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Oklahoma City Thunder: Small uniform change sparks debate among fans

Six years after the Seattle SuperSonics became the Oklahoma City Thunder, hard feelings between the two fan bases aren't the only issue that lives on. So do decisions regarding exactly how far the Thunder organization should distance itself from Seattle history.
By Cody Stavenhagen, Staff Writer, cstavenhagen@opubco.com Published: July 18, 2014
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First, what is the point of the jersey change?

“It’s obviously intended to boost retail sales,” said Paul Lukas, who writes the “Uni Watch” column for ESPN.com. “If you look at this tone-on-tone representation of the O’Brien Trophy and the numerical designation that shows if you’ve won the championship four times or one time or whatever it may be, you can’t see that (on) TV unless there’s a really close up of somebody’s back.

“The only way you can see that is if you’re in person holding the jersey. It’s another way to offer a bell and whistle to fans who buy jerseys, and if you already own a jersey, well, now it’s not up to date anymore.”

The addition also comes with interesting timing. In this year’s FIFA World Cup, teams had stars on their jerseys representing World Cup titles. For instance, five-time champ Brazil had five stars on its jerseys.

“I don’t think the NBA was responding to that, because this kind of thing was in the works I’m sure long before the World Cup started,” Lukas said. “I think it’s just a coincidence of the timing.”

Photos also show the NBA logo moved to the back of jerseys, just below the collar. Previously, the NBA logo was on the upper left on the front of jerseys. Lukas said it might be the NBA’s way of clearing space for the eventual possibility of the NBA using corporate sponsor patches on jerseys.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in March he expects that to happen within the next five years.

But despite becoming a popular discussion point this week, Lukas said the addition of championship tabs is a small issue in the big picture.

“It’s interesting and we’re talking about it now, and we should be talking about it now,” Lukas said. “But it’s not going to going to go down as a major development in uniform history or NBA history.”

But with pride and history in the balance for fans in Oklahoma City and Seattle, the Thunder’s decision regarding the championship tab does matter, and it is a big deal.