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Oklahomans obsessed with picking NBA team name

by Jenni Carlson Modified: July 16, 2008 at 4:13 pm •  Published: July 16, 2008
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/> What we can't seem to agree on, though, is exactly what that perfect nickname is.

Over the past few months, Toby Rowland has taken hundreds of calls about the team name on his sports talk show on KREF. The first wave came a couple months ago when it looked like Clay Bennett and Co. would leave the Sonics nickname in Seattle.

"That's all we talked about on the radio show for it seemed like forever,” Rowland said.

Some were serious, and some were absurd. Callers suggested wacky nicknames like Weathermen and Vortex, and everyone got a good laugh out of it.

But then, folks in other parts of the country started throwing out equally goofy nicknames and the tenor changed.

"People started curling up — ‘Oh, yeah? You want to fight about it?' ” Rowland said. "It's kind of like the old adage about, ‘I can say whatever I want about my family, but you'd better not.' ”

The mood has changed again in recent weeks.

"Everybody's nervous now,” said Rowland, also the weekend sports anchor on KWTV News9. "People are just afraid of how it might be perceived.

"I bet when Sooners was announced, it seemed pretty silly. I bet when Hoosiers was announced, it seemed pretty silly. But it became part of the lexicon over time.”

Rowland chuckled.

"If you think about it, they're all silly.”

That's what Deane Wymer had started to believe. The accountant from Fairview made a list of nicknames, and even though he had almost two dozen, none suited him.

One after another, he crossed names off the list. A few, such as Okies, were even names he liked.

"We may take pride in being Okies,” Wymer said, "but that's not the image we want to portray to the rest of the world. That name's anything but positive to the rest of the world.”

Wymer had nearly given up his search for the perfect name. Then this week, he was thinking about the state's aeronautical history from the early days of Will Rogers and Wiley Post to the current days of astronauts, and that's when he hit on his nickname suggestion.

Orbits.

"It seemed it was a logical, positive image,” he said. "It has to be something positive.”

That seems to be about the only thing Oklahomans can agree on when it comes to the nickname fever that's sweeping the state.

Editors note: Deane Wymer was incorrectly identified as a certified public accountant

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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