“My educated guess is that the team spends little time focusing on ‘sports talk radio' chatter, as we have not once received a complaint regarding our on-air commentary,” Larry Bastida, market manager for Cumulus Media, which owns the Sports Animal, said in an email. “The station's relationship with the team has been, and continues to be, extremely healthy.”
That relationship also has produced strong ratings for the Sports Animal — on talk shows, pregame and postgame shows and game broadcasts.
“There is a direct correlation with the ratings and the state's unprecedented passion for the team,” Bastida said. “We look forward to many years of continued partnership with the Thunder.”
Dan Mahoney, the Thunder's vice president of communications/community relations, agreed the team's relationship with the Sports Animal is strong, but he also defended his broadcasters.
“The Sports Animal has been a great partner,” Mahoney said. “Brian Davis is a first-rate, experienced professional. Grant Long played 15 years in the NBA. They are experts in the game. Matt Pinto has done an excellent job leading the broadcast crew on the radio side. We are very proud of the job they do in delivering the game to our fans.”
Davis, who preferred not to respond directly to Traber's comments, complimented the Thunder telecasts on Fox Sports Oklahoma.
“Our entire crew works hard to put on what we think is one of the best shows in the NBA,” he said. “We're very proud of what we do, that's bring the excitement of Thunder basketball to our fans.”
Local television ratings — which likely will finish as the highest in the NBA by a large margin — indicate that most fans are happy with the game telecasts. Given a choice between watching the FSOK game telecast or the national feed of the same game on TNT or ESPN, viewers have picked FSOK by a big margin. In five simulcasts with ESPN, FSOK has averaged a 7.2 rating (percent of TV households) to 5.2 for the national network. In two simulcasts with TNT, FSOK owns a 8.1 to 3.7 advantage.
That choice affects the type of commentary they will receive. While incidents such as Westbrook's tantrum and Kevin Durant's technicals get much attention on the national networks, they are noticeably downplayed on FSOK.