OKC Thunder fan base ranks in top 10 of Forbes most passionate in sports

OKC Thunder Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)
OKC Thunder Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images) /

The OKC Thunder fans make the cut as Forbes ranks Thunder Nation eighth on their top 10 list for  2020 Most Passionate Sports Fans.

Writer Christina Settimi of Forbes noted the top ten fan bases in sports this week. More specifically she cited the “most passionate sports fans”. The OKC Thunder made the list coming in at number eight on the list.

On one hand, Thunder Nation should be proud they made the list especially with the Golden State Warriors being the only other NBA team to make the cut. On the other hand, the list sure feels like it missed the mark on several fronts.

First of all, should the Warriors be ahead of the Thunder? Working in the Dubs favor is the fact they’ve appeared in five straight NBA Finals. That factor alone helps especially with casual fans who don’t watch all year but tune in for the postseason. The same factor also likely helped the Thunder. Settimi cites the fact OKC has been played in nine of 11 postseasons as a part of their winning position.

But, if we’re honest how many of you got annoyed this season with the number of games the Warriors were on the National schedule? Sure, no one knew Stephen Curry would get hurt early in the season but the powers that be had to know this season was going to be a struggle.

The OKC Thunder on the other hand rarely got the National treatment. This was likely due to the exit of Russell Westbrook and Paul George combined with the expectations by most analysts OKC would be lottery-bound this year.

I’m in Toronto, Canada, and it was a common occurrence in past years for the Thunder games to play here even when they weren’t the main game running on NBA TV or ESPN. Not so this season as my NBA League Pass has been worth the investment since I’ve had to catch over 95 percent of the 64 games on League Pass.

Diving into who ranked in the top 10 the full list features:

  1. Green Bay Packers
  2. New England Patriots
  3. New Orleans Saints
  4. Pittsburgh Steelers
  5. Philadelphia Eagles
  6. Seattle Seahawks
  7. Golden State Warriors
  8. OKC Thunder
  9. Pittsburgh Penguins
  10. Boston Red Sox

As per above six of the ten teams come from the NFL, two from the NBA with one NHL and MLB team.

Settimi notes the criteria used to narrow the 123 professional teams down to ten were television ratings, attendance, merchandise sales and social media reach.

It’s shocking the Los Angeles Lakers or Boston Celtics don’t make the list given how often they are featured nationally on television. Not one week went by this year without the Lakers on, so that’s a bit of a head-scratcher.

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And perhaps it’s location and recency bias but how the Toronto Raptors don’t make the list is baffling. Jurassic Park was rammed throughout the postseason with fans lining up the day prior just to get into that area.

During the Eastern Conference and NBA Finals fans extended blocks beyond Scotiabank Arena. Plus, this fan base travels to every opponent arena in support during the season even games on the West Coast.

That’s because the fans are all across the country given the Raptors are the only Canadian team. A perfect example was Oracle Arena where the Raptors fans refused to leave after Game 3 and 4 chanting and singing the National Anthem.

As for the Thunder, the fan base has always been super supportive and Forbes is correct in citing they are the only professional team in OKC.

Ultimately, I guess it’s a matter of not looking a gift horse in the mouth but I think a more accurate reflection would’ve put the Thunder ahead of the Dubs (at least in 2020) and the Raptors on the list.

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