By Randy Renner
In a move that surprised almost no one, the Thunder announced Monday that TV analyst Grant Long had resigned his position effective immediately and would not be returning this coming season for Thunder TV broadcasts on Fox Sports Oklahoma.
Long had held the position since the Thunder moved to Oklahoma City from Seattle back in the summer of 2008.
Long's name got into the news recently for more than just basketball and that has apparently led to his decision to leave the team and the broadcasts.
According to a report aired early this month by Oklahoma City's Fox TV affiliate, KOKH Channel 25, Long received a $5,000 loan from an Oklahoma City businessman to pay off some outstanding debts. The report said Long agreed to pay back $6,000 in 45 days. That debt became due last October but when Fox 25's report aired this month it still hadn't been paid.
Long confirmed to the TV station that he did indeed have a handwritten agreement for a loan with Larry Rowell, a jewelry store owner, and was quoted as saying he would repay the debt.
“There is an agreement between Larry and I,” Long told Fox 25. “Without going into much detail, which I won't do, (I'll) just say that his loan will be satisfied. It's not like I'm running out of town on a deal that I left on the table.”
Long is now being sued by Rowell. The station's report also quoted court documents as indicating nine different business, including two local quick-cash companies, have filed lawsuits against Long since his loan from Rowell.
Earlier this year, Long filed for bankruptcy in federal court. His initial paperwork, according to Fox 25, listed just four creditors. Two of them are out-of-state casinos that Long said he owed more than $300,000.
The team announced Long's resignation in a brief statement sent out to reporters late Monday afternoon, "The Thunder wishes Grant well and will immediately begin the search of finding his replacement."
The team would like to have someone in place by media day which will be coming up in a bit more than two months.
Among those who might be considered for the job one local favorites is sure to be Desmond Mason. Mason played his college ball at Oklahoma State and spent a decade in the NBA. he was drafted by the Sonics and also played here in OKC with the Hornets when they played here for a couple seasons and for a season with the Thunder.
He looks good, sounds good and has a stellar reputation. What's not clear right now is if he would want the job. Mason's art career is really rolling now and he also works for a local bank. He might not want the day-to-day grind of NBA games and road trips and hanging around practices.
If he's interested in the gig, he'd be great.
Someone else who'd be outstanding, if he's interested, would be current Chicago Bulls TV analyst Stacey King. King of course grew up in Lawton and played at OU under former Sooners coach Billy Tubbs and is considered one of the best Sooner hoopsters ever.
However, King has been in Chi-Town for a long time and is very popular on Bulls telecasts so it might be near impossible to pull him away.
A couple of other names that might come up include Malik Rose, who also played for the Thunder toward the end of his NBA career. Rose is already doing some TV, he was a studio analyst for Fox Southwest for a while, working a few Thunder games but mostly San Antonio Spurs contests. Last season he was the game analyst on Philadelphia 76ers telecasts.
More than likely the Thunder and Fox will pick a former NBA player for the job but if not they might decide to look within their own organization. Thunder radio voice Matt Pinto knows the NBA game as well as anyone but play-by-play has always been his thing so he might not be interested in being an analyst, even on TV.
Now back to Grant Long for a moment.
I met him when the team moved here that summer of 2008. From the beginning he was always a pleasure to talk with and discuss the NBA, cuss and discuss our favorite baseball teams (the Red Sox and Astros, me and the Yankees, Grant) and he was always quick with a smile, a joke and a laugh.
G-Man, I wish you nothing but the best as you move forward and work to solve the problems you face.
Better days are ahead my friend, but I'm still not gonna root for those damn Yankees of yours.