The N.Y. TIMES MAGAZINE's Sam Anderson in a cover story feature wrote, “One of the miracles of the modern Thunder … is how quickly they’ve made people forget the stain of their origin.” The re-branding of the franchise after its move from Seattle to Oklahoma City has been “quick and efficient: the team is now widely perceived as principled, well run and -- above all -- thoroughly Oklahoman." ESPN recently named it the No. 1 sports franchise in America, and "much of the credit for this turnaround" goes to GM Sam Presti. He overhauled "not only the roster of the team but also the culture of the organization.” Anderson: “This involved rethinking everything, no matter how small, from meeting times to media policy to the decorations on the practice-facility walls. Everyone soon became familiar with the Presti buzzwords: process, system, patience, sustainability.” Presti made “a habit of promoting people within the organization so that, from top to bottom, the Thunder became very young and tightly knit.” He “devoted extra resources to the development of the young Thunder players and, on the marketing side, refused to call attention to any single player apart from his teammates.” He also “stressed community outreach to an unusual degree" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/11).
RAZING ARIZONA? In Phoenix, Sonu Munshi noted there will be a political shift in Glendale when “four new elected leaders are seated on the City Council.” The new council members, part of a new majority, are “expected to take a more skeptical stance on a Phoenix Coyotes deal.” Glendale Mayor-elect Jerry Weiers “used his victory speech to send a message to sports teams, namely the Coyotes.” Weiers said, “Glendale is not your cash register." However, Munshi noted, "Two months remain before Weiers and the others are sworn into office." The current majority "could still secure a deal to keep the hockey franchise at the city-owned arena this month” (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 11/10).
START SPREADING THE NEWS: The WALL STREET JOURNAL’s Daniel Barbarisi wrote of the Yankees’ plans to reduce payroll to less than $189M by '14, “That is the new normal for the Yankees, who are suddenly learning to live like everyone else -- with limits." After years of payrolls in the $210M range, Yankees Managing General Partner & co-Chair Hal Steinbrenner "has mandated that the team cut payroll … to take advantage of tens of millions of savings in baseball's new labor deal.” The Yankees “still spend, but they're no longer the team that goes after the biggest and best.” Still, "depending on how the offseason shakes out, the Yankees might not have the highest payroll in baseball in 2013, the first time since 1998” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 11/10).