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Oklahoma City Thunder Named Best Sports Franchise of 2012 by ESPN The Magazine


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Part of Annual Comprehensive Pro Team Rankings in “Franchise Issue,” on Newsstands Friday

Green Bay Packers, San Antonio Spurs, Indiana Pacers, and Memphis Grizzlies round-out the Top Five; San Antonio Spurs Named Team of the Decade

They may have fallen just short in this year’s NBA Finals, but the Oklahoma City Thunder are the champions when it comes to ranking the Best Sports Franchises in North America.

That’s the determination of ESPN The Magazine’s 10th annual Ultimate Standings survey, featured in The Mag’s “Franchise Issue” on newsstands today. Every year, ESPN The Magazine compiles the results of fan surveys and financial analysis to determine which teams in the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL offer the greatest rewards for all the emotion, money and time that fans invest in them. The rankings are determined by a multi-tiered analysis that examines a team’s efficiency in spending fan money as compared to its on-field performance. It also factors in feedback in 21 categories from more than 70,000 fans nationwide, both online at and in polling conducted by both independent third parties.

The Thunder, who led or tied for first among all NBA teams in “likeable players,” “fan friendly environment,” and “appreciation for their fans” among all fans surveyed, topped this year’s 122-team Ultimate Standings—one of four NBA teams to rank in the top five overall.

Last year’s Ultimate Standings leader, the Green Bay Packers, finished second this year, followed in order by the San Antonio Spurs, Indiana Pacers and Memphis Grizzlies.

And while they finished third this year, the Spurs took home the title for Team of the Decade over the ten-year span that The Mag has conducted its Ultimate Standings research. The Spurs, who have ranked in the top ten every year of the study, “have figured out what fans want, on and off the court, and deliver it for reasonable prices year after year,” says The Mag. “If the Ultimate Standing didn’t exist, the Spurs could have invented them.”

The 10th annual edition of ESPN The Magazine’s Ultimate Standings — which ranks pro sports franchises based on how much teams give back to fans in exchange for all the time, money and emotion they invest in them — also features Aaron Rodgers and members of the Green Bay Packers offensive line on the cover as the team garnered the honors as The Mag’s NFL Team of the Decade. Check out behind-the-scenes video with Green Bay’s QB on his goals for the upcoming season:

Rounding out the top ten in this year’s Ultimate Standings were the NHL’s Phoenix Coyotes (6th) and Tampa Bay Lightning (7th); the New Orleans Saints (8th), and baseball’s Texas Rangers (9th) and Arizona Diamondbacks (10th).

In all, 122 teams from the NFL, NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball were ranked in order, based on a weighted average of scores in eight different categories ranging from the quantitative to the emotionally subjective: “bang for the buck” (21.6%), players (19.0%), fan relations (20.9%), affordability (16.7%), stadium experience (8.5%), ownership (8.1%), title track (3.2%), and coaching (2.0%).

The Thunder led all 122 teams in the category of “stadium experience,” ranking second overall in “players (effort and likability)” and “fan relations,” and fifth in “affordability.” Their engagement with their passionate fan base, both in and outside of Oklahoma City, was also tops among all 122 pro teams, ranking first in engaging fans through social media as well as in connecting fans to information online or via mobile devices.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs (#122) and the NBA’s Sacramento Kings (#121), were the two lowest-ranked teams in the Ultimate Standings, ranking lower than the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats (#120), the NHL’s New York Islanders (#119), and the NBA’s Washington Wizards (#118). Rounding out

the “bottom ten” were MLB’s Boston Red Sox (#117), the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets (#116), the NFL’s St. Louis Rams (#115), the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers (#114), and the NBA’s New York Knicks (#113).

For an overall list of Ultimate Standings visit, and for more information on the methodology behind Ultimate Standings.

ESPN The Magazine’s “Franchise Issue” also features the real BCS Champ (Oklahoma); the best quarterback in the NFL (Aaron Rogers of the Green Bay Packers), and the Most Successful (and financially shameless) franchise on earth (Manchester United).

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Media Contact: Carrie Kreiswirth – 860-766-6042