Why the NBA needs to bring a team back to Seattle.
In the wide world of sports, the city of Seattle is known for their strong fan base and loyalty towards their respective franchises. In the basketball world, you instantly think of one thing: The Supersonics.
Loyal fan base. Sports city. Homegrown NBA talent. Sounds like a no-brainer to bring the team back, right? Easier said than done, I suppose.
Approaching the nine-year mark of the last game played in Key Arena, home of the Seattle Supersonics, fans across the country, especially in Western Washington, understand the Sonics’ place in the NBA.
For 41 years, the Sonics were one of the most successful teams in the NBA, toting a .524% all- time winning percentage. In their 22 playoff appearances, the Sonics reached the NBA Finals three times, winning once in 1979. Although last active in 2008, the franchise has more Finals appearances than 15 current teams. The Seattle Supersonics have also been to the playoffs (2005) more recently than the Minnesota Timberwolves, last appearing in the postseason in 2004. In 2010, the formerly New Jersey Nets were 31st in merchandise sales out of the 30 active teams in the NBA. The Supersonics had more sales while no longer existing.
After failing to find funding to build a new arena, the organization moved to Oklahoma City before the 2008–09 season and the rest is history. Few people link Oklahoma City and Seattle by franchise statistics but Sonics fans don’t and shouldn’t want any part of the Thunder organization. OKC created a brand-new identity and hit the ground running early on, placing themselves in the top three in wins since their inaugural season. The general population should consider the Thunder and Supersonics as two different franchises.
After a near decade, why should any of this matter? Why should this team return to the NBA? For the average basketball fan, the Supersonics provide a feeling of nostalgia, like hearing your favorite song from way back when. Memories flood through your brain as you picture an exact point in time where nothing could go wrong. For Seattle, the Supersonics are indebted to the people of the city forever. Seattleites can tell you how fun it was to watch the Sonics of the 1990’s, led by Gary Payton who never backed down from anybody; or maybe show you a poster they still have from a thunderous (no pun intended) Shawn Kemp jam. An older crowd could tell you about how they witnessed Jack Sikma first suit up with the team or where they were Friday, June 1st, 1979, when their team won the NBA Finals. It was the first modern day major professional sports franchise to come to the city. Sporting events have always had an uncanny way of bringing people together. Whether it’s family bonding or a high-five with the person at the game sitting next to you, these moments turn into lasting memories that only a fan could understand. The culture and foundation that the Supersonics established during the team’s tenure gave their city an identity, which led to bringing more professional sports franchises to Seattle over time.
Even though the Supersonics no longer exist as a franchise, that hasn’t affected the game’s place in the city of Seattle. While there are many notable cities that breed NBA players such as Los Angeles, Chicago, and the DMV area to name a few, Seattle has the closest group of players in the league and have built a true connection with each other. Guys like Isaiah Thomas, Nate Robinson, Brandon Roy, Spencer Hawes, Jason Terry, and Jamal Crawford, who has become the unofficial ambassador for this collective, are players that have established a bond with their city and give back as much as they can. Doing so has paved the way for a younger crew, notably Avery Bradley, Zach Lavine, and Dejounte Murray, to dream big and believe that becoming an NBA player was possible. At age 36, Crawford, still one of the league’s most exciting and transcending players, is known to show up anywhere there’s a pickup game in his city. He’s become a regular in the Seattle Pro Am, an amateur summer league with Seattle’s best hoopers from a wide variety of ages; including pros. As one of the elder statesmen of NBA Seattleites, the perennial sixth man of the year candidate made it a duty to keep the family close and support his native Seattle guys in any way possible.
While their city’s team may be gone, Jamal Crawford and company have made sure that the passion for the game hasn’t left their hometown. For what the game of basketball has done for the city of Seattle and vice versa, it would be very unfortunate if the Supersonics franchise never came back to the NBA. While there has been talk of league expansion recently, there’s been no guarantee that the league would choose Seattle as the city to have a team. Also, there are still quite some steps that the city itself would have to complete before anything could happen.
For now, let’s hope that both ends do their part in bringing this team back.