Bill Russell will introduce Oklahoma City Thunder owner Clay Bennett tonight when he is inducted into the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame.
Bennett grew up in Oklahoma City and always dreamed of bringing a professional franchise to his hometown. He has done that with the Thunder and the city will never be the same.
As a teenager, Bennett dreamed of owning the Dallas Cowboys. In the ’80s, Bennett even looked into that very prospect one of the two times the Cowboys were for sale.
But the Cowboys never were leaving Dallas. What Bennett has wanted most was a franchise for his hometown.
“It’s always been a big deal to Clay, since he became a young adult, that Oklahoma City got some kind of major league franchise,” Ike Bennett said. “Always felt like that’s what Oklahoma City needed to get put on the map.”
Consider Oklahoma City on the map. From Bricktown to the Devon Tower, from the Oklahoma River to Film Row, Oklahoma City is a changed place. And the Thunder is the validation of that change.
Tramel also writes about how Oklahoma has never had sports stars to look up to that made their glory in the state. That is of course changing now with the Thunder and the likes of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
Thunder fans should thank Bennett every day. Moving the franchise from Seattle was not easy. If Bennett only cared about making money, he would have probably kept the team there. But he had a dream and that dream created the Thunder.