Commentary

Ultimate Standings 2009: No. 57

Oklahoma City Thunder

Updated: July 1, 2009, 11:53 AM ET
By Charles Curtis | ESPN The Magazine

Last Year's Rank: 116
Title Track: 86
Ownership: 65
Coaching: 48
Players: 24
Fan Relations: 38
Affordability: 8
Stadium Experience: 86
Bang for the Buck: 103

Looks like the move from the Emerald City was a fan-friendly one. Clay Bennett may have been the worst owner in last year's Standings, but Oklahoma City fans have given their new franchise a 59-spot overall bump and an increase in nearly every category. The fans are excited by a future that includes young talent (Kevin Durant, Jeff Green, Russell Westbrook) and community initiatives such as the Rolling Thunder Book Bus and fitness clinics run by the players themselves. And with tickets, soda, beer and parking going for less than the league average (though the price of a hat is tied for most expensive, at $22), fans are more than okay with OKC, declaring the Thunder the eighth-most affordable franchise in sports and the cheapest of any NBA team. The only negative is their home, the Ford Center, which lacks luxury amenities, well-lit concourses and leg room. But even that negative has a positive upside: The Thunder will sink $100 million into the facility over the next two years, adding restaurants, bars, premium seating and a new scoreboard. As Oklahoma City proves, there really is no place like (a new) home.