Driving home from the Thunder opener Wednesday night, I listened to ESPN radio. It focused on the World Series, of course, but also gave extensive NBA roundups.
The Thunder-Milwaukee game was not high on the list. In fact, less was said about OKC-Milwaukee than any other game. It was the last score given, and only the score was given.
ESPN’s SportsCenter, after the Laker-Clipper game, was more kind to Oklahoma City’s history-making night. The Thunder-Bucks game wasn’t the first NBA news of the show, but the OKC debut was spotlighted fairly early, by former Tulsa sportscaster John Anderson, who referred to Oklahoma’s great status in college football this season but also noted the state’s hoops heritage, listing names from Tisdale to Iba. Then ESPN showed highlights of the Thunder, which was sporting since there were very few.
And earlier Wednesday, perhaps the national benefit of having an NBA franchise was displayed. On ESPN radio, Mike Tirico and Michele Tafoya chatted in early afternoon, and Tafoya wondered about the Thunder nickname, saying it seemed to fit better in Seattle, and Tirico said not necessarily, that more rain doesn’t mean more thunder. And their show’s producer came on and said he had a source in Oklahoma weather that said Oklahoma clearly had more thunderstorms than Seattle.
The whole thing was pretty silly, but on the other hand, for about three or four minutes, the most powerful sports medium in America talked about Oklahoma City for no good reason. That kind of advertising can’t hurt.