Oklahoma Thunder, the Team Fracking Built

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in , at 5/25/2016 05:39:00 PM
It is with some sadness that Aubrey McClendon--the man who brought the Oklahoma Thunder to Oklahoma City--formerly the NBA title-winning Seattle SuperSonics--passed away under still-unexplained circumstances in March. At that time, of course, oil prices were still rather depressed, and he was also facing a federal antitrust indictment besides. Still, McClendon was instrumental to bringing the Thunder who appear NBA Finals-bound once more to Oklahoma, and of course funding the buildup of a very strong team. Even know, it remains the team fracking built:
McClendon is credited and sometimes cursed for championing the drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The technology led to a boom in U.S. oil and natural gas production from porous rock formations, known as shale, that had been hard to tap. And fracking made him a billionaire. By 2005, Chesapeake was the second-largest U.S. natural gas producer, after Exxon Mobil.McClendon had a deep impact on Oklahoma City in the years he ran Chesapeake...
He created tens of thousands of jobs and showered tens of millions of Chesapeake’s and his own dollars on the community. He helped bring the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder and an Olympic-class rowing venue to town. He secured the city’s first Whole Foods Market, brought upscale shopping and dining to the Chesapeake neighborhood and contributed to many charities, from local elementary schools to Boy & Girls Clubs. 
In fact, his death came almost immediately after attending the game wherein Stephen Curry sank THAT 3-pointer from nearly half-court:
Good news, though, was scarce for McClendon everywhere he went, even an outing on Saturday night to watch a Thunder game, the basketball team he partially owned and helped bring to Oklahoma City from Seattle. Wearing a blue-shirt, sleeves rolled-up, he took his usual front-row seat on the baseline near the Thunder bench.

What looked to be a brief respite from his business woes turned into a heart-breaker. McClendon could only stand with his hands at his sides as Golden State Warriors’ star Steph Curry sank a last-second three-pointer to hand the Thunder an overtime loss. McClendon left the same way he always did, walking through the private back corridor of Chesapeake Arena.
I suppose McClendon could have been affected by his team's disheartening loss on top of the indictment and the pressure in oil prices which affected his mental state. Still, the name of the Thunder's home venue remains the Chesapeake Energy Arena, and with the current push of oil prices to test the $50/bbl level, it seems oil money never went away in funding the team's success.

Without fracking, there would likely have been no Oklahoma Thunder.

6/2 UPDATE: OK, so the Thunder ultimately didn't advance to the 2016 NBA Finals, but there is no mistaking the transformation wrought by the Thunder on its own city as the fracking boom was underway:
“But it’s not just that,” Durant continues. “I drive through downtown, through midtown, through the Asian district and see so many different businesses, so many different people. It’s a big, diverse city that’s grown with the team.” The impact of sports franchises on urban renewal is often overstated, but in Oklahoma City it’s obvious. “The Thunder has given us a worldwide brand we’ve never had before,” says the mayor, Mick Cornett, citing the area’s strong corporate recruitment and staggering influx of millennials. “The exposure has been immeasurable. You tell somebody in another country you’re from Oklahoma City, and they say, ‘Kevin Durant.’”