I know how you feel, Sonics fans. I feel the exact same way. We’re frustrated, exhausted, angry, disappointed, all of the above. Why should we care about the NBA anymore? Why should we give a damn about David Stern and his godforsaken league? All valid questions. All valid reasons to walk away from this situation that won’t seem to find its happy ending.
Frankly, it would be easier to quit at this point then continue investing our energy in a dream that may never become a reality. It would be easier to throw our hands up, turn our backs on the Association, and be done with pro basketball altogether.
But what would that say about us? What would that say about the legacy of the hope we’ve kept alive all this time, this flame we’ve kept burning, this battle from which we’ve never backed down? Did Benny Rodriguez stop running when The Beast chased him? Did Frodo abort the journey to Mordor when he got tired? Did Phil, and Stu, and Alan give up when they were handed Black Doug in the middle of the Nevada desert? No, no, and no. There is no quit here. Now is not the time to stop fighting.
In all seriousness, and before we go any further, a reminder: The decision made yesterday by the NBA owners, the decision to deny the relocation of the Sacramento Kings, was wholly anticipated. Sure, we hoped that the owners would find it in their hearts (e.g. wallets) to allow the Kings to migrate north to Seattle, but we knew that result wasn’t likely. Ultimately, our suspicions were correct and relocation was voted down. Seattle’s prospective ownership group invested a ton in pushing for the move and sale of the Kings — money, time, resources, all of that. Likewise, Seattle fans like you and I invested a great deal of energy and emotion. It’s not easy to get rejected upon investing so much. But it happens. And now we need to move on.
There’s a future here. In order to embrace that future, we need to remain committed for the long haul. Yes, we had the Kings situation fall in our lap rather quickly amidst all this madness that commenced when Chris Hansen voiced his initial intention to purchase an NBA team. But that’s just one opportunity. It appears today that that opportunity may not come to be. Think of it like dating. You aren’t necessarily going to find your true love on your very first date. There’s an investment of time and emotion, not unlike the investment we’ve made to this basketball team of ours, that requires a certain amount of patience and resolve. We dated the Kings. We need to date someone else now.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that Hansen and his ownership group have agreed to with King County and the City of Seattle allows for a five-year term in which a new arena can be built in Seattle’s SODO district. That term elapses in September, 2017, which essentially gives Hansen, et al, a little longer than four years to secure an NBA franchise. Per the terms of the MOU, once an NBA franchise is secured, ground can be broken on the construction of the new arena. That gives us our most important asset: time. We have time on our side. Time to find another existing team on the auction block, time to engage in expansion talks with the league, time to figure everything out. If nothing else, we have that.
Beyond a MOU and 50-some-odd months in our pocket, we should have more reasonable power players to deal with in the coming months. The hated Stern is on his way out, retiring in February. In his stead, the NBA’s new commissioner will be the seemingly more affable Adam Silver, who went so far as to profess his desire to bring basketball back to Seattle during yesterday’s press conference following the owners meeting. Who knows for sure if Silver will act upon his declarations, but just knowing his predecessor is out of the picture is encouraging. David Stern hates Seattle and we, in turn, hate him. Having that evil little bastard depart for old age can only make the prospect of a Sonics return much more viable going forward.
Power players aren’t just limited to the NBA, however. In Seattle, the political charge is spearheaded by Mayor Mike McGinn and County Executive Dow Constantine. With these two individuals working hand-in-hand with Hansen’s group, the climate around a Sonics return will always be favorable. It should be noted that 2013 is an election year, though. To ensure a continued favorable political climate, it wouldn’t hurt to cast a vote for our friends in office. But hey, don’t let me influence you or anything.
Finally, we have us, the fans. We’re as critical to the future of the Sonics as anyone with billion dollar bankrolls or governmental wherewithal. It’s up to us to keep the nation aware of our existence, to remind the NBA what they lost when they let Clay Bennett march into town, deceive everyone, and steal our team. We need to keep sporting the green-and-gold colors, keep rocking the gear, keep reminiscing about the greatness that was 41 years of local basketball history. Without the fans, without our spirit, the Seattle Supersonics are nothing more than a fading memory. We are responsible for keeping hope alive. I implore you to not give up.
This will happen. The Sonics will return. There is no doubt in mind. Keep fighting the good fight, sports fans. Our day will come soon and when it does, all of this will be worth it.
Forever and always, Go Sonics.
Filed under: Sonics
I hate losing. I once sat in a 1991 Toyota Previa in the Factoria Square parking lot and bawled for an hour because I had pitched poorly in a Little League game and had cost my team a victory. My family went inside to eat dinner and I stayed in the van, refusing to eat, refusing to move. I don’t do well with defeat. I never have. Even now, there is little that can be done to assuage me when my team so much as drops a rec basketball game. I will either a) sit in grim silence for an entire car ride home, or b) verbally break down every single thing that went wrong on our failed quest for triumph. My friends deserve a lot of credit for dealing with that version of me that, to this day, struggles to cope with losing.
I guess in many ways it’s ironic that I am a Seattle sports fans — I don’t know how to lose, and seemingly all my teams do is just that. My whole life, I’ve encountered failure from these entities I hold so dear to me, and yet I’ve never learned how to accept the bitter taste of defeat. I sat through an entire childhood of Seahawks futility, labored through thousands (literally, thousands) of Mariner losses, had seats in the upper level for every home game of the only 0-12 season in University of Washington football history, then paid witness to the ultimate heartbreak when the Sonics were taken from us and moved to Oklahoma City.
When I started this website and began writing in a public forum, I didn’t really know what would happen next. On the day I embarked upon this journey — November 12th, 2008, officially — Seattle was in a rut. We were only a couple months removed from losing the Sonics, in the midst of that fateful 0-12 Husky football campaign, had just suffered through a 100-loss Mariners season, and were on the verge of watching the Seahawks put together a miserable 4-12 finish. Things were worse than usual and I felt compelled to share my emotions. For me, it was the only way to cope with, at that time, 24 years of misery come to a head.
Over the course of four-and-a-half years, I’ve witnessed firsthand what bonding over tragedy truly looks like. We tend to think of the loss of human life as one of the few instances where the term “tragedy” applies. On a much smaller (and undoubtedly, less important) scale, however, losing a game, a playoff berth, or a team is viewed as a tragedy in the microcosmic world of your typical sports fan. Knowing that, Seattle sports fans must be some of the most grief-stricken people in the history of organized athletics. We should be miserable. At all times. And occasionally we do get that way. But for all the shit we go through so frequently, there is this perpetual hope existing amongst all of us that bears mentioning. It is not at all insignificant in its existence.
I remember the day the Sonics left town back in 2008. I didn’t mourn that day, or anytime shortly thereafter. It took me until the opening day of the ’08-’09 season to realize that we weren’t getting our team back anytime soon. Up to that point, I had refused to accept the inevitable. I just could not do it. That might make me the least credible person in the world when it comes to saying what I’m about to say, but screw it, I’ll say it anyway.
I may be naive. I may be on an island. I may be the only one who still believes after the events of Monday afternoon that Seattle is destined to get its NBA team back. But I truly have faith that this good thing, this return, is going to happen. I have no sound logic behind my faith, because really, that’s not what faith is. Faith is believing in something not knowing if that thing actually exists. Faith is blind and sometimes stupid and often irrational and possibly inane. But faith is necessary. Faith exists to give us hope and reason to get up each morning. Faith exists to make us smile even though we’re sad, to persevere when times are tough. I have faith that, even though the NBA has told us we won’t get someone else’s basketball team on this day, we will still get our Sonics back.
On this day, things kind of suck. We’re hurting, and no one wants to hurt. We’ve been down this road before, this path to what appears to be yet another tragic ending. All along, though, we’ve never given up. This city and its fans have pulled together time and time again for reasons unknown. We’ve bonded in moments of adversity on countless occasions and we’ve done so with little more than faith holding us together. I don’t really know what it means to be truly exceptional, but I like to think that Seattle sports fans are exactly that. We don’t settle for the tragedy of losing. We fall, and then we rise again. Every single time. So why should this time be any different?
If the NBA spurns us — if the NBA spurns Seattle and Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer and all the good people who have made this new arena we’re going to build a reality — it will be a blow to our collective psyche that I don’t want to try to process right now. It appears today that the NBA may be one step closer to disappointing us, but I like to think there’s something else going on, something good, that maybe we don’t know about yet.
I have this unreasonable amount of hope for us. I know that. I may be foolish for that. Whatever. When you’ve been through as much crap as we have, there really is no other way to approach obstacles as they present themselves.
I believe in Seattle. I believe in Seattle’s sports fans. We are strong individually and even stronger together. We’re destined for good, I just know it.
So I leave you with this clip. As dumb as it is, it makes sense on this day. Because nothing is over until we say it is.
Filed under: Other Sports
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
There has been a lot of misinformation surrounding the general public sentiment towards Chris Hansen’s Seattle arena project. Much of that misinformation has stemmed from poorly-worded and what many consider to be biased — yes, biased — polls.
To clear up any confusion, we here at Seattle Sportsnet have decided to issue a poll of our own. We want to see how local citizens really feel about this new arena that could one day house our beloved Supersonics, as well as an NHL team, concerts, conventions, other sporting events, parties, and other fun things that make life worth living.
This is a simple poll. It’s multiple choice. You can either vote “Yes” or “No.” It’s that easy. Here you go:
Filed under: Sonics
Imagine, for a minute, that I am a pimp boss. I run this town. I oversee all the pimps on these streets and offer them my protection. I also coordinate their hos. Here ho, go to this pimp, he’ll treat you real nice. That’s how I do it.
Now imagine that you are my top pimp. You’re damn good at what you do. You take your hos out to the track on Pacific Highway South and pull in thousands of dollars every single night. I don’t know how you do it, I just know that I get my biggest cut from you, so in turn, I like you. We get along, you and I. I’m a fan of yours. You’re good to me, I’m good to you, it works.
Now let’s pretend that we just got this new chick. She’s fine. Real fine. She probably shouldn’t be doing this, but we don’t tell her that. This girl could be a model if she wanted to be. But for some reason she wants to turn tricks. So whatever, it’s cool. We can help her out. We’ll call her Brandy.
I know Brandy is gonna be our golden goose. She’ll pull in more money all by herself than most of our girls combined. She is that good. Because I like you so much, I want you to take care of her. I want you to be Brandy’s pimp. You’re gonna make more money off this girl than you can possibly imagine. And me? I’ll still just be taking my usual cut at the back end, that 10-percent I’m entitled to. That’s all I ask. You’ve been good to me, man. Consider this a gift.
Now I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, This is too good to be true. And you’re right. It is. There is no denying that. You’re getting a nicely-wrapped package from me that will financially benefit you. You’ll be wearing fur coats and driving a Maybach in no time. All I’m asking for is my cut. And you know what I plan to do with that cut? Here’s the good news, I plan to use the extra money we make off Brandy to reinvest in my pimping operation. I’m gonna go out and get more girls, scout more talent, and find you the best hos on the face of the earth. I’m gonna get rich off this. And so will you. This is unprecedented. One girl, Brandy, making all this impact on our organization.
So how does that sound? Sound like a good deal? We in this together? Here’s Brandy, you can have her. Say hi, girl. Say hi to a pimp. Alright. This is chill. I like this. I’m excited for the future. We’re gonna do big things together…
For those of you who don’t know how analogies work, here you go:
1. The committee launching this project (consisting of investor Chris Hansen, the City of Seattle, and King County) is the pimp boss.
2. The City of Seattle and King County taxpayers (i.e., you, the tax-paying constituency) are the top pimp.
3. Brandy is the proposed arena that Hansen wants to build in Seattle’s SODO district.
4. The money the pimp makes off Brandy is the revenue generated by the proposed arena. This revenue comes at no cost to the pimp, i.e. the tax-paying constituency. Consider it profit, because as we once upon a time learned in economics class, profit is revenue minus expenses. And since we, the pimp, have no expenses for this transaction, it’s ALL profit. Boom.
5. The money going to the pimp boss on the back end are the taxes generated by the proposed arena.
6. The plan to reinvest in the pimping operation is essentially the plan laid out by the City of Seattle and King County to use the tax money generated by the proposed arena to offset the initial public cost (a public cost picked up by the city and county from existing taxes, not new or additional ones) of funding the arena.
The message? This costs you nothing. NOTHING.
Financially, we, the taxpayers, are completely off the hook. This is a gift. This is a sports fan doing something great for other sports fans. Chris Hansen is paying it forward with this investment. Never forget that. He is donating — donating! — this land and the arena that will sit upon it to the City of Seattle and King County. He’s just giving it away. We will all benefit from this.
The State of Washington is a non-entity; they’re not paying for shit, yet they’ll end up pocketing some tax revenue off this endeavor. The city and county are involved in giving the A-okay, accepting the gift of the land and the arena from Hansen, and being the primary benefactor of all revenue generation from the facility.
And you? You get to sit back and watch this happen, all while knowing no money is coming out of your pocket. You aren’t paying for anything. So stop acting like it. If you think you are, then move away. If you’re paranoid, we don’t want you here. Someone is doing something great for our city: Enjoy it! You will benefit from all of this. Learn to love it.
I hope I’ve provided some education. Please pass this on to all those people who aren’t as smart as you. Thank you.
Filed under: Sonics
The NBA likes to pretend we don’t exist. That we don’t care about them and as a result they, in turn, don’t have to care about us. Seattle? Where’s Seattle? Is that a village or something? What is that?
We had our basketball team stolen from us and relocated a thousand miles away in the middle of God-knows-where. That was bad enough, certainly. But it was made worse by the fact that we were repeatedly slandered after the pillaging. That the thieves made off with our prized possession, then tried to convince the masses that we didn’t care about being hijacked. Seattle fans are apathetic, they said. Seattle fans don’t deserve our product. Seattle fans haven’t been showing up to games, or cheering for their team, or even giving a damn about what happens on the court with their Sonics. Seattle fans weren’t good enough, they claimed.
Like scorned lovers left out in the cold after a marriage gone awry, we were dragged through the muddy rhetoric of he-said-she-said. The National Basketball Association, led by commissioner David Stern, insulted our fanaticism. Forget forty-one years of history. Forget the World Championship, the passionate loyalty, and the Finals appearances. They took our team, then they ripped out our hearts and stomped on them. They embarrassed us to prove a horribly misguided point: that in this time of economic desperation, NO team and NO fan base is safe from the wrath of the NBA’s epically abysmal crap business model.
We all know by now that the NBA has been losing money. This has been going on for the better part of the past decade. Teams have been shuffled from city to city in attempts to try and salvage income for Stern’s wallet. The Sonics were simply the most recent — and arguably most glaring — of all the migrations. The Hornets left Charlotte, but an expansion franchise was granted to the vacated North Carolina metropolis seemingly minutes later. The Grizzlies departed Vancouver for Memphis, but did so just six years after playing their first game north of the border.
The Sonics, on the other hand, were entrenched in the fabric of our community. Even after ne’er-do-well owners had tried to extract our beloved Mariners and Seahawks from their SODO homes, our Sonics seemed untouchable. They were the one constant. Our first and longest-tenured major professional sports franchise.
There has been no healing process. No coping. Only a constant battle to bring back our team to its rightful place on the map. And now, closing in on four years since they were taken from us, there is significant talk that an NBA team could be returning shortly.
It all hinges on an arena. Ours wasn’t sufficient, isn’t sufficient. At least by the NBA’s standards. Last week, it was revealed that a group of local businessmen were in talks with the city to construct a state-of-the-art multi-purpose facility just south of Safeco and Century Link Fields. The venue would be used to entice both an NBA franchise and an NHL franchise into coming here. In the case of the NHL, the rumored tenant appears to be the Phoenix Coyotes, who have struggled to make a lasting footprint in the desert (shocking, I know). With the NBA, it is the Sacramento Kings, who have called California’s state capitol home for the past twenty-seven years.
Whether or not the Kings end up leaving Sacramento remains to be seen. Unfortunately, the circumstances surrounding their potential departure will be as heart-wrenching for the Kings’ fan base as it once was for ours. It hardly seems fair. Fans in every major city from here to Canada are at-risk for the same treatment we received in 2008. The league’s shaky grasp on reality and business economics would be comical if it wasn’t so damn sad. But this is the world we live in.
We may get our Sonics back or we may not. That isn’t the point, however. Win or lose, team or no team, we will never fully heal from this. Everybody remembers having their heart broken. You never love the same way the second time around. That’s what we’ll be asked to do when our team finally returns to Seattle.
We shouldn’t have been broken up with in the first place. We gave our love to that franchise and to that league and they cheated on us. They didn’t anticipate that we’d care, that we’d be so…devastated.
This is Seattle. This is a city where we escape rain nine months out of the year by finding our way into dusty gyms with hardwood flooring. Where we revel in our beautiful summer afternoons by sunning ourselves on white-lined asphalt beaches. Where we’ve produced more talented basketball stars per capita than any city in America, I’d bet money on it. Where we live and breathe hoop, live and breathe the rhythm of the dribble and the rip of the net on a jumper as pure as clean air.
We are basketball. It doesn’t make sense, I know. We’re not New York. We’re not Indiana. We’re Seattle. We’re not supposed to be a hoop hotbed. But we are. And we loved our team so freakin’ much. We loved the Sonics. They were everything to us. They were what turned us into basketball fiends. How could you take them from us? How could you act like we didn’t give a shit when they left?
The NBA underestimated us. And now they might be coming back. It will be a love-hate relationship for all-time. We’ll love our Sonics. We will love that team like they never left in the first place. But the NBA? We will always hate the NBA.
We are passionate and we will never, ever forget. Yes, we want our Sonics. Yes, we want a new arena, forty-one home games a year, the annual appeal of the playoffs, and all the amenities that come from being a major sports market. But you will never, ever meet a more furiously incensed fan base as us, as the Seattle faithful.
We are basketball. You neglected us. We’ll always hate you for it.
Now give us back our one true love.
Filed under: Sonics
The best dunker in the NBA right now…has a perm. If this were a matter of determining who the best dunker in NBA history with a perm was, then by all means Blake Griffin would win. He would edge out Paul Mokeski by a landslide. In fact, it might be a unanimous decision in Griffin’s favor. But sadly for the Clippers’ young forward, greatness is not determined by the hair upon one’s head.
If greatness were, in fact, determined by the hair upon one’s head, then Shawn Kemp would not only be the best dunker of all-time with a tilted flattop fade, but also the best dunker of all-time, period. End of story. You know he was the greatest. It goes without saying. And that fade? It was filthy. F-I-L-T-H-Y. How many people have you ever seen with a tilted flattop fade? One. Shawn F**kin’ Kemp. Nobody else has ever dared to do that with their ‘do. And if they tried? People would just laugh and call them Shawn Kemp imposters. Because Kemp was that prolific. Pro-effing-lific.
I like Blake Griffin. I do. For a guy who looks like the offspring of Cory Matthews and a Monstar, he’s pretty good. He plays a decent game. He fields lob passes nicely. He can navigate a Kia with the best Korean drivers in the world. He’s even made me a part-time Clippers fan (full-time Sonics fan, however…that will never change). But when it comes to dunking, he is the senpai to Kemp’s sensei. Bow to your sensei, Blake Griffin. Bow to him!
Shawn Kemp was a fierce dunker. Blake Griffin has some cute jams.
Shawn Kemp was a cold-blooded killer. Blake Griffin occasionally dabbles in crime.
Shawn Kemp scared grown men. Blake Griffin entertains women and small children.
You see the difference here? Kemp was a monster, a beast, a man so ferocious that he inspired his opponents to do weird, non-customary things. Like the time he threw down so hard on Golden State’s Chris Gatling, that Gatling pissed his pants, then stood up and congratulated Kemp on his homicide. Don’t believe me? Here’s the video evidence:
That was weird shit, huh? You felt weird watching that, admit it. And in all honesty, I don’t know if Gatling actually pissed his pants. I fabricated that part of the anecdote. But I bet he did. There had to be a few dribbles, at least.
In his prime, Kemp was a freak. He could do the things all of today’s dunkers can do and more. Take Dwight Howard, for instance. Kemp could slam better than Howard. And — here’s the big kicker — he could do it without all of Howard’s panty-crumpled bitchiness. “Yes, everyone, I’ll bang on this 12-foot hoop for you…right after I whine about Stan Van Gundy and demand a trade.” Okay, pretty boy.
Or what about JaVale McGee? Kemp could out-dunk JaVale McGee any day. Assuming he could find JaVale McGee. Because no one actually knows who JaVale McGee is. Forget JaVale McGee. JaVale McGee is not a real name, which means JaVale McGee is probably not even a real person. You are a figment of our imaginations, JaVale McGee.
Maybe Chase Budinger could give Kemp a run for his money. That was a bad joke, I’m sorry.
Chandler Parsons? Apologies. Followed up one bad joke with a worse joke. I’m better than this, I swear.
I don’t know. As a kid, I remember watching dunk contests that featured the likes of Jason Richardson, Stromile Swift, Jonathan Bender…the dregs of the league…and thinking to myself, This shit is stupid. I grew up paying first-hand witness to the greatest dunker of all-freakin’-time. Don’t try to give me a dunk contest, NBA. There is no contest. Shawn Kemp wins every time.
Speaking of, the NBA should really let Kemp come back and judge all the future dunk “contests.” See how that goes. “We have a 10 from Darryl Dawkins…a 10 from Spud Webb…a 10 from Julius Erving…annnnnd…waiting on the last vote still…a three from Shawn Kemp. Three? Really?” Yes, three, you idiot. Because every dunk was a three compared to the Reign Man’s dunks. Don’t even play like that. Don’t even play!
He would dunk on Blake Griffin, Taylor Griffin, the Griffin brothers’ mommy and daddy, their aunts and uncles, their grandmamas and grandpapas, cousins, babies, pets, you name it. Shawn Kemp would dunk on the moon, dunk on a Martian, dunk on Tim Tebow, dunk on Obama, dunk on all the Kias in the world, dunk on Kendrick Perkins as many times as he wanted, dunk on Fidel Castro (¡Cuidado, Fidel!), dunk on Chuck Norris, dunk on Kim Kardashian’s fine ass, dunk on Justin Bieber (oh no, not Bieber!), dunk on Bieber’s girl (Selena Gomez, for the uninformed), dunk on every man, woman, and child on this beautiful planet of ours. Shawn Kemp would dunk on Jesus Christ, Himself, if Jesus Christ was blocking the lane. Get out of the key, Lord and Savior! You will not get that charge call. Nope, not even You, Your Holiness.
The best dunker in the NBA right now has a motherf**king perm. You just…I just…HE HAS A PERM! Ridiculous. Shawn Kemp would dunk on Griffin’s perm. Because he’s better than Griffin’s perm. And he’s better than Griffin, too.
Shawn Kemp, hands down, is the best dunker the world has ever seen.
Filed under: Sonics
Why don’t we care about the lockout? It seems like we should, right? Wrong. There are just so many reasons why we shouldn’t. And I’m here to give you all of them.
In no particular order, here we go.
There are no heroes
Back in 1998, when the NBA endured their most recent lockout, the league was heavily populated by big-name attractions. Veterans like Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, and John Stockton were entering the twilights of their careers; budding stars like Allen Iverson, Kobe Bryant, and Kevin Garnett were on the rise; and future Hall of Famers like Jason Kidd, Shaquille O’Neal, and Vin Baker were in their respective primes. Just kidding about Baker. The only prime he enjoyed was at the nearest Ruth’s Chris.
Then, of course, there was Michael Jordan. Though Jordan was just settling into his second retirement, fans were still reminiscing about his exploits in the ’98 NBA Finals (including the now-infamous Bryon Russell step-back, push-off, whatever you want to call it). While MJ was technically out of basketball, his performance the season prior — and, naturally, throughout his career — left an indelible mark on the game that had fans longing for a product they simply could not live without.
Fast forward to 2011 and the landscape has changed entirely.
Instead of superstars, the present-day version of the NBA is saturated by a number of good-not-great talents. Even the most elite names are only halfheartedly received by hoop aficianados. The LeBron Jameses, Carmelo Anthonys, and Blake Griffins of the world battle public opinion to an undying degree and similarly evoke unwarranted — and, perhaps, unfair — comparisons to the generation of ballers that came before them.
Worse yet, where Jordan was once the undeniable figurehead of an entire regime of ball, there is no Gladys Knight in the modern era to lead a league full of Pips. The “LeBron versus Kobe” debate rages incessantly because neither party possesses enough of Jordan’s qualities to warrant being christened the next Greatest of All-Time. Kobe has the championship rings, but happens to be a prick. LeBron has the raw talent, but lacks a trophy and exudes forced charisma.
Like Bonnie Tyler, the league needs a hero. Problem is, there are none to be found.
Fans lack sympathy
Forget the millionaires-versus-billionaires argument we always hear about when players square off against owners. That very point was brought up in conjunction with the recent NFL lockout, but proved inconsequential. Why? Because fans showed enough sympathy towards the players to force the owners into making concessions to start the season on time. So you can say you didn’t take sides, but the vast majority of people out there did, and they chose to side with the millionaires. You might be asking yourself why fans haven’t done the same for NBA players. Good question. There are three main reasons why not.
One, NBA owners have been dishing out ridiculous salaries to mediocre employees for far too long. In the NFL, a single piss-poor performance can have even the priciest of veterans looking for a new job. In the NBA? Not so much. Guaranteed, long-term contracts to goofy-ass bastards like Mehmet Okur (sorry to throw you under the bus like that, Mehmet) have soured the average joe in “these rough economic times,” to abuse an emerging cliche. No middle-class American wants to shell out primo dinero to watch a wealthy European stiff try to overcome his own inherent lack of athleticism. Nothing about that is fun or appealing.
Two, unlike their NFL brethren, NBA players have no “poster cause” upon which to grandstand. What is a poster cause, you ask? Well, for NFL players, it happened to be the plight of their ancestors, retirees who had incurred all sorts of physical maladies — or even perished — due to injuries sustained during their playing careers. Throughout their lockout, NFL players could trumpet this cause (and in turn promote safety and long-term care) as the foundation for their discontent. And frankly, it would take a heartless villain to remain apathetic to that. What can current NBA players cite to induce a tear or two? Scottie Pippen’s bankruptcy? Allen Iverson’s bankruptcy? Antoine Walker’s bankruptcy? Yeah, we just feel so, so bad for those guys.
Three, there’s the ever-present obvious: these guys have everything we don’t. They have the job we want, the skill we want, the cash flow we want, and perhaps most importantly, the girls we want. Nothing has changed in this regard since professional sports became big business. It’s always looming out there and will always loom out there. Your average fan rarely feels bad for the well-off jock because of human nature, otherwise known as envy. It might seem like an unfair shake for the athlete, but at least he has high-class whores and replenishable bottles of Cristal to ease the pain.
A Dark Fantasy
No, we’re not talking Kanye West. We’re talking the power of fantasy sports, something basketball simply does not have. While football — and to a lesser degree, baseball — can draw in the casual fan with rotisserie points and statistical categories, basketball cannot.
When football suspended its operations over the summer, fans were panicking not because they wouldn’t get to see the hometown eleven take the field, but because social happy hours spent on fantasy drafts with the guys were being threatened. Why does football possess such a passionate television viewership? It’s not the product on the field that matters; it’s the name on the stat sheet. Millions of Americans cite Adrian Peterson as their favorite NFL player not due to their loyalty towards the Minnesota Vikings, but rather teams of their own creation. That’s the power of fantasy.
Have you ever participated in a fantasy basketball league? It’s the most boring thing on the planet. Which is probably why no one cares to play it. If you’re the NBA, you might think you’ve peeked the scene; you haven’t.
You can get it if you really want
And you don’t even need to try, try, try that hard.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re probably aware that a litany of NBA players are barnstorming across the country, playing in showcase games in what are essentially glorified rec leagues. These traveling trunk shows have become so popular that ESPN has started broadcasting highlights from select contests on SportsCenter. While it’s great to see professionals playing for the love of the game, the product is being devalued by the pro bono handouts being given away.
Here’s the thing. If you’re like me, you could care less about the NBA. Why? The college game offers a purer rendition of basketball, while also flaunting unbridled passion from its players. The appeal of the NBA is represented in flash, pizzazz, acrobatics, and can-you-believe-that moments. A fan of the pro game can get all of that by watching Kevin Durant light up Rucker Park for 66 points, or by paying witness to a team led by LeBron James battle a squad led by Carmelo Anthony in a sizable arena.
Fact is, we’ve never seen anything like this before. The advent of the internet (go to YouTube, search “Kevin Durant,” and look at the first autofill option) has allowed these currently-unemployed hoopers to air their highlights all over the place, something that wasn’t nearly as possible back in 1998. Likewise, you’d never catch football or baseball players running exhibition pickup games during a strike or lockout. Not because they lack the passion, but simply because it’s far too difficult to organize such an event with either of those sports.
As long as NBA players keep hooping for free, owners can sit back, twiddle their thumbs, and wait for the players to fold. Fans are still getting what they want — albeit in a modified platform — at zero cost. If Costco has taught us anything, it’s that absolutely no one will protest a free sample.
A nomadic empire
Here in Seattle, we know it all too well. The pain of losing our beloved Supersonics hasn’t healed and likely never will. That said, we’re not alone. Other cities across this continent can reciprocate our feelings. Charlotte’s been through it recently. Vancouver has, too. Nets supporters will see their team relocate from Newark to Brooklyn whenever play resumes, and the Sacramento faithful managed to squeeze one more year out of their Kings before a possible relocation to Anaheim. All in all, the constant migration has left fans from coast to coast feeling scorned by a league that now employs a Relocation Committee (headed up by our dearest Clay Bennett) to deal with all the movement.
While baseball and football have encountered little in the way of seismic shift over the last few decades, basketball has struggled mightily to grasp the concept of geographic loyalty. Like a gold-digging jersey chaser, it’s all about money and always on to the next best thing with the NBA. That’s no recipe for success, and has subsequently kept enough big-ticket regional markets rooting for this lockout to never end.
An evil emperor
Sitting atop the NBA’s steaming pile of crap business model is none other than David Joel Stern, commissioner of the Association since 1984. Over the course of his twenty-seven year administration, the league has experienced its ups and downs, with perhaps no down as lowly as this one. It hasn’t been all bad for Stern, though. During his tenure, the NBA has enjoyed its most profitable and successful years. Unfortunately, those successes have inflated Stern’s ego to the point where he’s currently incapable of making rational decisions for the good of his product.
In his glory years, the 69-year-old attorney was a deferent leader content taking a back seat to the drivers (Jordan, et al) of his billion-dollar vehicle. As more and more of those spotlight-dwellers began to ride off into the sunset, however, Stern assumed greater control over the image of his league.
These days, the face of the NBA isn’t throwing down tomahawks or knocking down jumpers. The face of the NBA, as it turns out, is a senior citizen with a degree from Columbia Law School. And that’s not a good thing.
As his role has changed, so has David Stern — and not for the better. What Stern has devolved into is a pompous, senile, media-hungry, out-of-touch dictator who cares little about his employees and demands total subordination from everyone beneath him. He tells his ball players what to wear and how to behave, then empowers his minions, in the form of officials and fine-distributors, to punish anyone who refuses to conform. No one says players have to get along with their commissioner, but there certainly wasn’t this much friction when things were going well for the league back in the Roaring Nineties.
At the same time, Stern has done little to engage the people paying his salary: the fans. Shuffling teams from city to city is one thing, but the constant maneuvering of franchises stems from a larger issue: arenas. Stern has demanded that arena owners (in many cases, those venue proprietors are municipal governments) kowtow to his plan for the bigger, larger, and more luxurious. Again, to refer back to a bad cliche, this is much easier said than done in “these rough economic times.” Civic organizations cannot afford to shell out tax dollars to pay for multi-million dollar projects like the ones Stern is asking for. And furthermore, why should they? NBA teams aren’t making money like they used to. It’s a bad product. And that falls directly at the feet of Stern, who’s overseeing this entire operation.
Additionally, what kind of message does it send to Joe the Fan when the Sheriff of Nottingham comes collecting taxes from the already-stretched people of Sherwood Forest? Stern wants your money, but he intends to spend it on the wealthy. His vision of an arena includes dozens upon dozens of suites and skyboxes, where wealthy businessmen can congregate and drop change into his waiting pocket. Families? They’re irrelevant. Kids? They don’t matter. Stern is targeting the rich and poaching from the middle-class. If you happen to buy into his plan and shell out a week’s salary to take in a game with your children, all the more power to the NBA’s Napoleon.
Since the lockout began over the summer, Stern hasn’t done anything to better his image with the American public. Instead of working to resolve the issues between two distant parties, the angry little man has done just the opposite, spouting off to the media and seemingly threatening the players to concede to the owners’ stipulations. To borrow from Nike, Stern might as well be touting a “Just Do It…Or Else” slogan on his t-shirt each day.
We don’t really know who David Stern is as a person, but in recent years he’s gone from an enigma we didn’t care all that much about to a guy who comes across as a total jerk. Among all the other problems facing the National Basketball Association right now, Stern is irrefutably the most glaring. Until his monarchy collapses, labor disputes — and in turn, fan apathy — will continue to reign supreme.
Filed under: Featured Articles, NBA
If you’ve ever been to Wal-Mart, you’ve undoubtedly seen the divorced fat woman with eight screaming children, beating the hell out of those poor kids as if she can pummel the sound right out of them, wondering why on earth the world has done this to her.
To say she doesn’t quite get it would be an understatement. Never mind the fact that in her younger days she made some bad decisions — sleeping with every guy bearing a snake tattoo, for one. Even those missteps could not fully explain why God would curse her with an octet of banshees, each conceived from the sperm of a different man. I mean, we all make mistakes. Uneducated, morbidly obese, socially inept female degenerates are no exception.
And then we have LeBron James.
Such a privileged life James leads. He has earned and continues to earn more money than most of us could ever imagine. He plays a game for a living. He is surrounded by luxury everywhere he goes.
Children emulate him. Men envy him. Women want to open their legs to him. Everybody, it seems, could enjoy the lifestyle of the one they call The King.
Except, perhaps, his highness, himself.
LeBron may very well be as clueless as our corpulent Wal-Mart divorcee. The guy just doesn’t get it. At all. And as a result, he might live the unhappiest of charmed lives this side of any of the Real Housewives women.
The man has skin no thicker than rice paper. He seems more unsure of himself than a pubescent teenager. When faced with adversity, the 26-year-old forward crumbles like the Berlin wall.
On top of all that, he lacks the traits of a real man.
James rarely takes public ownership over his own mistakes. He pouts, he whines, he points fingers. He seemingly can’t comprehend why people don’t like him. Perhaps, Lebron, it’s because you simply aren’t likable.
Only the pettiest of individuals would bring God into the equation when offering an opinion on something as trivial as the loss of a game. As if God truly had a vested interest in what THE LEBRON JAMES was doing on the evening of Sunday, June 12, 2011. Heaven forbid the “Greater Man upstairs” worry about anything but THE LEBRON JAMES. This is THE LEBRON JAMES after all. THE LEBRON JAMES is arguably one of God’s most treasured creations, if not the most treasured creation. It all makes perfect sense. Don’t blame THE LEBRON JAMES for this loss, Heat fans. Blame God. It’s God’s fault. Not LeBron’s.
No, LeBron simply lacks the social awareness to a) make good decisions, b) remove himself at any time from the spotlight, and c) stop screwing his reputation over and over again.
And therein lies the problem.
In spite of all his athletic ability, LeBron comes across to many sports fans as an aloof fraud desperately in need of acceptance. Unfortunately for him, no one’s accepting of the LeBron James persona for any number of reasons, none more so than a patronizing attitude replete with an air of fabricated humility.
It’s that lack of human perception that separates the King from the rest of us. And that’s not even taking into account the lack of a killer instinct he possesses on the basketball court, the absence of any passionate will to succeed at his profession. Because there’s that, too. Lest we forget.
On the surface, he seems to have it all. Underneath, however, we find a complicated mess.
His grasp on reality is as shaky as it comes. His quest for a trophy has come up short yet again. He possesses everything, and yet he has nothing.
Why would God do this to him?
Poor LeBron James. Poor, poor LeBron James.
Filed under: NBA
As you already know, we need a professional basketball team in this city. Ours was stolen from us like a pair of kicks from Foot Locker. This is where you come in.
Now as you may have heard, the NBA is seizing the New Orleans Hornets franchise, as their owner is basically a delinquent malcontent (okay, malcontent is a little strong of a word, but you get the point). The league is more or less foreclosing on the organization, looking to flip it at a discounted rate to the highest bidder. Being one of the richest men in the world, you’re as ideal a candidate as any to own this basketball team.
Of course, there’s the matter of an arena. I actually feel kind of bad asking this of you, but do you think you could go ahead and foot the bill for a state-of-the-art venue in the Greater Seattle area? Because that’s what it will really take to land the Hornets here in the Emerald City. The cost of the team is petty cash. It’s the new multi-purpose facility that will really set you back.
I’ve employed a very simple three-step plan to help you (and in turn me) get an NBA team here in our own backyard. Take a gander at the following:
Step 1: Let it be known that you are a serious contender to purchase the New Orleans franchise. Assemble a team of rich businessmen to secure your interest in this venture.
Step 2: Come up with hundreds of millions of dollars to fund the future home of the new Seattle Supersonics. This sounds outrageous, but you just liquidated $2 billion worth of Microsoft stock in November. That’s a ton of money that’s just sitting around the house. You might as well do something with it, right?
Step 3: Having pledged to build a new arena, and having denoted your interest in owning an NBA ballclub, seal the deal by writing a check to the National Basketball Association for the rights to bring the Hornets to Seattle. This one is a tough pill to swallow. I know how you feel. The NBA doesn’t deserve your money. The NBA doesn’t deserve any of our money. I even feel guilty when I buy a Sonics t-shirt these days. I know where my hard-earned cash is going: David Stern’s pocket. Even if I am reppin’ the Supes, I have a tough time justifying such a purchase.
That said, now is the time. This is our absolute best chance to get the Sonics back. The NBA is closer to contraction than it is to expansion, so the odds of us getting a brand new start-up organization are slim to none. And slim just left the building. We need to capitalize on this moment and bring back the green-and-gold.
All of this is much easier said than done, of course. Personally, I wouldn’t blame you one bit if you took a pass on this investment. Because let’s face it, the NBA flat isn’t making money right now. It’s like buying a car. As soon as you drive it off the lot, you’ve lost more than a few pennies. And that’s what it’s like to be an owner in David Stern’s League of Injustice these days.
Fact is, you’ll probably lose some money in the first few years of your reign of ownership. Especially if the new Supes have to call Key Arena home while their new facility is being erected. So from that standpoint, I can’t fault you for turning your back and saying, “No, thanks.”
But let’s envision the future for a minute. Once that brand new arena is fully operational, you’ll reap the benefits of your erection (heh). With the area’s biggest, brightest, baddest (and by “bad” I mean good) home for concerts and sporting events, you’ll be taking home cushy paychecks on an everyday basis.
And that’s not all. Think of the standing you’ll have in the community. You could be the anti-Howard Schultz. A hero. A savior. A saint. You’ll never have to buy your own drink in this town again. Heck, I make in one year what you likely earn in a day. And I will buy you a beer if I run into you. I have absolutely no qualms about that. You bring us the Sonics and you’re a legend in Seattle from now until eternity. They’ll probably build statues in your honor. Or at least write about you on a frequent basis, as I plan to.
Steve, we need you now more than we’ve ever needed you before. This is your movie moment. Your chance to be the knight in shining armor. Your opportunity to be our Superman. Please, from the bottom of my heart, don’t pass this up. Bring back our Seattle Supersonics.
Filed under: Sonics
*Possibly with a little help from my friend Photoshop. Possibly.
Filed under: NBA