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Blog #7: The Ghosts of Tulsa (Part 2)

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Back in the late 1970s, Team Hawaii of the North American Soccer League moved to Oklahoma and became the Tulsa Roughnecks, they had a six year run before the NASL folded; they won the League Championship in 1983 to cap the only top-tier professional team’s run in the state. Until…

The Ford Center was built in Downtown Oklahoma City in 2002 using a new city initiative called the Metropolitan Area Projects, or MAPS, without an anchor tenant. Three years later. Hurricane Katrina forced the New Orleans Hornets to find another temporary home, and due to OKC Businessman Clayton Bennett’s existing relationship NBA Commissioner David Stern, Stern approved the temporary move to Ford Center, where the Hornets had sellout crowds for the bulk of the two seasons before returning to Louisiana. That uber-successful attendance in in The City paved the way for the first Major Sport Franchise to set up shop in the 46th State, and the Oklahoma City Thunder has been a top performing NBA franchise from 2008 until this very day. Its unprecedented success on and off the court has led to international renown as well as untold millions of dollars of income for the city. Advantage…?

I state all that I list above to say this: I am positive that there is a clear reason for the renaissance of Oklahoma City contrasted with the tepid growth of Tulsa, and it was the way each city dealt with an inconceivable tragedy. This is only a working theory, but I am a big believer in reaping what you sow. The actual act multiplied by the wanton cover up perpetrated by the people of power over the citizens of Greenwood led to a city that has ran in place for the last half century, Tulsa is still way to segregated for a mid-sized American city, for a large number of its Black citizens populate the North Side around Greenwood, and the percentage of other races in the area are still way too small. Economic blight is the rule rather than the exception in the area; the city leaders seem to ignore making any capital investments of any significant scale. But instead of using any creative methods, those same leaders dismiss any small steps as beneath them. The owners of the Thunder helped move the WNBA’s Detroit Shock to Tulsa in 2010, and they lasted five seasons there before moving on to Dallas. They were last in attendance due to indifference while some of their jaded citizens had the nerve to complain that OKC didn’t “share” the Thunder with them or at least should have named the team by the state as Indiana, Minnesota, Utah and Golden State did.

Those that submit to that type of thinking just don’t get it, for my hometown earned everything that they have received because they worked for it. When the Alfred P. Murrah Building was bombed on April 19. 1995, it was the ultimate pile-on, for the city was already in economic freefall and a non-entity nationally. The tragedy forced OKC to take a hard look at itself, and out of that reckoning came the MAPS program that literally reinvented Oklahoma City into a player on the world’s stage, and the difference in three decades is like night and day; and it all started with dealing with the grief of the tragedy followed by a therapeutic cleansing, The Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum is a dignified monument to all that were affected by the blast, and the growth that sprung up around it are indicators of a city on the road to true healing.

This is absolutely instructive for Tulsa, for they will never break the chains of stagnant growth until the city as a whole has a TRUE reckoning of the events that occurred over 100 years ago. The good news is that the beginnings of a recognition of those sad incidents are finally taking place with the new attention of a nation, so anything is possible. To everything, there is a season, so maybe, just maybe, the Ghosts of Tulsa (with President Biden visiting the city and being the first Commander-in-Chief EVER to fully acknowledge the Massacre) can finally find peace. I sincerely hope that it actually occurs in my lifetime.


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Updated 07-30-2021 at 08:02 PM by K SUMP ON SPORTS

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