Tuesday, 10 April 2012
SONICLESS IN SEATTLE
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
Larry O'Brien. That's the name you may just associate NBA favourites the Oklahoma City Thunder with soon. That's because of names like Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and many more. Soon the city of Oklahoma that's only housed a pro-basketball team for four years could soon be home to a champion like Nicki Minaj featuring Drake, Young Jeezy and Nas. Like the hammer of Thor, these NBA avengers look to assemble and start their reign over the league and that is really something to marvel at. Its all looking stormy in the city of Thunder now with a forecast of championships but with all that there is no reign in Seattle these days.
Can you believe it? These fans have remained sleepless like Tom Hanks without their basketball for almost half a decade and the feelings are still raw. Switched off like no more classic 'Frasier' on the tube, tuned out like no more Nirvana on the frequency. They say heaven is a playground and that's pretty much all they've got basketball wise in Seattle now.
Then again if you step into the relic that is the beautiful Key Arena then you'll still see players in white and green, but that pure shooter draining three's isn't Ray Allen. It's the incredible Sue Bird and her former champion WNBA Seattle Storm side. Still forecasting some great basketball in the state of Washington despite recent reports.
Even so however the Sonic pulse that charged this basketball city is still missing. Apart from the ladies of the court and hometown band Pearl Jam"s original ties to number 10, nighties, Atlanta guard Mookie Blaylock that's it. One of the most popular and recognisable franchises of the golden age of the nighties is gone, moved to Oklahoma, stripped of its colours and its name. Where's the justice for the Seattle Supersonics?
Save our Sonics was the plea but nobody heeded the call. As the chairman of Starbucks brought the team and woke them up to the beautiful aroma of the city of Oklahoma, but didn't give two cups about the coffee town and Seattle's best. Sure the move was good in a few respects, (new fan base, great town etc) but why not just an expansion franchise? The whole change of the team identity, from the colour to the name, made it just look like the Sonics had their players (led by an impressive young Durant) stolen.
OK so the Sonics name, logo and colours will be available to any subsequent Seattle NBA team that is created...but when will that be? David Stern is just "considering". All Seattle is left with is the critical acclaim of 'Sonicsgate-Requiem For A Team'. Then again with all this being said, K.D. and co may have gone elsewhere even if the Thunder stayed as the Supersonics in Seattle, but we never know what might have happened in this unpredictable NBA league.
It could have all been for better or worse or you never know just the same. The second coming of success for the new generation of Seattle ballers, a basketball city that Gary built.
No matter how great the fans, the Ford Centre and the city of Oklahoma is at motoring the Thunder forward are. The argument that Seattle wasn't a good place for a basketball franchise fell on the deaf ears left by the protesting Sonics fans who went all 'Battle Seattle' like Woody Harrelson and Andre 3000 and ended up being out casted like a semi-pro team...cheers hey? Such is the fate of American franchise teams moving cities in this business first sports world, an issue that still needs to be addressed today before the Kings and everyone else lose their thrones.
Put it this way New Orleans, Minneapolis and Vancouver, there's no Jazz in Utah or historical lakes in L.A. (apart from that ocean) and have you ever seen a Grizzly bear in Memphis? It's almost like finding bigfoot or looking for Sonic mascot Squatch in Seattle. Sure when Charlotte lost the Hornets to New Orleans, having a basketball team in Louisiana helped unite the city of New Orleans in troubled times like Lil' Wayne. But even Charlotte got the Bobcats in the end. So what about Seattle? What about the 41 years? What about the fans?
What about the good ole days? The classic arena, logo and jerseys. Spencer Haywood in the seventies taking on the whole Association. Hall of Famers Lenny Wilkens and Dennis Johnson (rest in peace). The X-Men Xavier McDaniel, Wolverine slashing dunking days and the real superstars. The Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp duet days. The new more, exciting, alley-ooping Malone and Stockton tandem days. The trash talk meeting the high top fade. The glove fitting defensive days wrapped around Jordan. The reign of one of the most exciting big men, monster dunkers, sky rocketing high like the Space Needle. Before Blake Griffin. Before the weight, before the hate. Before the Lakers.
Now even Ice Cube can't reminisce about his Lakers beating the Supersonics, I guess it really was a good day...past tense. Yesterday Seattle was heating up like coffee houses in the nighties. New like extra cream but classic like Americano. From Sam Perkins to Hersey Hawkins. Detlef Schrempf to Nate McMillan. Even in Patrick Ewing's sole season or the twilight years of Vin Baker, Ray Allen, Rashard Lewis, the dunking Desmond Mason and the beginning of the age of Durant, it was all Seattle. It was all good.
This was a franchise that should have been celebrated, not cremated to the ashes like perhaps Phoenix if the Suns don't rise again over the next few seasons. Sure we couldn't be happier for the new legend of the super Oklahoma City Thunder, but its a legacy the Sonics and the city of Seattle helped create. All change may be on the Western front but sometimes nostalgia can't help us look at times gone by and all that they've done. With credit due to the championship promising Oklahoma City Thunder, let us not forget who helped them become what they are today. After all don't they say 'you never know where your truly going, until you know where you came from'. The storming Thunder are going places...at Supersonic speed.