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SuperSonics Win (Final?) I-5 Rivalry Against Trail Blazers

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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.

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About Russ Evenhuis

I'm a writer with a mid-life crisis. I'm into sports of all kind, a Seattle fan to my bones. A retired rugby player, now I punish myself with triathlons when I'm not hanging out with the family, drinking Guinness and playing PlayStation.
  • http://www.myspace.com/x15 Douglas Mays

    The I-5 rivalry! Yeah, what is to happen? So Bennett wants to use the city’s right to hang on to the name ‘Sonics’ and all the trophies and stuff as a way to break to lease with Key Arena.
    That should be part of the deal, regardless. We keep the name.

    But, at the same time the name usually goes with the team. Brooklyn Dodgers to LA Dodgers. Chicago Cardinals to St. Louis to Phoenix. LA Rams to St Louis. N.O. Jazz to Utah Jazz?

    Anyway, Seattle should at least hang on to the name. It might be a first in sports, but necessary. The OK City Sonics makes no sense. A name like the Tornado or something would fit.

    Anyway, I sure hope the I-5 trek between Portland and Seattle remains. It is always a great showdown. Especially when the two teams are fighting for a playoff position. Or both are in the playoffs. That has happened before…

    Much like the Portland Timbers vs. Seattle ounders in the old NASL days. Ugh! that is just a pitch for my article to be posted today or tomorrow…

    Stay Sonics!!!
    DM

  • http://www.myspace.com/x15 Douglas Mays

    Uhg! And to think about his ugly occurance…

    Los Angeles does not have an NFL franchise anymore. It all came down to stadium issues for them…

    At worst, we should do a St. Louis. They lose the Cardinals then pick up the Rams. We lose the Sonics and pick up the Hornets. The dif is we will call them the Sonics. As long as they have that distinction, things will be alright.

    Local owners came up with the cash to buy the Storm off of Bennett.

    Anyway, things will happen. we gotta keep it in our favor…

    DM

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    “Anyway, Seattle should at least hang on to the name. It might be a first in sports,”

    Cleveland hung onto the Browns name.

    “Los Angeles does not have an NFL franchise anymore.”

    The people don’t want one and certainly aren’t going to spend any tax dollars to get bone

  • http://www.myspace.com/x15 Douglas Mays

    Right! The Cleveland Browns. thanks for the reminder.

    Yeah, here in Seattle the Seahawks stadium was part tax, part private dollar. Which is actually the way it should be.

    The whole deal on that is the fact that stadiums are huge facilities designed to serve the public community. So you don’t like football? But you do love the Rolling Stones or U2 or whoever. Or some may go for the tractor pull. Or a city harvest festival event, etc.

    By having public dollars in on the deal that keeps the public’s hand in control of the facility. Otherwise, the stadium becomes more or less a WalMart or strip mall in the way it is built, zoned, way it is run, events you may not like being put in there (the world’s biggest orgy! cum now!!!), etc.

    anyway, when it comes to stadiums, the public should toss in a dime or two. Plus, it gives your city notice on a world level. They actually do serve the public, no matter who you are. Best to let the public have their hands on it instead of grimmey corporate dollars.

    Anyway,
    DM

  • http://www.myspace.com/x15 Douglas Mays

    “the people don’t want one”. Well, not true, actually. Who are these people are you talking about that represent 100% of the Los Angeles region?

    If nobody wanted one, why is there this huge convergence of fans driving to San Diego for a Chargers home game?

    The LA Coliseum or Rose Bowl just can’t cut it for NFL football needs. And with the various forms of wealth and lack of it in Los Angeles, the ability to tax the public fairly for stadium needs is probably prohibitive.

    Private + public funding is the way. 50-50.

    anyway…
    DM

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    It is true for many of the people that live here, but maybe you have a better perspective from Seattle.

    Southern California is a transitory place. Most people are already fans of a team from their home cities. There isn’t going to be much support for a new team, especially a bad one. LA fans get a much better option of games on television now that we aren’t stuck watching the home team, and plenty of people get their fill from USC. If people really wanted a team around here, we wouldn’t have lost two of them and 14 years ago.

    What is this “huge convergence of fans driving to San Diego”? The only time I ever hear someone from The OC going to see a game is when their favorite team is visiting. It’s not like there are a lot of people around here or in LA with season tickets for SD.

    Your statements just don’t wash with the facts on the ground.

  • http://www.myspace.com/x15 Douglas Mays

    Actually, regarding a huge convergence goes, lets put it at several hundred. SanDiego has no problem filling the stadium on their own. But I got my stats a few years ago on a train trip wife and I took from Seattle to LA. Onboard were a bunch of football-heads from LA. They filled me in. Yeah, there are people who do the travel from LA to SD on a regular basis. And then the stadium issues.

    Then I imagine it is just a pain in the ass to do the travel to a sporting event in the LA area. I can imagine going to Silver Lake to catch the Dodgers. Game over at 9:30 but you can’t even get home soon enuf to watch the highlights on the 11 o’clock news…then have to wake up and go to work the next morning…

    Anyway, I did get some information from LA football heads. I mean, not a huge cross section, but enuf to get an idea. Of these folks 6 of them said they go to SD a lot to see the Chargers. 6 out of 70,000 (sold out stadium). well, that is some sort of statistical percentage.

    DM

  • http://www.myspace.com/x15 Douglas Mays

    El Bicho, you know, this reminds me of when Ken Behring owned the Seattle Seahawks. The Kingdome was the home stadium, which was a multi-purpose facity (Baseball, Football, etc). Behring wanted a new stadium.

    So he moved the Seahawks down to California hoping to use the Anahiem stadium as a facility. Loaded up the trucks and everything. As it worked out the trucks had to drive back to Seattle.

    Lack of interest in NFL in LA? Transient population whose favorite team is from elsewhere? Yeah, go to San Diego if your favorite team is an opponent? Makes sense…

    The Seahawks sold to Paul Allen. He dumped some heavy coin into the building of a new facility. The tax payers picked up the rest of the tab. How it should be, the way I see it. It keeps the the whole deal in the hands of the people, which the sport represents and the facility serves.

    Now we have Steve Ballmer and his group proposing to pick up a hefty tab in updating the Key Arena. If they can become an ownership group, that would be ideal. Ballmer (and associates) make Bennett look like a welfare case.

    It could be deja vu all over again. This time with the SONICS!!!!

    best,
    DM