Oklahoma City Thunder
Oklahoma City Thunder

Oklahoma City Thunder

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Oklahoma City Thunder Team History

The Seattle SuperSonics were founded in 1967 as an NBA expansion team and enjoyed success in Seattle, going to the playoffs 22 times and winning an NBA championship. After spending 41 seasons in the state of Washington, the franchise would move to Oklahoma City after the club was sold to a group of investors from Oklahoma City and an ensuing lawsuit over the relocation forced them to change the name of the team. The Thunder are technically the second NBA franchise to call Oklahoma City home after the New Orleans Hornets temporarily relocated there following Hurricane Katrina while the city of New Orleans worked to rebuild following the devastation.

Oklahoma City Thunder Championships

The Seattle Supersonics made the NBA Finals three times as the Western Conference champions and winning one championship in 1979, which to date has been the franchise’s only NBA title. Led by coach Lenny Wilkens and Finals MVP Dennis Johnson, the Supersonics defeated the Washington Bullets in five games to win the championship. After moving to Oklahoma City, the Thunder made their first postseason in 2010 and won their first division title in Oklahoma City the following season, and then their first Western Conference championship the year after that. The Thunder, led by Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, would lose their fourth Finals appearance in franchise history, falling to the Miami Heat in five games.

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Oklahoma City Thunder Famous Players and Hall of Famers

Best known for his 13 years spent with the Seattle Supersonics, Gary “The Glove” Payton was a nine-time NBA All-Star selection and a nine-time All-NBA Team selection. Payton was also named the NBA Defensive Player of the year in 1996, the same year when he led the NBA in steals and was named to nine NBA All-Defensive First Teams. Payton also holds all the Seattle franchise records for points, assists and steals, and later won an NBA championship of his own on the Miami Heat’s 2006 squad.

After the team’s relocation to Oklahoma City, Kevin Durant was instrumental in helping to lead the club’s quick turnaround into a championship contender, leading the Thunder to an NBA Finals in 2012. In his career, Durant has been named an NBA All-Star 10 times, was named the NBA Most Valuable Player in 2014 and has won the NBA scoring title four times so far. While many Thunder fans have never forgiven Durant for leaving Oklahoma City to join the star-studded Golden State Warriors, Durant still holds a place in many of the Thunder’s record books, including second-most points scored, second-most rebounds, second-most assists, second-most steals and second-most blocks. Durant also leads the Thunder in three-pointers made with 1,084 three-balls.

On top of Durant in most of those records is Russell Westbrook, the electrifying point guard who was named the NBA Most Valuable Player in 2017. After Durant’s departure, Westbrook took over the Thunder, setting a record for the most triple-doubles in the season with 42 in 2017 and averaging a triple-double for three straight seasons, joining Oscar Robertson as the only players to ever average a triple-double for a season. Westbrook left the Thunder for Houston in 2019 but leaves as the all-time leader in the Oklahoma City record books in points scored, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks and minutes played.

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