Tuesday, July 18, 2006

A Gut-Punch
By Zach

"Bye bye Sonics."

That's the text message I received from a "friend" earlier today. I was out at lunch with my mother when the ominous words flashed across my cell phone screen, so there was little I could do but accept the sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. When I got home, my destination was SupersonicsSoul, where the bad news was confirmed. A few angry phone calls later, and here I am, sitting in front of my computer, trying to deal with the fact that in all likelihood my favorite team will be playing games sooner or later in Oklahoma City.

Seattlites have been through this before: Only a miraculous 1995 season and some legislative shenanigans kept the Mariners from moving to Tampa Bay (yeah, that worked out real well for baseball), and before selling the Seahawks to Paul Allen, Ken Behring had the team loaded up and ready to move to Los Angeles. So I'm not exactly unfamiliar with the possibilities of losing a franchise.

But the Sonics are different. They were the first professional franchise in Seattle: this year will be their 40th. They're still the only professional team to win a major championship in Seattle (1979). Heck, the only other team to do it, the Storm, will also be moving. The Sonics owned Seattle for much of my childhood: the Seahawks were bad and the Mariners were worse while the Sonics were making eight straight trips to the playoffs, including a run to the NBA Finals.

Plus, they're different for me. They were the team my father and I shared: he's always been more a basketball fan than any other sport, and I have too. Watching, and going, to Sonic games was a big part of my childhood and a way for the two of us to spend time together. It still is.

Now granted, the move hasn't been anounced. And I can still hold out hope that the Hornets end up in Oklahoma City instead of the Sonics, or that David Stern will realize that it looks bad for his league to move a team out of a city where it's been for 40 years. Or even that the new ownership and the city will reach some sort of agreement to keep the team around. Maybe they'll have to do what the 1995 Mariners did and electrify the city in order to generate some grassroots support. But deep down, it feels like sooner or later we're going to have to say goodbye.

And when we do, the NBA will be dead to me. No longer will I watch, or attend, or care about games. No one forced the Sonics to sign their lease, and no one forced them to accept a remodel on the Coliseum instead of a brand new building. Similarly, nothing will force me to care about the NBA.

So now this leaves me in a real state of limbo. Do I root for the team this year, hoping, however naively, that they won't leave? Or do I cut them off entirely, hardening my heart before the almost-inevitable departure? It's a tough choice to have to make. I'm sure I'll have more to say as details become available, but right now I'm not sure I can bear to write more.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Brandon said...

I'm with you completely. I have been a fan all of my life and even worked for the team part-time a couple years ago.

I just personally can't believe that Schultz would pull the rug out on the city like he did by selling to a group who, despite what they say, is so focused on bringing basketball to their hometown.

Now the city and state will have to give even more than they would have before or they will definitely lose the Sonics. This sucks. You can read my take on the whole thing by clicking on my name above.

4:16 PM  
Anonymous Brandon said...

I disagree with you all the way. I think that Seattle needs to move right now to avoid the curse of Mateen Cleaves. That way when the Pistons once again bid him farewell and he retreats back to Key with his giant teeth, he will not know what is going on.

11:10 PM  
Anonymous Ironhorse said...

Gut punch is exactly right. I loved baseball my entire life... and then the Expos were murdered - stabbed with a stiletto knife in the back - by Bud Selig. I know what you're going through.

I wish I could tell you it gets easier. It only gets different... In year one you follow the team because it's got your guys... but you don't live and die with every pitch (possesion, whatever). The next year you're totally removed - and you've completely lost touch with the sport.

It sucks. It really does. I dig Seattle... and you've been rooked recently (see: Super Bowl refs, UW loss to Uconn in the NCAAs)... I hope to see the Sonics stay in town.

And I'm not even a basketball fan.

1:00 AM  

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