Ten Years Ago: Hurricane Katrina gave birth to OKC Thunder

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OKLAHOMA CITY -- It has been ten years since Hurricane Katrina made landfall in New Orleans.

The most deadly storm in U.S. history also gave birth to a surprising sports success story.

Back in 2005, Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett had been visiting with the NBA about the possibility of getting a major league basketball team.

The talks went on for a few months before Hurricane Katrina struck, "But frankly, I wasn't having a whole lot of luck," Cornett remembers. "They were looking at Kansas City and Las Vegas at that point, and we would be in a list of cities that might be considered, but we weren't near the top."

Then, Katrina.

When Katrina devastated the gulf coast, the NBA desperately needed a new home for the New Orleans Hornets.

As it turned out, Oklahoma City's NBA-size arena, The Ford Center, had plenty of open dates and was just 700 miles from New Orleans.

The NBA allowed OKC to take the team for a year.

"The Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, our business community and ultimately the fans knocked it out of the park, and we moved to the top of the relocation list in just a few weeks." Cornett said.

When the NBA was considering a move for the Seattle Sonics franchise, Oklahoma City was their top choice.

Oklahoma Thunder was born.

The marriage has been a perfect fit.

"The manner in which they play. The manner in which they conduct themselves off the court makes them an easy team to support." Cornett said.

But this success story is not one any other city could ever emulate.

"It's the result of an incredible act of God off the gulf coast, and a series of events which transpired after that and led OKC to becoming a major league franchise. It's still something that makes your head spin," Cornett said.

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