When the franchise first arrived in Oklahoma City, way back in the summer of 2008, it had no identity. It was no longer the Seattle SuperSonics but not yet the Thunder. In fact, even as players wore a generic black jersey for summer league basketball that year, speculation about potential team names was rampant. Reports leaked that the organization had trademarked six monikers: Barons, Bison, Energy, Marshals, Thunder and Wind. Fans created mock jerseys and logos, argued about the merits of each and filled sports radio air time with thoughts on color combinations. It was, needless to say, a period of great excitement and anticipation.
So when the official name and logo were unveiled at a press conference in September 2008, opinions were unsurprisingly mixed. "The logo is laughable," one fan wrote to me. "I see a lot of opportunity to create an exciting atmosphere themed around "Thunder'," another said.
Immediately, merchandise went on sale at the team store, and a bit later the jerseys were unveiled, the cornerstone being the primary home white with "Thunder" on the front. The color scheme features a light blue that represents the Oklahoma state flag, according to team officials, as well as trim of yellow, navy and a sunset color referred to by Clay Bennett as "not too red and not too orange." In other words, it was meant not to offend either Oklahoma or Oklahoma State fans.
"The uniforms, they're classic, they're timeless and they essentially pay tribute to the amazing heritage of the National Basketball Association," Thunder television announcer Brian Davis said after the unveiling.
The white home uniform remained unchained for many years. For the 2017-18 season, the team introduced a new version made by Nike with only slight changes that include the addition of an OKC belt emblem and the Nike logo on the shoulder. It is worn for a majority of Thunder games at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Interestingly, prior to that late September unveiling ceremony, many fans already knew how the white uniforms would look. That's because footage from the video game NBA 2k9 leaked it in advance. The road blues, however, were more of a surprise, and they were received fairly positively by fans. In particular, many liked them due to the prominently featured "Oklahoma City" across the front. For residents anxious to celebrate and validate newfound status as a big-league city, it represented something very significant.
The light blue uniforms are traced in yellow and the sunset color with navy blue down the side and the OKC logo on both legs of the shorts.
While OU and OSU fans debated that red-orange, it was something different to the team's star player. "I love the jerseys," Kevin Durant said at the unveiling. "They got the touch of burnt orange; we're in Big 12 country, I'm always going to be a Longhorn in Oklahoma."
And so it was for the gameday dress of the Oklahoma City Thunder for several seasons. Then in September of 2012, a few months after the NBA Finals loss to the Miami Heat, the organization announced it would wear its first alternate uniform.
Formally unveiled in November and debuting against the Detroit Pistons on November 9, 2012, the jersey is navy blue and features "Thunder" in vertical text within white trim. The shorts have the team logo on one leg and a vertical "OKC" on the other, and on the back of the shorts is "Oklahoma City" near the waistband.
In a press release, the Thunder organization said of the new look, "Overall, the minimalist design and clean lines are timeless and reflect the personality of our industrious, hard-working, proud and committed community."
The navy blue alternate uniforms were worn ten times during the 2012-2013 regular season, and though fan response was mixed, some calling them boring or too different from the team's regular look, buyers gobbled them up at the team store. In fact, according to an article in the Oklahoman, 1,000 had been sold by halftime that first night against the Pistons.
In 2016, the organization announced, without reason, that the navy alternates were being retired.
Often, alternate uniforms are announced prior to the regular season, but that wasn't the case in 2015 when Oklahoma City received its fourth uniform. In early March, the Thunder just over .500 and desperately fighting for a playoff spot after a season-ending injury to Kevin Durant, the organization joined several other franchises by adding a uniform with a sleeved jersey. The white sleeved uniform made its debut March 8, 2015 against the Toronto Raptors.
It features the logo prominently in the middle of the chest. In a press release at the time, a team official characterized the goal as to "showcase the three letters that resonate in our arena and have come to represent our team and our community: OKC." Unlike the previous three designs, the sleeved jersey has the player's name beneath the number on the back rather than above. The collar is the team's light blue, and the shorts have what the team calls "bolts" in blue and sunset.
There is a vocal segment of fans that vehemently dislikes the sleeved jersey. After the release of the Thunder's version, a USA Today writer called it an "ugly" trend, and local media expressed similar sentiments. Interestingly, though, according to reports, the players quite like the sleeved jerseys and, whenever presented the opportunity, have taken to wearing them at the Chesapeake Energy Arena over the original home white.
Alright, it's time to officially put to bed the debate. Despite the organization's insistence on using the word "sunset," it's orange, people. When it was but an accent on the previous uniforms, one might have been able to imagine a reddish tint, but when the entire uniform flashes the color, it's quite obviously orange.
Announced prior to the 2015-2016 season and first worn in a November 1, 2015 game against the Denver Nuggets, the sunset jersey features "OKC" most prominently of all the jerseys, with large navy block lettering across the front. Like the white sleeved jersey, the player's names are below the number on the back, and the shorts have the logo on each side in a similar way as the original road blues.
The sunset alternate uniform was worn 18 times in 2015-2016 but likely hasn't been purchased by too many Oklahoma Sooners fans. While some certainly separated college rooting interests from the hometown NBA team, many took to social media to decry the color, saying the organization was alienating a good portion of the fan base. Team officials argued that point, with Brian Byrnes, senior vice president of sales and marketing, asserting "We’ve been very careful to stay in the middle." Sunset label or not, just about everyone simply calls it orange.
The sunset jersey was retired prior to the 2017-2018 season.
Prior to the 2017-2018 season, the NBA changed its uniform partnership from Adidas to Nike. In conjunction, each team received a new "Statement Edition" uniform. For OKC, it essentially replaces the sunset alternate.
Like the sunset alternate, this alternate features "OKC" prominently across the front of the jersey. The orange color is the accent now upon a navy blue set with "tone on tone" stripes and blue lines meant to evoke soundwaves of Thunder, according to the organization. Thunder appears on the belt buckle area, and the player's last name is below the number on the back.
Overall, the reaction was largely positive to all of the NBA's Statement Edition uniforms. New acquisition Paul George was one of the first to appear in the new digs, debuting OKC's version at an unveiling in Los Angeles in mid-September 2017. According to the team, OKC is set to wear the alternates at least seven times during the 2017-2018 season, the first being Nov. 24 against Detroit.
Christmas Day has been the NBA's showcase day for quite some time, and teams playing on the holiday frequently wore alternate uniforms or even special shoes. But in 2012, the league began a new tradition. In conjunction with Adidas, each year would feature a new uniform to be worn only on Christmas Day. The designs have ranged from interesting at best to really cool, but most importantly for league executives, the promotion makes a lot of money as fans scramble to purchase the unique looks.
For the Oklahoma City Thunder, a team always in the thick of the playoff race, it means a new uniform each year since 2012, as OKC always plays on Christmas Day. The bad news, of course, is that it's tough to find Christmas alternates from previous seasons. While you can buy this year's at the Thunder Shop team store, getting hold of the older ones would probably send you to eBay and the like.
Here's a breakdown of each special Christmas Day uniform for the Oklahoma City Thunder:
- 2012 - The Thunder's very first Christmas uniform, called "Big Color" by the league, features a more vibrant, richer blue than the team's traditional light blue. Across the chest is "Thunder" in the familiar font, as well as the number, both outlined in orange. The shorts have the team logo on the sides.
- 2013 - Christmas uniform number is an even greater deviation from the norm for Oklahoma City. The 2013 jerseys are light blue and sleeved with a large black and white logo on the front. They also have numbers on the sleeves The shorts feature a navy blue stripe on the sides and the team name along the back waistband.
- 2014 - Overall, the 2014 version is pretty much same as the traditional road blue uniforms, with two significant exceptions. First, the front has the OKC logo rather than "Oklahoma City," and rather than last names, the NBA thought it would fun to put first names on the back.
- 2015 - This Thunder Christmas uniform saw action as OKC welcomed the Chicago Bulls to the Peake. Navy blue with cream trim and "Thunder" in cursive lettering, the bold look has been well-received by fans. The back has an NBA Christmas decal, and players also wore socks designed to look like Christmas sweaters. Buy and/or customize a Christmas 2015 Thunder jersey.