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Oklahoma City can run with it: Thunder will quickly become embraced

by Berry Tramel Modified: July 20, 2008 at 12:03 am •  Published: July 20, 2008
The call came Saturday evening while driving the Northwest Passage through Watonga, returning from a Colorado vacation. KOCO's Mark Rodgers had reported the name of Oklahoma City's NBA franchise.

I was Thunderwhelmed.

But by the time we hit Yukon, Thunder had grown on me. I suspect it will grow on you, too, if that's indeed what our team will be christened by David Stern and Clay Bennett.

Half the fans will like it from the get-go — don't forget, Thunder won The Oklahoman's 64-name bracket in the spring, as voted by readers — and the other half will embrace it soon enough.

Most cities do. Can you name a fan base that despises its name, with the possible exception of Tampa Bay's Rays?

Most fans will be like my niece, who when first told of Thunder said, "Well, it's better than YardDawgz,” but who an hour later was gushing.

Everyone knows I was pulling for Thunderbirds, and the whole singular name thing is shaky. Magic, Jazz, Heat. A little too much World Football League for me.

I was hoping for a non-weather name. All weather names create negative images. No one is called the Clear Skies or the Balmy Temperatures. We don't need Gary England for a mascot.

Oklahomans focus way too much on what's wrong with their weather and not nearly enough on what's right. We've got mild winters and gorgeous autumns. Yes, the wind howls like a pack of hyenas and you can fry eggs on summer sidewalks, but you also can play golf about 300 days a year.

And Thunder is not indigenous to Oklahoma. Everyone has thunder, except maybe San Diego. I can personally attest to thunder rolling through Crested Butte in the last couple of days.

Something uniquely Oklahoman would have been cool.

But all that said, Thunder certainly is a marketable name.

A Days of Thunder theme. Garth Brooks' "The Thunder Rolls” as pre-game music, or better yet, as a victory chorus, like "New York, New York” at Yankee Stadium.

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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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