If you want NBA, time is now
Venture can work in OKC, but everyone must pull together

by Berry Tramel Published: March 4, 2008
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We find out today whether Oklahoma City goes major league, but up or down on the vote doesn't change this: OKC is a marginal NBA market.

If the Sonics come to Oklahoma City, they are not a home run. Not a slam dunk. Not an automatic success story. This is not like the Dodgers going to Los Angeles.

The NBA in OKC is like the NBA in San Antonio. Or Sacramento. Or Salt Lake City. It can work, and it can work famously. But only with everyone in sync. Only with everyone pulling together.

That's why today's vote is the perfect storm for Oklahoma City's NBA hopes. Never again will the stars align to make our major-league hopes so accessible.

If you want to vote no today, that's perfectly valid. If you believe the city doesn't need the NBA, or tax dollars shouldn't fund an arena in which to host LeBron and Shaq, fine. Those who argue that there are too many government subsidies are right.

But don't vote no because you think the NBA will come anyway. Don't vote no because you think the city will figure out a plan to entice the Sonics regardless. Don't vote no because you think this chance will come around again soon enough.

This is one of those rare wrinkles in time, when man-made and God-made forces have put Oklahoma City in a position unthinkable a mere three years ago.

"The brass ring is fleeting,” said Rick Horrow, the sports consultant who helped Oklahoma City put together the MAPS project 15 years ago and helped with the current campaign. "This is a classic case of being able to seize the moment.”

Think of all the events that converged to make Oklahoma City on the cusp of major-league status.

* Hurricane Katrina, which displaced the Hornets and landed them in our laps, to great acclaim. Such a dress rehearsal is rare in American sport; responding in such frenzied fashion is unprecedented. Oklahoma City was prepared, with the Ford Center, for such temporary landlording, but the fans had to respond, too.

* OKC ownership of another NBA franchise. Clay Bennett, Aubrey McClendon and friends found a franchise for sale, just as the Sonics' lease was nearing an end and just as NBA passion in Oklahoma City exploded. Oklahoma County polling sites Interactive: NBA database

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by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The...
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