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Berry Tramel


Oklahoma City Thunder: New book to chronicle OKC’s ascension

by Berry Tramel Published: April 16, 2012

The Hornets arrived in Oklahoma City in September 2005, and the Thunder came in July 2008. Now we can barely remember what the sporting life in OKC was like before the NBA. Before the days get too distance from the genesis of this remarkable success story, David Holt wrote a book to chronicle the tale of Oklahoma City becoming a major-league city.

Holt, now a state senator and chief of staff for OKC mayor Mick Cornett back in 2005, has written Big League City: Oklahoma City’s Rise to the NBA, which will be released next week.

Holt says “the arrival of major league sports in Oklahoma City was the most significant positive development in the city’s history since the Land Run of 1889. This attempt to comprehensively tell the story is first and foremost intended as a gift to Oklahoma City’s historical record.”

Now, I think Holt is probably overstating the case. The state capital’s arrival in 1908, from Guthrie, was no small event, plus you’ve got the OU medical school, which spawned the medical corridor, and you’ve got the construction of Will Rogers World Airport and the emergence of Devon and Chesapeake (without which there is no NBA team here).

But Holt’s general thesis is solid. The NBA in OKC was a major event in our city’s history. Holt supplies some interesting details of the wild story of the Hornets’ relocation in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, plus some of the inside scoop (from the city’s perspective) of the relocation of the Seattle SuperSonics to Oklahoma City.

You never know how a story will turn out, and this one is just getting started. Back in the 1990s, Joe Drape wrote In The Hornets’ Nest, a book about Charlotte’s first season as an NBA city and how George Shinn established the franchise and what a runaway success it was. The Hornets led the NBA in attendance for several years running. Of course, Shinn eventually moved the Hornets out of Charlotte, and now Shinn has sold his franchise to the league, and Charlotte has another franchise, the Bobcats, that has a dismal following.

So you never know. But for now, the Thunder rides high, and the OKC NBA experience has been tremendous. David Holt tells us how we got here. The book will be celebrated with a kickoff (tipoff?)/book signing from 5-7 p.m. April 27, at Full Circle Books in Oklahoma City.


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by Berry Tramel
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 Oklahoman,...
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