This article was planned as a mid-season report card for the Seattle SuperSonics, my home team that I care deeply about. No really, I do. Despite what you may have heard from David Stern, I and a lot of people in the Seattle area care deeply about this team. The Sonics were the first professional franchise of the modern era in Seattle. The team brought Seattle its first and, for a long time, only championship. The team has been here for 41 years, two years longer than I have been alive.
In 1987, I was in the Army in Germany on all night duty watching the Sonics take on the Lakers. It was a thrill to have all the Lakers fans around me get quieter and quieter as Dale Ellis, Tom Chambers, and "X-Man" Xavier McDaniel give the Lakers all they could handle and more.
In 1992, I got a black Sonics practice jersey to wear for lunchtime pickup games and pretended I was Gary Payton. I had all the attitude and mouth with none of the skills but I would knock you down before I let you drive the lane on me.
In 1994, I was in the Army in Colorado, working on a Saturday while the Sonics, winners of 63 games and the top seed in the playoffs, played Game 5 against the Denver Nuggets. I was exhausted after driving to Denver to watch Game 3 from the very top row of McNichols Arena. There were three other Sonics fans there apart from me. When I was finally released to go, I ran to the parking lot to meet my wife. I sat on the sidewalk and turned my walkman on just in time to hear the Denver announcers going crazy, screaming that Dikembe Mutumbo was on the floor clutching the ball. I starting crying right there in my uniform. I threw my Walkman across the parking lot where it exploded in a thousand pieces. My boss started talking trash to me the next day about it but stopped quickly when he realized it was way too soon to mess with me about the Sonics.
In 1996, I almost got fired because I took a 3-hour lunch to watch the Sonics play the Bulls in Game 5 of the NBA Finals. I offered to change my time sheet to leave without pay to make up for it. My boss looked at me with sadness and said no — her husband was a Sonics fan too.
Now team owner Clay Bennett wants to move the team from its home for 41 years to Oklahoma City. I don’t necessarily hate him for wanting to bring a team to his hometown. I can understand why and I wish him luck with it. I do hate him, though, for trying to take mine. And I hate him for how he is trying to do it.
He is telling people in Seattle that it won’t hurt the city at all if the team leaves but then turning around and telling the people in Oklahoma City that the team will be a boon for the economy.
NBA commissioner David Stern, who helped induct Bennett into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame, stands idly by making grave announcements about the death of the NBA in Seattle in one breath while talking about expanding into Europe and Asia in another. Franchises flounder in Charlotte, Memphis, and New Orleans while the team in Seattle is so beloved by the people here that when Bill Simmons of ESPN asked for emails from fans, he received over 3000 in less than 24 hours.