma City NBA team to face hectic pace in preseason
- Sheridan, Chris (2008-11-22). "Carlesimo fired; Brooks to take over Thunder in interim". ESPN. Retrieved 2008-11-22.
- Associated Press (2008-11-22). "Thunder snap 14-game losing streak behind Durant's 30". USA Today. Retrieved 2008-11-22.
- "NBA Team Valuations". Forbes Magazine. December 3, 2008. Retrieved 2010-05-12.[dead link]
- "Oklahoma City Thunder". Forbes magazine. December 3, 2008. Retrieved 2010-05-12.[dead link]
- Pimentel, Roger. "NBA Playoffs in Numbers: Eight Statistics You Weren’t Expecting". How To Watch Sports. Retrieved 2011-03-22.
- "2009–2010 NBA Attendance". ESPN. Retrieved 2010-04-30.
- "NBA Team Valuations". Forbes Magazine (Forbes.com Mobile). December 9, 2009. Retrieved 2010-05-12.
- "#18 Oklahoma City Thunder". Forbes Magazine (Forbes.com Mobile). January 27, 2011. Retrieved 2011-01-27.
- Mayberry, Darnell (April 6, 2011). "Thunder beats Clippers to wrap up Northwest Division title". The Oklahoman. Retrieved 2011-04-07.
- Young, Royce (2011-04-28). "Durant's epic performance in Game 5 is what legends are made of". CBS Sports. Retrieved 2012-10-15.
- Knapp, Adam. "Ford Center Arena Improvement Plan". about.com. Retrieved 2010-11-17.
- "MAPS 3 Citizens Advisory Board Presentation". City of Oklahoma City. August 24, 2010.
- Rohde, John (August 8, 2010). "Ford Center practice gym eliminated from renovations". The Oklahoman. Retrieved 2010-11-17.
- "Oklahoma City might save as much as $14 million on Ford Center renovations, practice facility". The Oklahoman. July 7, 2010. Retrieved 2010-11-17.
- Rohde, John (November 16, 2010). "Thunder practice facility set for March completion". The Oklahoman. Retrieved 2010-11-17.
- "Rumble the Bison Named NBA Mascot of the Year". NBA. Retrieved 2009-08-26.
- Simmons, Bill (June 13, 2012). "Thunder Family Values". Grantland.com. Retrieved June 4, 2013.
- Raley, Dan (2006-02-15). "Where Are They Now? Blackburn gave Sonics a voice". Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
- Thunder 'flashes' new uniforms, September 29, 2008
- Kelly Dwyer, Introducing your Oklahoma City Light Blue Knicks, September 29, 2008
- Dwyer, Kelly (2012-11-09). "The Oklahoma City Thunder unveil alternate uniforms, to mild local acclaim". Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved 2012-11-10.
- (PDF) http://www.nba.com/media/thunder/tunein_081031.pdf. Missing or empty
- Mayberry, Darnell (2008-07-30). "NBA team reaches deal with local radio station". NewsOK.com. Retrieved 2008-08-11.
- "'Thunder' roars into OKC". News9.com. 2008-09-08. Retrieved 2008-09-20.
- "FS Oklahoma to air Thunder games". The Oklahoman. 2008-09-29. Retrieved 2008-09-29.
- Mel Bracht. "KSBI to air Thunder games". The Oklahoman. Retrieved 2008-11-04.
- Thunder Signs Exclusive Television Agreement with FOX Sports Southwest NBA.com/Thunder August 3, 2010
- "OKC Thunder: Lesley McCaslin named team's courtside reporter". NewsOK.com. 2012-10-22. Retrieved 2012-10-27.