The Seattle SuperSonics may make their triumphant return to the Emerald City as early as the 2013-14 season.
As reported by Adrian Wojnarowski, a deal appears to finally be done after reports of an impending sale broke in early January. Wojnarowski tweets:
With sale finalized, NBA's Relocation Committee will approve Kings move to Seattle for next season, sources tell Y! "Formality," source says— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) January 21, 2013
Is Seattle excited about this news? I can’t speak for the whole city, but I have to imagine that plenty of fans are thrilled at the prospect of getting the team back.
After all, the team left under, shall we say, frustrating circumstances.
Still, is there a little bit of guilt associated with this transaction? After all, the dedicated fans of Sacramento are about to lose their only professional sports franchise.
That kind of loss cannot feel good. Seattle fans can feel some of Sacramento’s pain.
I think Sherman Alexie said it very well in his recent tweet:
Dear Seattle, don't celebrate the NBA for giving us the Kings in the same way they took the Sonics.— Sherman Alexie (@Sherman_Alexie) January 10, 2013
For many fans, a sports team is more than a form of entertainment. A beloved team is part of the community framework, and fans have been fiercely loyal to their franchises for as long as there have been sports.
I grew up in the Seattle area, idolizing players such as Jack Sikma, Gus Williams and “Downtown Freddie” Brown. These stars gave way to players like Tom Chambers and Xavier McDaniel. In the 1990s, I had a great time watching Gary Payton throw lobs to Shawn Kemp for eye-popping dunks.
Needless to say, the 1978-79 NBA Championship is still one of the highlights of my life as a sports fan.
As longtime Seattle fans can imagine, the first-round loss to the Denver Nuggets in 1994 was definitively a low point.
When the Sonics went east, I ceased to be a fan of the team. It has been bittersweet to watch the Oklahoma City Thunder succeed since players like Kevin Durant and Nick Collison played for Seattle.
However, my loyalties will always lie with the green and gold.
Fans of other teams have suggested that I should transfer my loyalties to the blue, orange and yellow.
Nope. Won’t do it. Can’t do it.
As Charles Barkley said, you can't take the stats from another city. Nor will I try to be a part of another franchise's future. If the Kings come to Seattle, the history of that club should stay in Sacramento. Or Kansas City. Cincinnati? Rochester?
The departure of the Sonics will always be a dark chapter in Seattle sports history. Obviously Clay Bennett is not the first owner to take a team away from a loyal fanbase. Nor will he likely be the last.
Still, I suspect that Bennett will always be on the villain list in Seattle.
There were certainly a lot of elements to the team’s relocation, and they do not need to be rehashed at this point. Again, I cannot speak for all of Seattle, but I think it is safe to suggest that the fans felt “robbed."
The locals know that shirts with that exact word (via The Seattle P-I) are still on sale in Seattle-area stores.
Is all forgiven now that there are strong signs pointing to a SuperSonics return? I wouldn’t say that.
As a fan, I will always feel like Bennett did not act in good faith.
But, that is in the past and it appears that the sale will get approved. Good news does help some of the bad times fade away. I have to assume that Seattle can now start to move on and begin enjoying basketball again if the Kings do end up heading north.
As mentioned, I do feel bad for the fans of Sacramento. When Chris Hansen originally came forward and started working on plans for a new arena, I had a feeling that this type of situation might happen.
There were few franchises at the time that were in a position to move.
The economic situation of the NBA was such that expansion seemed unlikely, and that does not seem to have changed very much. Hansen and his group were unlikely to get a franchise without obtaining one from another city.
Granted, the circumstances will be different if the Kings move to Seattle. There are fans in Seattle who will always see elements of theft in the Clay Bennett situation. This business deal fits the model of a standard relocation, which has happened many times before.
There has been some interesting reaction to the story, including this recent tweet from Arash Markazi of ESPN:
Sacramento was never going to win with broke owners looking for the biggest payday and a commissioner looking to right a wrong in Seattle.— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) January 9, 2013
I expect the fans in Sacramento to be frustrated, and they have every right to be. However, they shouldn’t be upset with Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer.
If fans are mad at anyone, it should be the city of Sacramento or the Maloof family. In theory, the Maloofs had an opportunity to work out a deal on a new arena in Sactown. That opportunity appears to have passed.
Still, as noted by Yahoo! Sports, Sacramento will fight on. Former NBA star and current mayor Kevin Johnson has been trying to find a local owner that will keep the team in town. At this point, his efforts may be a little too late.
Now that the deal appears finished, there is already speculation on potential leadership.
Y! Sources: To overhaul Kings organization, new Seattle group has discussed targeting Spurs' R.C. Buford, Larry Bird. tinyurl.com/alaqrqr— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) January 21, 2013
Larry Bird? I never thought I would hear his name associated with the Sonics.
Before the new ownership can start hiring executives, they need to get the deal approved. Seattle fans will obviously stay tuned. The Sonics are (or appear to be) one step closer to a Key Arena return.
Exciting...assuming you are a fan of the Seattle SuperSonics. A sad day for the city of Sacramento.