Oklahoma City Thunder: Why one of OKC's biggest fans is also a San Antonio Spurs fan

by Jenni Carlson Published: May 18, 2014


photo - Tom Travis watches during an NBA basketball game between the Oklahoma CIty Thunder and the Minnesota Timberwolves at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman
Tom Travis watches during an NBA basketball game between the Oklahoma CIty Thunder and the Minnesota Timberwolves at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman

“Clay really got the bug, so to speak,” said Travis, who was president of IBC and represented the bank on the Spurs board. “He was really excited about it.”

Still, when Travis transferred from San Antonio to Oklahoma City in 2004 to take over as president and chief executive officer of IBC-Oklahoma, the NBA was not even a twinkle in Oklahoma City’s eye. The city had tried to woo the NHL and just missed the cut, and its efforts to entice the NBA had been met with the chilliest of shoulders.

So, Travis brought his Spurs allegiance with him. Decorated his office in black and silver. Talked Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich and Tony Parker with anyone who would listen.

Then, of course, Hurricane Katrina blew the Hornets into town and changed the course of Oklahoma City’s future.

When the Thunder came to town a few years later, Travis wanted to support the franchise because of all the folks who had ties to the Spurs. Bennett. General manager Sam Presti. Head coach P.J. Carlesimo.

But he became a fan of the Thunder for the same reason most folks have — it has won and it has Kevin Durant.

“Everybody loves a winner,” Travis said. “I think Kevin Durant and the team have made it easy.”

Travis has become such a fan that he went to Miami two years ago to cheer for Oklahoma City during the NBA Finals.

Of course, he was in Miami last year to cheer for San Antonio in the NBA Finals, too.

When he talks about the Spurs, he uses pronouns like “we” and “us.”

When he talks about the Thunder, he calls them “my Thunder.”

You might think these passions will make for a difficult few weeks for Travis. The Spurs and the Thunder are about to lock in a best-of-seven series that will end with one going to the NBA Finals and the other cleaning out their lockers.

But Travis, who has four Spurs championship rings but is so passionate about the Thunder that he once got into a verbal tit-for-tat with Dallas sharpshooter Jason Terry, insists these aren’t tough days at all. Quite the opposite.

He sees this as a win-win situation. He thinks of the fact that one of his teams is going to win, not that one of his teams is going to lose.

He isn’t torn at all.

“Look, I’m a native Texan, and if push comes to shove, I don’t know where I’d go, but I love the Spurs and it’s a longtime deal,” he said. “But I love my Thunder. I love my Thunder. I love what Clay’s doing. I love what Sam Presti’s done. I love Durant.”

Travis loves both of his teams so much that he plans to attend every game of the Western Conference Finals, regardless of location. In addition to his Thunder season tickets at The Peake, he also has Spurs season tickets near the court at the AT&T Center, and he’ll be in them Monday night.

Then, whatever team wins the West, he plans to follow it through the NBA Finals. He’s guaranteed to have one of his teams playing for a title.

“I wish one of these teams was in the East and one was in the West,” he said wistfully. “But I tell you, it puts joy in my heart to see the Thunder doing what they’re doing and the Spurs doing what they’re doing.

“I just want to see great basketball.”

Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.


by Jenni Carlson
Columnist
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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