Thunder following the Portland model
When Clay Bennett and Co. purchased the Seattle SuperSonics, he said he wanted to pursue the San Antonio model in terms of ownership. And when Bennett hired Spurs whiz-kid Sam Presti to be general manager, Presti also embraced the San Antonio model as a way to run an NBA franchise.
But truth is, the Thunder is following the Portland model.
The Trail Blazers play in the Ford Center tonight and bring a salty team to town: 30-18 record and the No. 4 slot in the Western Conference standings.
Not too long ago, Portland was in the same rebuilding phase as the Thunder is today. In fact, the Blazers are two years ahead of OKC on almost every step of the building process. The similarities are remarkable.
* Both franchises were among the most consistent in the NBA. They weren’t in the elite; both won a championship in the late ’70s and haven’t won again. But Portland had no losing record from 1989 to 2006; the Sonics had no losing record from 1987 to 2003. Every other franchise during those 20 years had at least one losing season.
* In 2003, Portland finished 50-32 and had a bevy of talent, led by Rasheed Wallace, Zach Randolph and Bonzi Wells. In 2005, Seattle finished 52-30 and had ballplayers like Ray Allen, Rashard Lewis and Vladimir Radmonovic.
* The good times didn’t last. Portland fell to 41-41 in 2003-04 amid bad attitudes and bad behavior. The city soured on the franchise it had adored. The Sonics fell to 35-47 in 2005-06 amid arena hassles and threats of moving. The city soured on the franchise it had adored.
* The franchises bottomed out. Portland dropped to 27-55, 21-61 and 32-50 the next three seasons as it purged its roster. The Sonics/Thunder dropped to 31-51, 20-62 and, now, 11-38, as it purged its roster.
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