NEW YORK, July 31, 2008 – The National Basketball Association announced today that the Professional Basketball Club, LLC, owner of the Oklahoma City NBA franchise, has reached an agreement in principle to purchase the Tulsa 66ers of the NBA Development League from Southwest Basketball, LLC. Oklahoma City becomes the third NBA team to purchase an NBA D-League affiliate, joining the Los Angeles Lakers (L.A. D-Fenders) and the San Antonio Spurs (Austin Toros) as sole owners of their affiliates.
“As owners of the Tulsa 66ers, we will be able to oversee the team's business operations and provide a valuable developmental vehicle for some of our young players,” said Clay Bennett, chairman of Professional Basketball Club, LLC. “We have received tremendous support from Tulsa for our NBA team in Oklahoma City and we are excited to be a part of the NBA D-League in the Tulsa area. It’s going to be a great partnership.”
Oklahoma City will oversee all aspects of the organization, including implementing the offensive and defensive systems the 66ers run in practices and games, and hiring all business and basketball staff. Oklahoma City will also have exclusive rights to assign its players with one or two years of NBA experience to the 66ers. The 66ers will play their home games in the new SpiritBank Event Center in Bixby, OK.
“As the third NBA team in as many years to purchase its own NBA D-League team, Oklahoma City and Clay Bennett are demonstrating the value the NBA D-League is creating for fans and NBA teams alike," said NBA D-League President Dan Reed. “Fans and families in Tulsa will enjoy the affordable, NBA-caliber entertainment experience resulting from the deep integration with a nearby NBA team, while Oklahoma City will benefit greatly from the ability to closely manage its top prospects’ development with the 66ers.”
The 66ers saw meaningful contributions from NBA-assigned players Nick Fazekas (Dallas Mavericks) and Ramon Sessions (Milwaukee Bucks) last season. Following his time with the 66ers, Sessions became the first player with NBA D-League experience to earn an NBA monthly award when he was named April's T-Mobile Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month. Head coach Joey Meyer, who is the winningest coach in NBA D-League history with 175 regular season wins, guided the 66ers to a 26-24 record during the 2007-08 season.
Prior to moving to Tulsa, the 66ers were known as the Asheville Altitude, one of the founding NBA D-League teams which began play in 2001. As the Altitude, the club won NBA D-League Championships in 2004 and 2005.
“We are excited to have an exclusive affiliation with our NBA D-League team in Tulsa. It provides a unique and valuable opportunity to have consistency and synergy in how we develop some of our young players, coaches, and staff,” said Sam Presti, general manager for the Oklahoma City NBA team. “Its close proximity will also provide us great convenience and flexibility.”
The acquisition of the 66ers by the Professional Basketball Club, LLC signals another success on the heels of the three-year old NBA/D-League assignment system. Since the inception of the NBA/D-League assignment system prior to the 2005-06 season, NBA teams have assigned 84 players a total of 130 times, including 19 NBA teams assigning 31 players to D-League rosters during the 2007-08 season.
Additionally, 30 percent of the 2007 NBA Draft class has spent time in the NBA D-League, including first round selections, Daequan Cook (21st overall), Morris Almond (25th overall), Aaron Brooks (26th overall) and Alando Tucker (29th overall), who were assigned to their respective team’s D-League affiliate, while a total of 18 players earned Gatorade Call-ups from 11 NBA teams last year.