'Thunder' roars into OKC

Wednesday, September 3rd 2008, 2:08 pm
By: News 9


OKLAHOMA CITY - The NBA announced Wednesday that the new Oklahoma City team name is Thunder.

"Well, it's hard to keep a secret," Clay Bennett, the Thunder Co-owner said.

The announcement took place during a 5 p.m. press conference.

Damien Wilkins was at the press conference and the forward guard said he's excited about the team name.

"Hopefully the fans will come out and make a lot of noise and it will sound like thunder," Wilkins said.

The OKC Thunder player said the team is preparing for the upcoming season and for the future.

"This team is going to be full of energy," Wilkins said.

Employees worked overnight to get all the merchandise on the shelves at the team's store in downtown Oklahoma City. The new merchandise was blocked from public view until the 5 p.m. announcement.

Matt Pinto, the radio play-by-play voice for the team, said he expects the team to play hard and leave everything on the court.

Head coach P.J. Carlesimo spoke at a luncheon for the Greater OKC Chamber Wednesday afternoon. He said the staff, coaches and players are delighted to be in Oklahoma City and be a part of the community.

"This team is our team," Carlesimo said.

The head coach said putting a team on the court that represents the community is almost as important as winning.

Meanwhile, upgrades to the Ford Center have been initiated. The new home of the Thunder will receive new arena lighting fixtures and improved restrooms facilities.

Libra Electric Company, heading the lighting project, said the installation of 26 new fixtures is expected to be completed by October.

The demolition to the southeast section of the Ford Center is also in progress. The area is said to be the location for an Irish-themed pub.

"Upgrades planned for Phase A of the renovation will not interfere with events currently scheduled at the Ford Center," said Gary Desjardins, general manager of the Ford Center. "Our guests will continue to experience top-notch entertainment and first-class service at all of our events."