Oklahoma City Thunder's Winning Impact Felt Across State
TULSA, Oklahoma - The Oklahoma City Thunder, the new Western Conference champions, stormed to victory Wednesday and secured their spot in the NBA Finals.
The team trailed 15 points at halftime but rallied back to defeat the San Antonio Spurs 107-99.
It's the first trip to the finals for the Thunder since moving from Seattle.
The Thunder's big victory is being felt across the state.
Business owners are taking advantage of the opportunity and analysts with the Tulsa Chamber of Commerce said a spot in the NBA Finals helps spread the Oklahoma brand.
Close to 8 million televisions were tuned to Game 6 of the Thunder-Spurs series. That's a lot of eyeballs focused on Oklahoma.
The presses at GreenHouse Clothing have been working overtime the last few weeks.
"Staying very busy and busy is a good thing," Bryan Schooley said.
Schooley started the business with his two brothers while in college at Oklahoma State University seven years ago.
This spring, they started taking advantage of the Thunder's run through the playoffs.
"Any business would be remiss to sit on the sidelines and not do something because it's current, it's on the top of people's minds," Schooley said.
Their "Thndr Struck" shirts are big sellers at places like Must Stash in the Brookside neighborhood, even some stores in Norman are selling Schooley's designs.
He says the Thunder's ride to the championship is pulling the state together.
"This isn't OU. This isn't OSU. This isn't Drillers. This isn't RedHawks. This is Oklahoma," Schooley said. "It had nothing to do with where the city was, it's the team and the state.
The Thunder-Spurs game Wednesday night was the third highest-rated game in the conference finals this year and up 22 percent from the last Western Conference Finals Game 6 in 2010 between the Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns.
"For the state it's an amazing impact," Ray Hoyt of the Tulsa Sports Commission said.
Hoyt said Oklahoma City's leap to the finals is good for the entire state. Long lines formed early Thursday morning, where fans were waiting for a championship T-shirt. That's just one example of the money changing hands.
It doesn't matter that the team is named for one city, because when viewers across the country watch, they're thinking of the state, Hoyt said.
"It also gives us a brand in Oklahoma that gets established with a winning program and gets a lot of people thinking about Oklahoma, that, maybe, otherwise never would," Hoyt said.
The Dallas Tourism Bureau says last year's NBA championship brought that city around $15 million.
But economists say that's a hard number to pin down because fans may spend money on food or shirts at the game instead of other items they would normally buy.