66ers benefit from solid working relationship with Thunder
BY KEVIN HENRY World Correspondent
Saturday, May 19, 2012
5/19/12 at 5:36 AM
BIXBY - It was still 90 minutes before the Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Lakers tipped off in Game 3 of the NBA's Western Conference semifinals Friday night, but there was already plenty of Thunder blue T-shirts filling the upper room at Duke's Southern Kitchen.
Keeping with the theme of affiliation between the Tulsa 66ers and the Thunder, the 66ers held a Thunder watch party while also celebrating the 66ers move to the SpiritBank Event Center for the 2012-2013 NBA Development League season.
"Having the 66ers is an integral part of our team's development," said Kelly McKeown, director of marketing and brand management for the Oklahoma City Thunder. "It's important for us to have that pipeline and further establish our ties to Tulsa."
The 66ers played the 2008-09 season at the Bixby arena before moving to downtown Tulsa for the next three seasons. Jim Brylewski, president of the 66ers, is excited about the team's return to the 4,500-seat SpiritBank Event Center.
"The fan support we had when we played here was tremendous," Brylewski said. "If you look around the D-League at venues like Portland (Maine) and Austin (Texas), you are seeing smaller arenas. It provides for an intimate crowd experience and great home-court advantage, and that's what we're counting on next season."
Bixby Mayor Ray Bowen believes the 66ers' move will be a huge benefit to his community.
"It's really fantastic news for Bixby and we're honored that the 66ers are coming back here," Bowen said. "We know there will be more than 20 home dates and that's great for the businesses in the area."
As big as the buzz was on Friday night for the 66ers' return to Bixby, there was equal excitement about the continued growth in the synergy between the 66ers and Thunder and Oklahoma City's run in the NBA playoffs.
"It's phenomenal that we're here tonight talking about Thunder Night next year with the 66ers and getting ready to watch the Thunder win another game against the Lakers," Bowen said, smiling.
"We really see the Thunder as a state team," McKeown added. "When you're a small-market team like Oklahoma City, it's important to have all of your fans all in, and we're seeing that. We see more and more support coming from fans in Tulsa and the Thunder TV ratings keep climbing, in Tulsa and around the state."
Brylewski said Friday night's watch party was just another way to show the relationship between the Thunder and its affiliate team in Tulsa.
"Our partnership with the Thunder grows every year," he said. "Our future plans are to keep growing and have the 66ers be as solid of a pillar in Tulsa as the Thunder are in Oklahoma City."
Original Print Headline: Solid working relationship