By Ron Matthews
THE DATE — and the three words associated with it — is locked in our collective memory.
On July 2, 2008, when Clay Bennett stepped to the lectern set up inside the Skirvin hotel and opened a press conference with the words “We made it,” it was clear Oklahoma City would never be the same.
Ten years later, that is an understatement.
Thanks to superstar players like Russell Westbrook and a fan base that is impossible to miss, the letters OKC are as universally known throughout the world as PHX, MIA, ATL and other metropolitan cities. Thunder jerseys and merchandise are commonly spotted at airports and other high-traffic venues throughout the country.
The emergence of the Thunder and the city seemingly were on parallel tracks from the get-go, their reputations rising together on the world’s stage the NBA offered. It was impossible to talk about one without mentioning the other.
In a six-year stretch, the team won five Northwest Division titles, reached the Western Conference Finals four times and the NBA Finals once. Since the start of the 2009-10 season, the Thunder has compiled a won-loss record of 466-256 — the .645 winning percentage is the seven-best record in American professional sports – and reached the postseason eight times, missing out in 2014-15 because of a tiebreaker.
Meantime, the city itself was rising, literally and figuratively, with the addition of the Devon Tower to its skyline in October 2012 and the emergence of distinct districts around the ever-changing metro.
To commemorate this historic time frame, I included the business office staff in a fun Post-in notes exercise to capture favorite moments and memories over the past decade that would be used as a feature in Thunder Magazine. The response was so overwhelming and thorough, the decision was made to dedicate an entire issue to our first 10 years.
We identified 10 categories — everything from our players to our fans; our corporate partners to our staff and more – and hung 25-inch by 30-inch sheets of paper in the hallway that I affectionately called memory lane. Staff members were encouraged to share their memories and place them under the appropriate title. It made for some lively hallway discussions.
The goal was to not only share these memories with you, but also to expose some of our staff traditions, celebrations and secrets from the past 10 years.
I hope you enjoy our collective take on 10 seasons of Thunder basketball. See related story HERE.
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