It was a complete twist of fate that Monday night was the rally for the Save Our Sonics group and that two courtside tickets fell into my lap at the last minute. I was excited to be going to Key Arena, that run-down arena according to David Stern and Clay Bennett, to see what might be the final game in the I-5 Rivalry against the hated Portland Trailblazers. It might also be the last chance I have to take my 15-year-old daughter to see the her first SuperSonics game in Seattle.
Walking into the arena, I started telling my daughter about watching Nate McMillan hit a three against the Blazers while hobbling around on one good leg. More stories about meeting Sam Perkins, Gary Payton, and Vin Baker after beating the T-Wolves in the 1996 playoffs came to me as we wound through the hallways. I was sure I had a hand in the victory, as all good fans believe. I stopped talking about it when my teenager's eye-rolling almost gave her a muscle cramp.
Had it really been so long ago that this building was considered state of the art? What’s so wrong with it? I spent a lot of time looking around with a critical eye and could not really see anything but then, I am untrained in what to look for with buildings like Key Arena.
Even before the game started, the 100 or so fans from Save Our Sonics, decked out in black T-shirts and holding signs, were vocal and loud. Every stop in play brought out the banners and the chants. This being Seattle, a sizable portion of the 11,292 people in attendance were either late or Portland fans, so it wasn’t terribly loud. The public address announcer was clearly heard saying a foul was on Portland guard Brandon Roy before changing it to Seattle guard Luke Ridnour, before finally settling on Portland forward Martell Webster.
By the time the Supes started getting hot, in the third quarter they held the Blazers to 10 points, the chants were getting louder and actually starting to ring the ears. When the 4th quarter was counting down, the Blazers had scored only 21 points and the chants were almost deafening. It was almost, but not quite, like the good old days again.
The best part was that the game was so tight and so exciting, I have a hard time remembering individual plays. But rookie Kevin Durant led the Sonics with 23 points and 9 rebounds, and the team was well aware of our presence in the stands.
If this is the end for the Sonics in Seattle, and that is yet to be decided, then I am glad I was there for one last time. I am glad it went like this game did. I am glad my daughter got to see the Sonics win. My daughter is sure she is the reason we won. Yes, I remember feeling like that too.