Turns out that one showcase was the ultimate disaster -- a 25-point November loss to the Hornets, which so exasperated the Boomer brass that coach P.J. Carlesimo was fired before leaving the Ford Center.
The next season, 2009-10, the Thunder's breakout year, only one OKC game was nationally televised. Which still trumps the respect shown Toronto, Sacramento and Charlotte in the 2012-13 season. All three are scheduled for zero appearances.
Now the Thunder's national TV appearances are rising like its payroll: 15 in 2010-11, 17 in 2011-12 and the max 25 in 2012-13.
The Thunder has brought the spotlight to OKC. Two-time scoring champ Kevin Durant. Russell Westbrook's meteoric ascension. James Harden's beard. Serge Ibaka's story. Four Olympians, plus even a villain in Kendrick Perkins, if that's your style.
We long ago realized we couldn't take our eyes off these guys, and the NBA schedule reminds us that American basketball fans feel the same way.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.