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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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.

The latest example?

The NBA’s addition of a gold tab on the back of team’s jerseys representing championships. The news broke this week after a leaked PDF of a 2014-15 Adidas merchandiser catalog surfaced online.

The catalog, along with other leaked photos, shows a small gold tag on the back collar of jerseys. The tab features a depiction of the Larry O’Brien Trophy, along with a notation of how many times the franchise has won the NBA Finals.

Catalog photos show Thunder jerseys appearing without the tab, despite the fact the Sonics won a title in 1979.

However, a Thunder spokesman has not confirmed whether the Thunder will or won’t wear the tab. The Thunder does have rights to Seattle’s history and records, though the organization doesn’t typically take advantage of it as part of branding a new identity.

The Atlanta Hawks franchise won a title in 1957-58 as the St Louis Hawks, and the Sacramento Kings won in 1950-51 as the Rochester Royals. Both team’s jerseys do feature the tab in catalog photos.

In the case of the Thunder, a small story has sparked a sizable debate, even if it is one-sided. In a NewsOK.com poll, 4,120 people (90.33 percent) voted “no” to Oklahoma City recognizing the title on their jerseys. 441 people (9.67 percent) voted “yes.”

The story drew 84 comments as of 3 p.m. Friday.

“Why would you celebrate a team that won a championship in another city?” AJ Schofield said. “I don’t believe you have the championship banner hanging in Chesapeake Energy Arena, so why put the tab on the jersey?”

“Why would we want to?” Philip Burchett said. “It was such an ugly situation. The Thunder has completely distanced themselves from anything even remotely associated with the Sonics.”

OKC-Seattle debate aside, the small change is bringing up plenty of other storylines.

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