It's been almost 10 months since the Seattle Super Sonics made the move to Oklahoma City. For 10 months the state of Oklahoma has heard that it is home to legions of hillbillies and others with less than average intelligence.
Oklahomans have sat and watched as ESPN and other sports outlets have called the move a travesty. These commentators said that the state could never permanently support a professional sports team. Quietly the state has taken these attacks and dealt with the name calling.
The state of Oklahoma is full of rabid sports fans. Fans so crazed by this new team that you can't walk down the street without seeing an assortment of Thunder gear. Sure, Oklahoma is primarily known as a college athletics state. But if we look at another NBA franchise moved into a state similar to Oklahoma, we will see that the Thunder already have a better following.
According to databaseBasketball.com, in the Grizzlies first year in Memphis they averaged just over 14,000 in an 18,000 seat arena. Compare that to the Thunder who are averaging just over 18,500 in a 19,000 seat arena. Significantly better, isn't it? The Grizzlies have only averaged more than 16,000 once in their short history.
Why is this comparison applicable to the Thunder?
The Grizzlies were a young bad team, just like the Thunder. Yes, the state of Oklahoma realizes that the Grizzlies do not have near the history of the Sonics but we will love our new team as much or more than Memphis fans.
Sonic fans, we understand that you are angry at Clay Bennett for all he has done.
We understand that you are angry at David Stern for allowing the move.
We understand that you are angry that the NBA owners allowed the move.
The state of Oklahoma asks that you understand that you will get another franchise. That franchise will have the name, the colors, the traditions, and the history of your beloved Sonics.
Seattle is a great city, and it does deserve a team. Maybe you didn't realize what you had until it was almost gone. Treat the 'new Sonics' like you did the mid-90s Sonics and they will be around for a long, long time.
Oklahoma will take care of the Thunder. In a few years, the Thunder and the New Sonics will prosper in the West. I, for one, eagerly anticipate a friendly rivalry between the two cities. It will make the game more enjoyable for both of our states.