A few weeks ago, the Tulsa World published this article about how more Tulsans are embracing the Oklahoma City Thunder. Overall, the tone of the article is positive. It cites increasing ticket sales and rising TV ratings from the East side of the state. However, if you read the article and read some of the comments, you’ll quickly realize just how ignorant, jealous and petty so many folks are about the Thunder bearing the name “Oklahoma City.”
I don’t want to admit this is true, but having lived in Tulsa for almost seven years now, there is an inferiority complex for too many people when it comes to competition with OKC. These are the same imbeciles who need something to be offended by, something to rant about on sports radio, and who cling to the past like it’s keeping them alive. The ridiculous sentiment of this pathetic crowd is, “They’re not the Oklahoma Thunder, so why should I care? They don’t market themselves to Tulsa or play games up here, so why I am going to support a team that doesn’t acknowledge me?”
Really? Sometimes you people sound like too much like the kid who gets picked last for dodge ball. Did you ever think it’s because maybe you’re not good enough? Instead of whining and complaining just get better.
Let’s face facts here; Oklahoma City had a vision back in the mid-nineties. The MAPS project was executed flawlessly and now OKC has transformed itself into a big league city that is deserving of a professional franchise. Tulsa is a fantastic place to live, and offers plenty of things that OKC doesn’t, but it just isn’t on the same level when it comes to being ready for pro sports. Sure, Tulsa has the BOK Center downtown. It’s a beautiful facility and it’s a huge step in the right direction. But Tulsa also has a city council that squabbles incessantly, excruciatingly slow development along the river, and surface streets that make this town the perfect place to open up your own alignment shop. What takes Oklahoma City ten years seems to take Tulsa 25 years to accomplish. Believe me, Tulsa is changing and improving, but it’s not there yet.
I understand being loyal to your city and defending where you’re from. That should be a source of pride. But sometimes the order gets a little skewed. I am an American first, an Oklahoman second, and a Tulsan third. There is an NBA franchise in my state, 90 minutes down the road, and I can’t get on board? It’s one thing if you’re just not that into the NBA product. I get it. But to sit there with your arms crossed and a frown on your face because the Thunder doesn’t play any games in Tulsa, just makes you look childish. There are plenty of pro sports teams with a state instead of a city in their name, but all of those teams still have a home base. Do the Arizona Cardinals try to play games in Tucson? Do the Colorado Rockies leave Denver every couple of weeks so they can appease the fans in Pueblo? Can’t a guy living in Amarillo still be a fan of the Texas Rangers even though they’ll never play out in the panhandle? Enough already with the sour grapes. Quit the griping and be proud of your state.
When these twits lose that argument, then there’s a faction that wants to keep our state looking backwards instead of moving forward. “All the Thunder does is takes fans away from OU and OSU.” (Read quote again with your best sad, tear-filled voice. Kind of like a toddler who sees his sibling get a cookie.) Sigh. First of all, football is always going to be king in this state. Always. Plus, there is only two months of overlap in the college football season and the NBA season. The Thunder plays its most important games of the year when there is no football, and I don’t think either OU or OSU’s football program is hurting for fan support in the months of October and November. College basketball may be a different story. Attendance at Lloyd Noble and Gallagher-Iba has gone down over the last few seasons, but why blame the Thunder? Fans usually have choices, and most of them are going to support a winner. They’re going to watch a team with potential, a team that’s going somewhere. If the Sooners and Cowboys want more butts in the seats, they need to put a better product on the floor.
So here it is Tulsans, plain and simple for you. Stop living in the past and stop with the comparisons to Oklahoma City. Focus on your own town and what you can do to move Tulsa forward. Take a minute to reflect and realize just how lucky you are to live in a place with friendly, God-fearing people who still believe in being neighborly. Sometimes Oklahoma scenery can leave a little to be desired, but your neck of the woods is beautiful. Up here, you’re never far from the hills and the lakes of green country. Let go of this silly rivalry with Oklahoma City, and enjoy the fact that the Thunder represents our state in such a positive way.
By the way Tulsa, don’t forget you have professional basketball too. The Shock season begins June 4th.