Oklahoma City Thunder

Oklahoma City Thunder  

Thunder Timeline


Seattle Supersonics Team Formation

On December 20, 1966, Los Angeles businessmen Sam Schulman and Eugene V. Klein and a group of minority partners were awarded the NBA franchise for the city of Seattle. Schulman would serve as the active partner and head of team operations. He named the SuperSonics after Boeing's recently awarded contract for the SST project, which was later canceled. The SuperSonics were Seattle's first major league sports franchise. Beginning play in October 1967, the SuperSonics were coached by Al Bianchi and featured All-Star guard Walt Hazzard and NBA All-Rookie Team members Bob Rule and Al Tucker. The expansion team stumbled out of the gates with a 144-116 loss in their first game, and finished the season with a 23-59 record.

NBA Finals Winners

NBA Finals - 1979
The 1979 NBA World Championship Series at the conclusion of the 1978 - 1979 season were won by the Seattle SuperSonics defeating the Washington Bullets 4 games to 1. The series was a rematch of the 1978 NBA Finals which the Washington Bullets had won 4-3. Due to a better regular season record, the Bullets had home court advantage.

Barry Ackerley Purchases Sonics

In October 1983, original team owner Sam Schulman sold the SuperSonics to Barry Ackerley, initiating a period of decline and mediocrity for the franchise. 1984 saw Fred Brown retire after playing 13 productive seasons, all with Seattle. His career reflected much of the SuperSonics' history to that time, having been on the same team roster as Rule and Wilkens during his rookie season, playing a key role on Seattle's first playoff teams, and being the team's important sixth man during the championship series years. In recognition of his many contributions to the team, Brown's number was retired in 1986. Lenny Wilkens left the organization following the 1984 - 1985 season, and when Jack Sikma was traded after the 1985 - 1986 season, the last remaining tie to the SuperSonics' championship team (aside from trainer Frank Furtado) had been severed.

Schultz Cannot Get a New Arena

Schultz is the former owner of the NBA's Seattle SuperSonics. During his tenure as team owner, he was criticized for his naïveté and propensity to run the franchise as a business rather than a sports team. Schultz feuded with player Gary Payton, feeling that Payton disrespected him and the team by not showing up to the first day of training camp in 2002.

On July 18, 2006, Schultz sold the team to Clayton Bennett, chairman of the Professional Basketball Club LLC, an Oklahoma City ownership group, for $350 million, after having failed to convince the city of Seattle to provide public funding to build a new arena in the Greater Seattle area to replace KeyArena. At the time of the team's sale, it was speculated that the new owners would move the team to their city some time after the 2006 - 2007 NBA season. On July 2, 2008, the city of Seattle reached a settlement with the new ownership group and the SuperSonics moved to Oklahoma City and became the Thunder for the 2008 - 2009 NBA season. The sale to the out-of-state owners considerably damaged Schultz's popularity in Seattle. In a local newspaper poll, Schultz was judged "most responsible" for the team leaving the city. Before the city of Seattle settled with the Oklahoma City ownership group, Schultz filed a lawsuit against Bennett in April 2008 to rescind the July 2006 sale based on what Schultz claimed was fraud and intentional misrepresentation. However, Schultz dropped the lawsuit in August 2008. When Bennett purchased the SuperSonics and its sister franchise in the WNBA, the Seattle Storm, for $350 million, he agreed to a stipulation that he would make a "good-faith best effort" for one year to keep both teams in Seattle.

Relocation to Oklahoma City

In 2006, the SuperSonics were sold for $350 million to a group of Oklahoma City investors led by Clay Bennett, a move approved by NBA owners the following October. In 2007, Bennett announced that the franchise would move to Oklahoma City as soon as the lease with Key Arena expired.

In June 2008, a lawsuit between the City of Seattle and Bennett regarding Bennett's attempts to break the final two years of the Sonics' lease at KeyArena went to federal court, and nearly a month later the two sides reached an agreement to settle. The terms awarded the city $45 million to get out of the remaining lease at KeyArena, and could provide an additional $30 million payment to Seattle in 2013 if certain conditions are met. The owners agreed to leave the SuperSonics name, logo and colors in Seattle for a possible future NBA franchise; however, the items would remain the property of the Oklahoma City team along with other "assets," including championship banners and trophies. On September 3, 2008, the team name, logo, and colors for the Oklahoma City franchise were revealed to the public. The name "Thunder" was chosen due to Oklahoma being a frequent victim of powerful storms for its location in the Tornado Alley, and Oklahoma City housing the 45th Infantry Division, the Thunderbirds.

Arrival of Kevin Durant

On May 22, 2007, the SuperSonics were awarded the 2nd pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, equaling the highest draft position the team has ever held. They selected Kevin Durant out of Texas. On June 28, 2007, the SuperSonics traded Ray Allen and the 35th pick of the 2nd round (Glen Davis) in the 2007 NBA Draft to the Boston Celtics for rights to the 5th pick Jeff Green, Wally Szczerbiak, and Delonte West.

Thunder Primary Logo History Thunder Alternate Logo History No Wordmark Logo History


Team Information Team History

Seattle - Oklahoma City

Thunder - When the Seattle SuperSonics relocated to Oklahoma City after the 2007 - 2008 season, fans voted on potential nicknames from an original list of 64 possibilities. Thunder was chosen over Renegades, Twisters, and Barons, and the name was extremely well received. The team set sales records for the first day after the nickname was revealed. Oklahoma City housing the 45th Infantry Division, the Thunderbirds.

Chesapeake Energy Arena
2012 - present
  • Oklahoma City Arena
  • 2010 - 2011
  • Ford Center
  • 2008 - 2010

KeyArena at Seattle Center
1995 - 2008

  • Seattle Center Coliseum
  • 1985 - 1994

1978 - 1985
Seattle Center Coliseum
1967 - 1978

Professional Basketball Club, LLC
2006 - present

Howard Schultz
2001 - 2006
Barry Ackerley
1983 - 2001
Sam Schulman
1967 - 1983

Established: 1967

League History:
National Basketball Association
1967 - present

Team History:
Oklahoma City Thunder
2008 - present

Seattle SuperSonics
1967 - 2008

NBA Championships: 1

Retired Numbers:
1 Gus Williams
10 Nate McMillian
19 Lenny Wilkens
24 Spencer Haywood
32 Fred Brown
43 Jack Sikma
- Bob Blackburn

Mascots: 2009 - present

The Official Site of the Oklahoma City Thunder

*Red is this team's history

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