When it was recently announced that the Tulsa 66ers were relocating to Oklahoma City, it wasn't a complete surprise to those within the 66ers' inner circle. With such a close relationship between the 66ers and their affiliation with the Oklahoma City Thunder, being in Oklahoma City makes perfect sense as far as player movement between the clubs, keeping an even closer watch over player development and training, and building an even stronger fan base for the D-League franchise.
With the 66ers leaving the SpiritBank Event Center to head down the Turner Turnpike, it marks the third location in Tulsa that the 66ers called home (including the Expo Square Pavilion and the Tulsa Convention Center). Each had its problems (with the Pavilion being a very dated facility, the Convention Center offering a bigger facility with not much game-day environment and few free parking spaces, and SpiritBank Event Center offering even fewer free parking spaces), but there was a core group of Tulsa 66ers fans who supported the team every game, no matter the record or opponent.
66ers fans and supporters can say that they were there to witness the growth of Reggie Jackson into a player who shined for the Thunder in last year's postseason and the birth of what will be a solid NBA coaching career for Nate Tibbetts, who paced the 66ers to a D-League finals berth and now helps the Portland Trail Blazers.
It was also a chance for the Thunder faithful in Tulsa to get closer to their team down the turnpike. Whether it was an appearance by Rumble or watching a Williams or Perry Jones grow into a solid NBA presence, 66ers fans could be up close and personal with their team. That was a good thing, and that will be missed.
It was a good run but make no mistake, this is not a slap in the face of Tulsa sports. The Los Angeles D-Fenders and Lakers have proven having the D-League team that close can work for the good of both. The 66ers and Thunder will prove that as well.