Oklahoma City Thunder has a ring to it. Whether that will be the name of this city's NBA franchise, as reported by KOCO-TV, still is a mystery. The team's owners aren't commenting, and they, along with a couple head honchos at the NBA's office, are the only souls who know what the nickname will be. The ones in the know are sworn to secrecy, and most are dutifully, if not masterfully, abiding by that oath. KOCO-TV sports reporter Mark Rodgers, however, apparently has found the one brave being willing to tell all, an unnamed "source close to the NBA ownership group.” There are reasons to think Rodgers' report is accurate and reasons that indicate it could be off base. Here's why it could be accurate: Corporation Service Company, the registrar of record for the NBA, did indeed register okcthunderbasketball.com and okcthunderbasketball.net on July 10. The domain branch of this company exists for the sole purpose of preventing "cybersquatters” from profiting from a brand. You can bet the company didn't register the names in hopes of acting as the very people it exists to stop. The ownership group isn't denying it. If the report was off base, you would think the ownership group would at the very least issue a statement that says as much and that no decision has been made. Instead, all Dan Mahoney, a spokesman for the ownership group, says is, "We're not commenting on the process, and we're not going to until we have something to announce.” The name Thunder is a good one. Readers of The Oklahoman selected it the winner of the paper's 64-nickname bracket contest, meaning the owners and the NBA perhaps listened to the people. Endless marketing and promotional opportunities also would be available, from weather-related themes to a Buffalo mascot and logos. AC/DC's hit song "Thunderstruck” could boom over the Ford Center's PA system just before the team's starting lineup is introduced and immediately after the final buzzer of a home win. Here's why the report could be inaccurate: The registration of the two domain names could mean absolutely nothing. Who's to say that's not the first of many Oklahoma City-related domain names the company will register over the next few days. While the domain names are one small piece of evidence, they certainly don't make it clear that the name is the Thunder. The reporter's unnamed source could be wrong. The person close to the ownership group is really what gives the report legs, but people are sometimes misled or don't have all the facts. The NBA and the ownership group could have been close to deciding on Thunder at one point, but that could have changed in recent days. The source might have provided once-accurate information that is now outdated. Thunder doesn't end in the letter "s.” Team chairman Clay Bennett has said privately he's not wild about nicknames that don't end in "s.” Names that end in "s” are also more enduring to the community, according to Tom Fugleberg, executive creative director at Olson, a Minneapolis-based branding agency. "I think there's more of a sense of a community when you are a fan of the Blazers and not the Storm,” Fegleberg said. "There's a feeling that you are a part of that.” The ownership group's silence could be working for them. Rather than deny the report if it is inaccurate, the excitement over the possible name could divert media types and fans from honing in on any other possibilities. This ownership group has used silence to its advantage in the past. Remember, the "Poisoned Well” plan the group's attorneys patiently sat on during the trial with the city of Seattle while the city leaked e-mail after e-mail they thought would incriminate the owners? Thunder is taken. Forget about the Trenton Thunder, the Double-A affiliate of the New York Yankees, and the Wichita Thunder of the Central Hockey League, there's the Oklahoma Thunder of Tulsa and the World Football League. The law might not prohibit Bennett and Co. from using the name, but marketing experts say they shouldn't want to. "You don't want your team confused with anybody else's even if it's in another sport. That doesn't help your brand,” said Vince Orza, dean of the Meinders School of Business at Oklahoma City University. Sit tight. We aren't likely to know the truth for another couple of weeks. Unless of course another few brave souls spill the beans.
Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant and his teammates may soon be known as the Thunder. ASSOCIATED PRESS Tickets going fast
Dan Mahoney said the franchise is pleased with the level of support. Fans who signed up for the ticket request list can expect to hear from sales representatives soon with more details, Mahoney said. More than 16,000 people have added their names to a ticket request list for Oklahoma City's new NBA team, the team announced Sunday. The team conducted its first phase of requests from July 2 through July 18. Fans can add their names to the request list by calling (888) 618-4667, or by registering at www.nba.com/oklahomacity.