Will The Thunder Raise A Northwest Division Championship Banner?
The Thunder earned its first Northwest Division title with a win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night.
So how will the franchise commemorate it?
Expect a banner to be raised to the rafters inside the Oklahoma City Arena.
NBA franchises have long honored their divisional-championship-winning teams with such ceremonies. And the Thunder, an organization that has operated in nothing but class in its first three seasons, in all likelihood will plan a similar celebration to honor the team’s achievement. It’s not a question of if. It’s a matter of when.
Historically, banner-raising ceremonies have been carried out in one of four ways: before the game immediately following the clinching win, before the team’s final game of the regular season, before the team’s first game of the playoffs, or before the team’s first game of the following season.
Tonight’s game against Denver is the first chance the Thunder will have to lift a brand new banner. No official announcement of the team’s plans has been made, but don’t bet on a banner being unveiled tonight. It doesn’t fit the ‘Thunder Way.’
This is an organization that has quickly established a structure system, with two of its leading tenets being timing and tastefulness. The Thunder is a team that will never celebrate an accomplishment when there is still business to be handled. We also know the Thunder to be a no-flash, no-frills operation that almost fearfully guards against any sort of distraction. And with four regular season games remaining, a pre-game banner-raising celebration could be just that, something that potentially could take the focus off of finishing the task at hand.
The Thunder, of course, has never and will never (at least under current ownership and management) seek to attract additional attention. When this 2010-11 squad gets its salute, it probably will be in the most low-key slot available. But it’s coming and rightfully so.
Oklahoma City essentially is starting from scratch. The Thunder has no real heritage, no NBA championships, no retired numbers, no sellout streaks. All OKC has hanging from its rafters is a blue banner commemorating the Thunder’s establishment three years ago.
Technically, the franchise’s achievements from the Seattle SuperSonics’ days belong to the Thunder. But who in OKC wants that? Which is why Wednesday’s win was so significant. It signaled the official start to this city building its own tradition of NBA excellence. And don’t believe for one second that division titles don’t deserve trumpeting. They’re much too hard to come by to not take pride in.
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