NBA Finals: Commissioner David Stern thinks fondly of Oklahoma City

NBA commissioner David Stern told Mick Cornett to “pursue another league” years ago, but now can't praise Oklahoma City enough.
By John Rohde Published: June 12, 2012

The Hornets remained for two seasons (2005-07) and sold out 30 home games at what was then the Ford Center.

After a one-year hiatus from the league, OKC's heart grew fonder, SuperSonics ownership chairman Clay Bennett relocated his franchise here after the 2007-08 season, and the Thunder was born.

Following a 3-29 start with a gutted roster, the Thunder slowly climbed to respectability and finished its inaugural season 23-59 (.280).

The following season brought a 27-win improvement to 50-32 (.610), which tied for the eighth best one-year turnaround in NBA history.

That was followed by a 55-27 (.671) record with an appearance in the Western Conference Finals.

This season brought the highest winning percentage yet at 47-19 (.712) and a trip to the Finals that consisted of conquests over the defending champion Dallas Mavericks, the 16-time champion Los Angeles Lakers and four-time champion San Antonio Spurs.

“Mayor Mick and Clay Bennett and the business community and everyone sort of stepped up and recognized that they were going to be, in effect, taking care of a borrowed team with a tragedy of its own that it was dealing with,” Stern said.

“And the NBA, all of our owners, our fans even, were so warmed by that, that it enhanced greatly the opportunity for Oklahoma City to have a team. I said it was a failure of ours that we were not able to persuade Seattle that there should be a new building, and we didn't like the fact that the team moved. We approved it, but that was what happened, and Oklahoma City has not disappointed the NBA, the people of Oklahoma, or all of our owners and fans around the world.”

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