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The Oklahoma City Thunder is a professional basketball franchise based in Oklahoma Citymarker, Oklahomamarker. They play in the Northwest Division of the Western Conference in the National Basketball Association (NBA) with their home arena at Oklahoma City's Ford Centermarker.The Thunder's NBA Development League affiliate is the Tulsa 66ers, which it also owns.

Formerly the Seattle SuperSonics, the Thunder was established in 2007 after a dispute between owner Clay Bennett and lawmakers in Seattlemarker, Washingtonmarker. As the Seattle SuperSonics, the club qualified for the NBA Playoffs 22 times, won its division six times and won the 1979 NBA Championship against the Washington Bullets.

In the franchise's first season in Oklahoma, the Thunder went 23–59 (.280), finishing 13th in the Western Conference and 26th in the league overall. The current coach is Scott Brooks, who took over for the fired P.J. Carlesimo in November 2008.

Franchise history

The final logo of the SuperSonics


1967–2008: Seattle SuperSonics

The Thunder's previous incarnation, the Seattle SuperSonics, was formed in 1967 and appeared in two consecutive Finals against the Eastern Conference champion Washington Bullets (now Washington Wizards), losing in seven games in 1978 and winning in five in 1979. Seattle's victory remains the only modern era championship in major Seattle sports history. That team included renowned players such as Spencer Haywood, Fred Brown, Jack Sikma and Finals MVP Dennis Johnson and was coached by Lenny Wilkens, who holds several historical NBA coaching records. During the course of the next decade, Seattle had moderate success until it drafted the duo of Shawn Kemp and Gary Payton in 1989 and 1990 respectively. Alongside Nate McMillan, coach George Karl and other notable players, the Sonics rose up among the rank of title contenders in the early 1990s. The team qualified for the playoffs every year between 1991 and 1998.

In the 1995–96 NBA season, the Sonics established the franchise mark for most wins, 64–18 (.720) and earned their third NBA Finals berth. Seattle met the record-setting 72–10 Chicago Bulls in the 1996 NBA Finals and lost in six games. The Sonics' fortunes slowly spiraled after that season, with most of the core retiring or departing from Seattle. The next decade would not fare better as the franchise, aside from a surprising 2004–05 NBA season in which the Sonics won 52 games, disappointed with playoff futility. The Sonics drafted cornerstones Kevin Durant and Jeff Green in the 2007 NBA Draft. Despite their talent, the club endured the worst season in franchise history in the 2007–08 NBA season, losing a team-record 62 games.

In 41 years that the SuperSonics spent in Seattle, they compiled a 1,745–1,585 (.524) win–loss record in the regular season and 107–110 (.517) in the playoffs. The franchise's titles include three Western Conference championships and one NBA title.

Creation of the team

The Ford Center began hosting the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2008.


In the aftermath of the Hurricane Katrina disaster in New Orleans, Louisianamarker, and surrounding area, the New Orleans Hornets temporarily relocated to Oklahoma City, playing the majority of their home games at the Ford Center during the 2005–06 and 2006–07 seasons. In due time, the city showed it could support the uprooted Hornets and NBA commissioner David Stern commented that Oklahoma City could support a franchise of its own.

In 2006, the SuperSonics franchise was sold to a group of Oklahoma City investors led by Clay Bennett for $350 million, a move approved by NBA owners the following October. Terms of the sale required the new ownership group to use a "Good faith best effort" for the term of 12 months in securing a new arena lease or venue in the Greater Seattle Area. Bennett then spent much of 2007 attempting to gain public funding for a new arena, or a major renovation of the KeyArenamarker. However, e-mails between Bennett and co-owner Aubrey McClendon revealed that Bennett and partners did not intend to keep the team in Seattle, WA. Quoted in the e-mail McClendon wrote, "We didn't buy the team to keep it in Seattle. We hoped to come here." After 12 months, he 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 went to Federal Court and nearly a month later the two sides reached an agreement to settle. The terms would award the city of Seattle $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, along with logo and color, was announced.

2008–09: Inaugural season

Oklahoma City hosted Minnesota and later on beat them for their first win.


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 temporary practice facility for the Thunder was at Southern Nazarene Universitymarker's Sawyer Centermarker. The same facility was used by the New Orleans Hornets.

The Thunder played several pre-season games before the 2008–2009 regular season, but only one of these games was in Oklahoma City. The Thunder made its first appearance in Billingsmarker, Montanamarker on October 8, 2008 in an 88–82 preseason loss against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The Thunder had its first Ford Center game on October 14 against the Los Angeles Clippers. In its regular season home opener, Oklahoma City faced the Milwaukee Bucks and lost 87–98. Earl Watson scored the first points of the season with a layup. Three nights later on November 2, the Thunder won its first game by defeating the Minnesota Timberwolves, improving its mark 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 would lose its next three games to tie the dubious franchise losing streak mark at 14 set the previous season in Seattle. It managed to prevent history by winning on the road at the FedExForummarker against the Memphis Grizzlies 111–103 on November 29.

The Thunder ended their first season In Oklahoma Citymarker with a win against the Los Angeles Clippers bringing their record to 23-59 improving their record of 20-62 from the previous season.

Franchise accomplishments and awards

Home arenas

Note: All arenas used before 2008 were part of the defunct Sonics franchise.

Seattle arenas had hosted two NBA All-Star Games; the 1974 edition in Seattle Center Coliseummarker and 1987 in the Kingdomemarker, where Sonic Tom Chambers grabbed MVP honors.

Players

Current roster

Former players

For the complete list of Seattle SuperSonics and Oklahoma City Thunder players see: Oklahoma City Thunder all-time roster.




Hall of Famers

  • Patrick Ewing – Center best known for playing for the New York Knicks; played for the Sonics in the 2000–01 NBA season. Inducted in 2008.
  • K.C. Jones – After being inducted in 1989, Jones coached the Sonics to two deep playoff runs in the 1991 and 1992 seasons.
  • Bill Russell – Notable for winning 11 championships for the Boston Celtics, Russell coached and led the Sonics to their first playoff appearances his time in Seattle from 1973 through 1977. Inducted in 1975.
  • Lenny Wilkens – Played point guard for the Sonics and later became a player-coach. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame twice, in 1989 as a player and in 1998 as a head coach. Wilkens coached the franchise to their only championship in 1979 and is the career leader in coaching win–loss totals.


Retired numbers

While the Oklahoma City franchise has yet to retire a jersey, the Seattle SuperSonics retired six numbers and an honorary microphone to longtime-servicing broadcaster Bob Blackburn, who had called the majority of games from 1967 through 1992.

Seattle SuperSonics retired numbers
Players
No. Player Position Years
1 Gus Williams Guard 19771984
10 Nate McMillan Guard 19871998
19 Lenny Wilkens Guard 19691972
24 Spencer Haywood Forward 19711975
32 Fred Brown Guard 19711984
43 Jack Sikma Center 19781986
Coaches
No. Coach Wins/Losses Years
19 Lenny Wilkens 121–125

357–277
19691972

19781985


Staff

Head coaches

Other

General managers

Logo and uniforms

The Oklahoma City Thunder unveiled its 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 local Oklahoma sports teams such as the Oklahoma Sooners and Oklahoma State Cowboys. The uniform design was unveiled on September 29, 2008.

Image:OKCNBA Home.gif|
Home
Image:OKCNBA Away.gif|
Away


Television and radio

Radio

All Thunder games are broadcast on the Thunder Radio Network , led by the flagship stations WWLS-FMmarker 98.1 and WWLS AM 640, "The Sports Animal". Matt Pinto is the radio voice of the Thunder.

TV

The Thunder's TV broadcasts are split between Fox Sports Oklahoma (a regional fork of FS Southwest), which broadcasts most of the games, and independent station KSBImarker (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 pre-game shows. Around 15-20 regular season games are broadcast over-the-air on KSBImarker, which has 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. Beginning with the 2009-2010 season, KSBI will telecast the Oklahoma City Thunder games it airs in high definition (KSBI had previously aired the first regular season game played in Oklahoma City at the Ford Center on October 29, 2008 against the Milwaukee Bucks in HD, while all other games during the 2008-2009 season were telecast on KSBI in standard-definition).

References

  1. SNU Sawyer Center
  2. Oklahoma City NBA team to face hectic pace in preseason
  3. ESPN - Allen breaks NBA season record for 3-pointers - NBA
  4. Sonics' 40th Anniversary Team NBA.com, retrieved 07-26-2008
  5. Gary Payton NBA.Com Bio NBA.com. Retrieved July 26, 2008.
  6. Lenny Wilkens Coach Info NBA.com retrieved July 23, 2007
  7. Thunder 'flashes' new uniforms, September 29, 2008
  8. Kelly Dwyer, Introducing your Oklahoma City Light Blue Knicks, September 29, 2008


External links




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