Brian and Michael Byrnes alternated their turns at the microphone on the floor of Chesapeake Energy Arena on Wednesday afternoon, speaking to a floor full of interns as part of the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce's Greater Grads Intern OKC program.
Brian, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing for the Oklahoma City Thunder, and his younger brother Michael, President and General Manager of the Oklahoma City RedHawks, had never spoke together in a presentation before. The two said they like to keep their work separate as both do everything they can to build their respective teams up in the city.
Following the conference, The Oklahoman sat down with the Byrnes brothers to talk about Oklahoma City, their relationship and what it means to be working so close together.
How does it feel to be in this position speaking together?
Brian: It was a neat opportunity for us to share a stage and tell our stories together and I'm sure it'll be a special memory for both of us as we think back on doing these things together in the same city at this moment in time.
Michael: We both work in opportunities that are so important to the quality of life of Oklahomans, so this seemed like a really fitting chance to share our message.
How do you guys feel working together in Oklahoma City?
Brian: I can distinctively remember the day Michael called me and said ‘Hey, this thing came across my desk.' I couldn't have been more thrilled to be an advocate of Oklahoma City at the time and I couldn't have been more proud as a brother to think about my brother having the same opportunity as I had just experienced.
Michael: It's particularly fun for me because we both are doing it outside of where we grew up. When you tell that story, people would expect it in Fort Worth where we grew up. But with 30 NBA teams and 160 affiliated minor league baseball teams, to end up in the same city is pretty phenomenal.
Were you excited or apprehensive when you heard about the opportunity to work in Oklahoma City?
Michael: I had a background in visiting. I was certainly familiar with Oklahoma City, not as intimate with the details of the spirit of the community of how well the business community works together. But I knew enough that I was excited to want to come here. The organization, the RedHawks and the ballpark we work in is a jewel of the city and it's important to the quality of life, and then to take a step in my career in a location that was going to put me close to family and close to Brian. How would you turn down an opportunity like that?
How do you feel about Oklahoma City and the sports environment?
Brian: I can tell you that there was some skepticism when we were launching our business here as to whether or not Oklahoma City could sustain interest in professional sports. When you now answer that question in 2013 and you think about a thriving NBA franchise, a thriving baseball franchise, a young but developing hockey franchise and you think about the horse track, I think that question has been answered. I think Oklahoma City has a terrific appetite for supporting diversity in the sports environment.