Tag Archives: Seattle

Daily Thunder Rumblings – 15 September 2017

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Fred Katz talks about Russell Westbrook being ranked 6th in SI’s Top 100: “SI just concluded its list of top-100 players, and on the final day, it named Westbrook sixth, wedged between two Houston Rockets guards, Chris Paul, who was seventh, and James Harden, who was fifth. Two-time Defensive Player of the Year Kawhi Leonard was ranked fourth, two-time MVP Stephen Curry was third, reigning Finals MVP Kevin Durant was second and — of course — four-time MVP LeBron James was named the best in the NBA. Needless to say, Thunder fans thought Westbrook should have been ranked higher coming off an historic season, one in which he averaged a league-leading 31.6 points to go with 10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists, making him the second player ever to average a triple-double. Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson, who accomplished the feat in 1961-62, is the only other man to do it.”

A run down of all the important trades in Thunder history.

If Westbrook doesn’t sign the extension this offseason, this is the going to be the season of “are Westbrook and George both going to LA next year”: “Perhaps the deafening Los Angeles Lakers rumors are to thank for the price of George being driven into the ground, but the Thunder gladly took advantage of it and snatched up one of the NBA’s best players. They might change their tune by next summer, though, when both George and Russell Westbrook can become free agents. Westbrook has yet to sign a five-year, $207 million contract extension the Thunder have put on the table, and with a star-studded 2018 free agency class on the way, things could get very interesting around the league.”

Apparently the dance-off between Westbrook and Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr wasn’t all it was cracked up to be: “Imaginations ran wild. A dance-off between megastars Odell Beckham Jr. and Russell Westbrook.Unfortunately, it doesn’t sound like Catch NYC’s sixth anniversary party in New York City got to see all Beckham’s moves last week.”

Steven Adams’ humor is in mid-season form.

If this whole basketball thing doesn’t work out for Josh Huestis or Andre Roberson, they do have other options: “Thunder teammates Andre Roberson and Josh Huestis experienced first hand what it was like to work with a talented group that celebrated its 5A State Championship just last fall. The practice session inside the school’s gym was interrupted when Roberson and Huestis sauntered onto the court generating head turns as they were cascaded with whoops and hollers.”

Dan Favale of Bleacher Report looks at every team’s death line-up.

Steven Adams enjoying the increase in popularity of basketball in New Zealand: “Thursday’s event was sponsored by Homeland. In New Zealand, Adams’ basketball camp sponsor is “a dairy sort of company,” he said. “So it’s real weird, the kids after we do the camp, they get, like, a big block of cheese, some eggs and some bread and some milk,” Adams said. “The parents are, like, stoked, because they don’t have to go buy groceries anymore. They’re like, ‘Yes!’ It’s quirky, but it’s awesome.”

Seattle has a deal in place for a “new arena”: “If the NBA ever returns to Seattle, there could be a shiny new arena waiting. The city of Seattle and Los Angeles-based Oak View Group agreed to a $600 million renovation of KeyArena and construction could begin next year.”

 

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5 for 5: The Thunder’s Godfather

stern bennett oklahoma city thunder

5 for 5: The Longest Shortest Season  |  5 for 5: Tragedies, Courtrooms, and Beginnings  |  5 for 5: The Rivalries  |  5 for 5: The Run

This past season, the Oklahoma City Thunder completed their 5th season in the state of Oklahoma. In a world dominated by round numbers, getting to the midway point is always a cause for celebration. In any relationship, you look back at key moments that made it possible to arrive at certain anniversary marks. In the next few months, I’ll be looking at 5 defining moments that made it possible for the Thunder to not only roar into the Plains, but also to do it in winning fashion.

“What about Oklahoma City?”

Those four words are probably the most important words ever uttered when it comes to professional basketball in the state of Oklahoma. Those words were mentioned in a conversation then NBA Commissioner David Stern had with then New Orleans Hornets owner George Shinn. The context of the conversation occurred shortly after Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans in September of 2005. With much of the city destroyed and many of its citizens in exile to different parts of the country, the city of New Orleans was in no position to support either of their pro teams (the Hornets and the Saints). As Stern and Shinn were going to a list of contingency plans, Stern uttered those fateful words to Shinn.

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A lawyer by trade, Stern has always shown the chops to be prepared for any situation, and to be ready with a definitive solution. When he asked Shinn about Oklahoma City, it wasn’t asked as  inquiry. It was asked as rhetoric. Stern knew what cities were hypothetically viable to support an NBA franchise in the short term. People tend to think the only thing needed to support a pro-sports franchise is population and a venue. But there’s so much more to the equation than that. Of course, you have to have the numbers (citizens). The more people in a given area, the more it is likely that 19,000 people will purchase tickets and attend games. You have to have an arena that is technologically up to date (availability of HD cables), and able to produce revenue outside of the NBA product (in-arena restaurants, kiosks, box seats, etc.). The city has to have a business community that is willing to take risks to cover the team’s operational costs if things don’t go as planned. And you have to have a fan base that is starved to support a professional team, no matter what the circumstances or parameters are.

A few months before Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, then Oklahoma City mayor Mick Cornett made a trek to New York to discuss the possibilities of Oklahoma City someday being considered as an expansion or relocation site. He had a brand new state of the art arena and business leaders willing to assist with money and influence. But as Cornett later quipped in an interview with Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports, “…the prometrics weren’t in our favor. We had no track record of major pro sports. Stern couldn’t have been kinder, but he left us with no hope for a team.” But alas, every garden starts with but a single seed. Stern, in his due diligence, probably heeded Cornett’s request and did some research of his own.

Some of the businessmen in the Oklahoma City area had previously had dealings with Stern and the NBA, so it wasn’t like OKC was a complete anomaly to the Commissioner. One of those businessmen was Clay Bennett, who once was a principal owner of the San Antonio Spurs in the 90’s and was the team’s representative at the NBA’s Board of Governors. Bennett probably kept the words Oklahoma City within an earshot of Stern every time they spoke. Even though the “prometrics weren’t in (OKC’s) favor” as Mayor Cornett stated, the fact that Oklahoma City was trying (MAPS I and II, Ford Center, downtown renovation), and was constantly being mentioned by associates of Stern probably kept the city in the back of Stern’s mind.

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So when Stern proposed that question to Shinn, he knew that he would be met with some opposition. As soon as you mention Oklahoma, most people outside of the region think of 3 things:  The Dust Bowl, the musical, and the Murrah building bombing. A progressive city was probably not on the list of adjectives to describe Oklahoma City. But Stern had already done his research and knew that OKC already had most of the components in place to be a successful temporary relocation site. They had the venue, just enough citizens in the metro and surrounding areas, and the business leaders. All he needed to do was convince Shinn that this would be a viable relocation site.

As is the case with the spirit of Oklahoma, when we are given a chance, we usually shine. When Cornett and Bennett made their presentation to Shinn, he was blown aback with the viability of this option. The business leaders of the City, led by Bennett, provided Shinn with a revenue guarantee. Basically, the business leaders would foot the bill if certain revenue goals were not met. With a new arena, the backing of the City’s business leaders and Stern, and not many other viable options, the decision was made to grant Oklahoma City 35 guaranteed home games for the 2005-06 NBA season.

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With that, OKC was welcomed into the professional sports brotherhood, even if it was only temporary. And Oklahomans voraciously ate it up. We had always wanted to eat at the big boy table, and now, from out of nowhere, this opportunity was bestowed upon us. Fans came in flocks to attend a New Orleans/Oklahoma City (NOK) Hornets game. The uncertainty of how long the team would stay kept some people from becoming too attached to the team. But even with that, the team sold out over half of its games that were played in Oklahoma City. The Hornets, who had finished last in attendance the previous season, went from averaging 14,221 fans to 18,168 fans, which was a 78% increase.

With the revenue goals, not only met, but vastly exceeded, and New Orleans still in rebuild mode, the team and the NBA decided that Oklahoma City would get another season of Hornets basketball. With that increase in revenue, the team decided to trade for defensive center Tyson Chandler and sign sharp-shooter Peja Stojakovic to a near max contract. OKC would get 35 home games, while New Orleans would get the remaining 6 home games.

Attendance started strong, with OKC selling out 6 of their first 10 home games. But when the word came that it was a certainty that the Hornets would return to New Orleans, attendance, understandably, waned a bit. But it was during that time frame, that another domino got put into place.

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After failing to buy a majority stake of the Hornets from Shinn, Clay Bennett decided to set his sights on the Seattle Supersonics. The Sonics, and Stern for that matter, had been embroiled in a bitter dispute with the city over the viability of their venue, Key Arena. After putting the money up for the baseball stadium and the football stadium, the city was not in the mood to pay over $500 million to subsidize another arena.

The team’s then owner Howard Schultz was losing money because of the team’s lease with the arena, and because of attendance issues. He sold the team to an outsider hoping that even the veiled threat of relocation would send the city into action to build a brand new arena. Instead, the city passed Initiative-91 which prohibited Seattle from supporting teams with city tax dollars. This initiative basically doomed any new stadium being built in the city of Seattle.

Clay Bennett gave the city an ultimatum of 12 months to approve a plan for a new arena. When that time ran its course, he put in motion plans to move the team to Oklahoma City. He was met with opposition and litigation, but in the end, the city felt it would be better if Bennett payed a hefty sum to get out of the lease instead of waiting the lease out and getting nothing in return.

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Adam Silver took over for Stern as NBA Commissioner on February 1st, 2014. But much like the space between presidential election day and presidential inauguration day, the real Silver era doesn’t begin until after the All-Star break. This space in between from Feb 1st – 14th is more of a hybrid era where we praise the exiting commish and wonder what the new commish has in store.

So in this hybrid period, I just wanted to say to Mr. Stern, “Thank you.” Thank you for giving Oklahoma City a chance at proving it’s worth as a pro-sports city. The process of OKC getting a team was a messy mixture of tragedy, finances, and politics. A lot like Marlon Brando’s character in The Godfather, Stern acted as an objective facilitator to Oklahoma City and helped us step into the world of professional sports.

5 for 5: Tragedies, Courtrooms, and Beginnings

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5 for 5: The Longest Shortest Season  |  5 for 5: The Rivalries  |  5 for 5: The Run  |  5 for 5: The Thunder’s Godfather

This past season, the Oklahoma City Thunder completed their 5th season in the state of Oklahoma. In a world dominated by round numbers, getting to the midway point is always a cause for celebration. In any relationship, you look back at key moments that made it possible to arrive at certain anniversary marks. In the next few weeks heading into training camp, I’ll be looking at 5 defining moments that made it possible for the Thunder to not only roar into the Plains, but also to do it in winning fashion.

For the first defining moment, you have to, of course, start at the beginning. But, it’s not the beginning that you think. While the Thunder were established in 2008, the road to having them in OKC began in December 1994. It was during that time that Timothy McVeigh visited and decided that the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building would be the site of his mayhem.

After meticulously planning and gathering the necessary materials, McVeigh, and his accomplice Terry Nichols, put their plan into action for April of 1995. They rented a Ryder moving truck on April 15th in Kansas and packed it with its deadly payload on the 17th and 18th. The next day, they drove down to Oklahoma City where, at 9:02 AM, they detonated the 4,800 pound monster that resided inside of the Ryder truck. The blast completely dismantled the north side of the building leaving countless people injured and 168 dead in its wake. It was the deadliest terroristic attack on US soil that the nation had seen up to that point.

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Once the smoke cleared though, the choice was clear. We would not stand to be known by the evil of the tragedy, but by the fortitude with which we recovered. We chose to be known by the way we rose together, instead of by the way we momentarily got knocked down. That mindset, which comes naturally to Oklahomans, galvanized us to remember those lost, while also promising them that we would rise stronger than before. The possibilities were there, but the question was how would be we get there?

While the Metropolitan Area Projects Plan (MAPS) had already been approved for by the beginning of 1994, the bombing acted as a catalyst to make MAPS a rousing success. One of the things that MAPS brought with it was a state of the art arena called the Ford Center that could host concerts and sporting events, especially hockey and basketball. Opening in 2002, the Ford Center served its purpose hosting top notch concerts, preseason basketball games, and minor league hockey. Continue reading 5 for 5: Tragedies, Courtrooms, and Beginnings

Sacramento Kings vs. Oklahoma City Thunder preview (Game 81 of 82)

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Today’s game day preview is brought to you by the letter W and the number 1. The magic number for the Oklahoma City Thunder to clinch the number 1 spot in the Western Conference is one. A Thunder win (W) or a San Antonio Spurs loss will get us there. Considering the Thunder game is on before the Spurs game, we’ll hopefully know if the Thunder have clinched so that Spurs coach Gregg Popovich can make a decision whether to rest his starters or not.

It would be the first No. 1 seed in the Thunder’s history and would put a rousing exclamation point on a season that began in such disarray with the James Harden trade. It would be an assertion of the hard work and dedication that the Thunder place on “getting better.” When a top player on a team leaves, others have to step up. And that’s what all the Thunder players have done. From Kevin Durant on down to Hasheem Thabeet, every player in the rotation has improved in some facet of his game.

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But let’s not count our chickens before they hatch just yet. The Thunder still have a game to play and must win it to ensure that the No.1 seed doesn’t come down to the final game of the season. The Sacramento Kings come into the game having lost 6 of their last 7 games. It’s been a bumpy ride for the Kings and their fans this entire season, as they have had to handle immature players, internal strife, and insecurities about whether the team will be playing in Sacramento or Seattle next season. Luckily for the Kings, the 16th technical that DeMarcus Cousins received in their last game was rescinded, and he’ll be able to play in the game tonight. The Thunder have won both games against the Kings this season, and look to sweep their Pacific division rivals in Oklahoma City.

Probable Starting Lineup

Sacramento Kings

  • PG – Isaiah Thomas
  • SG – Tyreke Evans
  • SF – John Salmons
  • PF – Jason Thompson
  • C – DeMarcus Cousins

Oklahoma City Thunder

  • PG – Russell Westbrook
  • SG – Thabo Sefolosha
  • SF – Kevin Durant
  • PF – Serge Ibaka
  • C – Hasheem Thabeet

3 Keys to the Game

1. Playoff Spoilers – There’s nothing better for a team out of the playoff race than to ruin a playoff team’s night. The Kings know the Thunder are playing for something. This will be akin to a playoff game for Sacramento. The Thunder need not give this young team any inklings of hope to turn this into a game.

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2. Turnovers – Young teams feast on turnovers. It’s the life blood that keeps them in games. The Kings have the ability to turn a live ball turnover on one side of the court into a fast break score on the other in the blink of an eye. Protecting the ball will be key to limiting the Kings’ offensive  opportunities.

NBA: Sacramento Kings at Oklahoma City Thunder

3. Hasheem – He did a good job on JJ Hickson in the Portland game, but Cousins is a different type of player. He has a vast skill set with the ability to hit 20 footers consistently or post up in the paint. He should be consistently averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds, but is derailed most of the time by his immaturity and frustration. Hasheem will have his hands full tonight and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Nick Collison get his fair share of minutes.