The Thunder has not excelled on the public-relations front, from ticket policy to player/public interaction to general game presentation.
And here’s the perfect example of doing things the wrong way. The Thunder just fired coach P.J. Carlesimo at the absolute worst possible time.
This is no defense of Carlesimo. You can’t defend the Boomers’ performance: 1-12 is bad enough, but to get blown out every night is unforgivable. This team is non-competitive; it hasn’t been ready to compete at the NBA level, and that falls on the coach. The record falls on the front office, but the lack of effort and on-court disorganization falls on the coach.
Something had to be done, and clearly the easiest move was to put Carlesimo out of his misery.
But this was the worst possible time to do it: In the wee hours of a Saturday morning, when it will get the least bang around Oklahoma City of any other time of the week. And in the wee hours of a Saturday morning on the day of the biggest football game in the state in eight years.
OU-Texas Tech totally eclipses everything in Oklahoma today. Sometimes, that’s when you want to announce a firing, when it will draw the least eyes and ears.
Not this one. This was a firing that needed to be trumpeted. Needed to be done on the steps of city hall; needed to be leaked to The Oklahoman or the Sports Animal on a week day so that everyone could buzz about it.
The Thunder needed to send the message to the city that this start is unacceptable. That despite the long-term building plan, this kind of performance will be dealt with harshly. That’s a message OKC fans deserve, because frankly, they haven’t been given NBA basketball as promised. No one that I know of is upset with the 1-12. Almost everyone that I know of is either angered or amused by the ridiculous performance of how the Thunder got to 1-12.
Firing Carlesimo under dark of night, on a weekend, when the state’s sports fan has moved into serious football mode, means the gesture will lose its PR value.
There will be Thunder fans who don’t even realize the move has happened until Monday morning. Many of those who do hear the news will be so football-centric, the information won’t process until after the BCS and bowl implications are figured out this weekend.
This was a prime opportunity for the Thunder to let its fans know that this franchise is committed to a lot more than just counting the money they’ve spent on so-far horrid basketball.
The Thunder let that opportunity pass.