Got rid of every player on the Kings roster. Except Isaiah Thomas.
Got Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, Lebron James, and Ray Allen in exchange.
IT’S A NEW BEGINNING, SONICS FANS!
*Disclaimer: Please understand that this trade would never happen. Ever. The moral of the story is that the NBA is coming back to Seattle, the Sonics are alive again, and playing with ESPN’s Trade Machine is once again relevant to us. Enjoy it, Sonics fans. We’re back.
Filed under: Sonics
The accountant who leases the office space in my company’s building has never said much more than a casual “Hello” to me in two-and-a-half years. I always politely greet him in return, and we’ll occasionally share a “How ya doing?” followed by a “Good, good. You?” We may have exchanged comments on the weather a few times, and perhaps even celebrated the occasional TGIF moment as we’ve checked out for the weekend. But in all, we’ve never really talked about anything of substance.
There’s a clerk at the grocery store I stop at on my way to work. He’s silver-haired, probably in his early-fifties. I’ve watched him interact with other patrons, as well as his coworkers. He has a sense of humor and a gregarious personality. He’s likable and appears to be well-liked. He can deliver a joke and is quick with a laugh. We had never spoken before, until one day when I stood in the aisle perusing cold drinks and heard to my left an abrupt, “Hey!”
At a different supermarket, a pretty, dark-haired girl who appears to be in her early-twenties rings up my late-night purchases one evening. I’m the lone person in line, and only a handful of nocturnal shoppers populate the landscape around us. As she runs a few unhealthy snacks across the scanner, the checker notices my shirt. “So,” she inquires, “do you think they’re coming back?”
I look through old photos of my childhood and find one of my brother and myself standing in a field. The field seems to greet the horizon, miles and miles away. I am probably 10 years of age in this picture, my brother no more than seven. The year is 1994.
We’re in Kenmare, North Dakota, a small mill town in the western part of the state. You’d barely notice it on a map. It’s where my relatives lived, and here in this picture we stand amidst knee-high grass across a gravel road from my great-grandfather’s farm. It’s the middle of summer, probably late-July or early-August.
Summers in Kenmare are hot, sticky, infested by mosquitoes who riddle your body with itchy, swelling bumps. Over the course of that summer trip, as well as trips before and after it, I build collections of mosquito bites and tally the wounds on a nightly basis. To a 10-year-old without a care in the world, each bite is like a trophy I wear upon my skin, a badge worthy of sharing with anyone who will give me two seconds of their time.
Twilight lingers around us as a single blemish dots the graying sky above our heads. The moon hangs there, a telltale sign of the time of day this photo was captured.
In the waning light you can make out the logos on our t-shirts. Green-and-gold semi-circles are stamped upon each garment.
“Hey, how ya doing?” The accountant waits by the elevator as I exit the nearby staircase.
“Good,” I reply. “You?”
“Good,” he responds. “I like that shirt.”
I’m wearing a kelly green Supersonics sweatshirt, crewneck, early-nineties style. It’s colorful, it’s loud, it’s exactly how I feel about the basketball team we used to have here in Seattle.
“Oh yeah?” I laugh. “Thanks!”
“They’re coming back soon,” he affirms.
With a grin, I agree. “Yep, they’ll be back shortly.”
We go our separate ways. It’s a ten-second interaction. It’s filled with more substance than any interaction we’ve previously had over the past 31 months.
Thanks to the occasional UPS package that’s been left in our care as office space neighbors to the accountant, I know his name is Brad. And after today, I know that Brad, like me, is a Sonics fan.
“You think we’re gonna get the Kings?” asks the silver-haired clerk.
“Man, I hope so,” I respond. I’m wearing a bright green Sonics t-shirt on this day, a throwback to two decades earlier.
“I bet we do. And here’s what I think should happen…” He goes off into a well-thought-out mission statement of sorts on what the Sonics will do once they return to Seattle. He alludes to draft picks and free agents — “What do you think about Durant? You think we can get him back?” — and unleashes as much knowledge as any NBA fan could possibly have.
I nod. I listen. I offer what I know.
We speak for almost 10 minutes in front of chilled sodas and bottles of water. We’re beaming from ear to ear as we talk, getting ourselves excited over nothing more than a hope, a possibility.
As our conversation comes to a close, he pauses, then remarks, “It was great talking with you.”
“Likewise,” I say. And it was, too. There’s no hint of forced exaggeration in either of our voices. We’re just two fans, chatting.
He goes back to stocking shelves. I grab my drink and head to the front of the store. We acknowledge one another each time we meet thereafter.
“They’re coming back,” I assert. I’m sporting a grey hooded sweatshirt with a Sonics logo on it, a purchase I made just days after the team moved to Oklahoma City back in 2008.
“Really?” asks the dark-haired checker. “Good. I can’t wait to go back to games.”
“Yeah, it’s not done yet,” I admit, “but it’ll happen soon enough.”
“That’s awesome. I’m excited!” She smiles wide as she hands me my receipt. “Have a good night!”
“You too,” I reply.
I can’t suppress a half-smirk as I walk away. People are excited about this. People are excited about the Sonics.
The photo tells the story. From a young age, I grew up a Sonics fan. So did my brother. So did my friends. We were all Sonics fans.
There was this portrayal by the nation’s media in the aftermath of the team’s departure that this region was littered with apathetic pseudo-fans. That no one here really cared that the team left. Even in our own city, where lawmakers publicly questioned the value of the basketball team, there were those who didn’t know just how important the Sonics were to us.
As time has passed, people’s eyes have been opened. They’ve seen how much this matters to us. They’ve seen how badly we miss our team, and how eagerly we await their return.
It’s not so much if they return, but when. And a week ago, when news broke that this was it, that it was finally on the verge of happening, well, we rejoiced.
This is more than a basketball organization. It’s more than a logo and colors. It’s more than a few players, more than a uniform. For Seattleities, the Sonics have embodied what it means to hope, what it means to dream, what it means to believe in something. We bond over their memory. We unite over their future. We share moments of memorable interaction over a team.
Losing the Sonics was the worst thing that’s ever happened to sports fans in this town. But now, in the wake of their revival, we can reflect on the past four years and see them for what they’ve been. The adversity that came along with our collective loss brought us all together. And no quantity of statistics, no congregation of naysayers, no antagonists of our fight can refute that.
We are stronger than we were five years ago. We deserve this team. We deserve the Seattle Supersonics.
Filed under: Sonics
For example, today I was playing pickup basketball when a dude that I don’t really know all that well kept fouling me. Every shot I took, he’d run beneath me, undercutting my follow-through so that I landed awkwardly. It’s one of the dirtiest moves in sports. You just don’t undercut people on the basketball court. It’s like hitting below the belt in boxing. It’s a no-no.
It’s not just that he was fouling me today that bugged me. This was the second week in a row that dude had performed these annoyingly dangerous little tactics. I had asked him to stop last week and he didn’t. So this week I didn’t ask him. I just hit him. And I told him never to do it again. Sometimes you just gotta hit people. Let that be a lesson, kids: Always keep it real.
Fact is, I don’t like this guy. He could shake my hand and tell me he’s sorry and I still probably wouldn’t like him. I really hope that every time he walks outside, a condor flies overhead and sh*ts on him. I don’t want horribly bad things to happen to him. Just little, sucky things like that. I can only imagine how sucky getting sh*t on by a condor must be.
Which brings us to Clay Bennett.
(And yes, to be clear, I am lumping the dick that fouled me repeatedly in with Clay Bennett. I dislike him that much. He’s a borderline terrorist.)
Clay Bennett, as you may have heard, was appointed head of the NBA’s relocation committee on Friday by commissioner David Stern. This is essentially like being named head of al Qaeda’s flee-to-the-hills-of-Pakistan committee by Osama bin Laden.
“Uh, okay, so we moving then? To hills of Pakistan? Is that right?”
“I don’t know, ask Clay Bennett, he big boss now.”
(Read with Pakistani accent, for the record.)
Now if you know me, you know I’m big on analogies. Analogizing situations allows one to put things into perspective in a more comprehensible way. So here’s the first analogy that came to my mind when I heard this news.
(Bear with me if this analogy doesn’t float your boat right away. It’ll all tie back together in the end.)
If you’re like me, you read all the Harry Potter books (or, at the very least, saw all the movies). And as you were reading these books, there were points in the story when you became angry. You became angry because grave injustices were being perpetuated upon Harry and his friends. And the story was so well-written that the feeling of helplessness in the face of adversity and malfeasance was transferred unto you, the reader, when, say, Dolores Umbridge was named High Inquisitor at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, for instance.
On Friday, when I heard about Clay, I immediately thought of Dolores Umbridge. Dolores Umbridge and her role as High Inquisitor. Because her circumstances and Clay’s are basically one in the same. Umbridge was a deceptive bitch who was granted near-totalitarian control by an evil regime; Bennett is a deceptive dick who was likewise granted near-totalitarian control by an evil regime. Holy crap! Twins.
If you haven’t read the books yet, then you might not know how this ends. But really, you’ve had plenty of time. So I’ll go ahead and tell you what happens anyway.
In the fifth installment of the Harry Potter series, Umbridge is relieved of her duties as High Inquisitor when she badmouths a group of forest-dwelling centaurs who carry her off into the woods and likely sodomize her.
(The part about sodomy was added by me. We never really find out what happens to Umbridge after the centaurs get a hold of her, though she does resurface alive and well in the seventh and final installment of Harry Potter. But come on. They’re primitive horse-men. What else would they do with her?)
I certainly don’t want to make assumptions or anything, but is there any chance that Bennett ends up better off than Umbridge when all this relocating comes to a halt? I would wager that no, there is not. He may not get kidnapped by centaurs, but he’ll probably go the way of Voldemort and get blown up by a teenaged wizard or something. That said, if you or someone you know has the number for a group of vigilante half-humans/half-broncos, please don’t hesitate to pass it along.
In all seriousness, this appointment is almost laughable. One can hardly fathom a more serendipitous aligning of the stars than this. The king of shady franchise migration named head of the Shady Franchise Migration committee? It’s a match made in heaven.
Long story short, it all boils down to this:
David Stern is evil. Clay Bennett is evil. You want to just hit both of ‘em square in the jaw but you can’t and it blows. They keep fouling, keep undercutting, keep irking you to the point of snapping, but unlike me and dude on the basketball court, there’s nothing you can do about it.
The fact that Bennett has swallowed so much of Stern’s seed over the years probably qualifies him for this all-empowering promotion-of-sorts, but it’s still sucky. There’s no other way to put it. It’s just sucky.
Like getting sh*t on by a condor.
Watch out for big birds, Clay.
Filed under: Sonics