IT smarted when NBA Commissioner David Stern announced that the preseason schedule has been canceled due to the failure to reach a labor accord. But talk that the first two weeks of the regular season could be canceled as early as Monday is much more painful.
Scores of Oklahoma City Thunder fans are starving for their first fix of Thunder fever this season, and it might be postponed until mid-November — or longer. That's tough to take.
To say the Thunder captured the hearts of the city, and even the state, during its playoff run to the Western Conference finals last season would be an understatement. Thunder T-shirts became a hot item, and Thunder signs and car flags popped up across the city. People who had never watched NBA games jumped on the Thunder bandwagon. TV ratings records were shattered, with some local ratings rivaling that of University of Oklahoma football telecasts.
Unfortunately, discussion of what the Thunder will do for an encore this season has been replaced by talk of NBA labor negotiations. The patience of many fans is tested in watching players battle owners for a greater share of the revenue.
If the lockout continues, downtown businesses stand to lose plenty. Hotels, restaurants, bars and clubs in and around downtown have grown accustomed to seeing their receipts increase considerably when the Thunder plays at home.
Jeannette Breckenridge, executive director of the Bricktown Association, said Bricktown would be hurt most midweek because the entertainment district thrives on weekends. “Certainly we love our Thunder, and the activity and the traffic it generates,” she told The Oklahoman's Michael Kimball. “But we're going to grin and bear it and wait and see what happens.”