No one seems exactly sure how ESPN The Magazine's Ultimate Standings are derived, but it sure is nice to be ranked No. 1.
The Mag placed the Thunder atop the 2012 Ultimate Standings as the best among 122 professional sports franchises in North America.
Much appreciated and all that, but, um, what exactly did the Thunder do to warrant such praise?
No one within the OKC organization seemed quite sure what to say publicly when news broke Thursday afternoon. Flattered and humbled as staff members were, no one could pinpoint precisely how it all fell into place.
Ownership chairman Clay Bennett shared the following statement Sunday: “The Thunder is humbled and honored to be recognized by our fans in this way. It is a testament to our players and the connection they have established with the community, on and off the court. It is also a reflection of everyone within the Thunder organization and the commitment they have made to provide a first-class fan experience. We never take that support for granted and offer a tremendous thank you to our loyal fans.”
It's safe to assume it'll be business as usual when employees arrive Monday morning. Thunder headquarters isn't exactly celebration station. Anyone caught turning cartwheels down the hallway will summarily be chastised.
The Mag claims the Ultimate Standings were created “to determine which teams in the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL offer the greatest rewards for all the emotion, money and time that fans invest in them.”
How these calculations are measured is subjective, which means interpretations vary. The Mag essentially took a big vat of goo and attempted to mold it, shape it, refine it and define it.
Perhaps the best way to explain how OKC snared the No. 1 spot is this: Things are going pretty good with the Thunder right now; fans are ecstatic local owners brought an NBA franchise to town; the team is young, talented and plays hard; the coach seems to speak the players' language; the general manager appears to have made all the right moves; season tickets and parking don't cost an arm and a leg; the arena is paid for and getting better.
Voila! You're the ultimate pro franchise in North America.
Good as this feels, these standings can turn quickly — in both directions:
* In 2010, the Orlando Magic ranked No. 2. This year, it ranks No. 77.
* In 2010, the Colorado Rockies ranked No. 13. This year, they rank No. 85.
* In 2008, the New Orleans Hornets ranked No. 3. This year, they rank No. 54.
* In 2004, the Colorado Avalanche ranked No. 12. This year, it ranks No. 78.
* In 2003, the Sacramento Kings were No. 4. This year, they rank No. 121.
* In 2003, the Miami Dolphins were No. 6. This year, they rank No. 110.
In the opposite direction:
* The Los Angeles Clippers have climbed from 122nd (last) in 2010 to No. 53 in 2012.
* The Chicago Bulls were No. 104 in the first Ultimate Standings and are No. 24 in the latest.
* The Houston Texans were No. 119 in the first year and are No. 18 this year.
These were The Mag's 10th annual Ultimate Standings. Where the Thunder might rank five years, 10 years, 20 years from now, no one knows, but so far so good.
OKC should just keep doing what it's doing, whatever that is.
HOW THE ’ULTIMATE STANDINGS’ ARE DETERMINED
Every year, ESPN The Magazine compiles the results of fan surveys and financial analysis to determine which teams in the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL offer the greatest rewards for all the emotion, money and time that fans invest in them. The rankings are determined by a multitiered analysis that examines a team’s efficiency in spending fan money as compared to its onfield performance. It also factors in feedback in 21 categories from more than 70,000 fans nationwide, both online at ESPN.com and in polling conducted by both independent third parties.
Franchises are ranked in the following categories:
• Bang for the buck (BNG): Wins during the past three years (regular season, plus postseason) per revenues directly from fans, adjusted for league schedules.
• Fan relations (FRL): Openness and consideration toward fans by players, coaches and management.
• Ownership (OWN): Honesty and loyalty to core players and local community.
• Affordability (AFF): Prices of tickets, parking and concessions.
• Stadium experience (STX): Quality of arena and game-day promotions as well as friendliness of environment.
• Players (PLA): Effort on the field and likability off it.
• Coaching (CCH): Strength of on-field leadership.
• Title track (TTR): Championships already won or expected within the lifetime of current fans.
In all, 122 teams from the NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB were ranked in order, based on a weighted average of scores in eight different categories ranging from the quantitative to the emotionally subjective: bang for the buck (21.6 percent), fan relations (20.9 percent), players (19.0 percent), affordability (16.7 percent), stadium experience (8.5 percent), ownership (8.1 percent), title track (3.2 percent) and coaching (2.0 percent).
Financial analysis was from the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center at the University of Oregon (Matthew Maxson with Ameer Abdelaaty, Mike DeMartini, Jenny Swaim, Gary Wang, Jay Young and Bill Zachry). Fan surveys were from Maddock Douglas and NetReflector.
Source: ESPN The Magazine