Remember the days Shawn Kemp used to dunk all over everyone and everything? What about the countless times Gary Payton terrorized opposing guards on defense? How about when prime Ray Allen dropped a career-high 54 points against the Utah Jazz? Did you forget Kevin Durant won NBA Rookie of the Year in the green and gold?
For anyone who has been to the City of Seattle, or at least understands the city’s rich sports history, knows basketball is king. From the Metro League to the Washington Huskies to the Seattle SuperSonics, there wasn’t many better places to watch hoops than the Emerald City once upon a time.
In many ways, that is still true today, but when the Sonics left Seattle in 2008 to become the Oklahoma City Thunder — taking future superstars like Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden with them — it completely broke the city’s heart, and it hasn’t been the same since.
Sure, the rain will always fall, the Seahawks will pack CenturyLink Field, and Starbucks will still sell pumpkin spice coffee in the fall, but no NBA team in Seattle is the saddest peanut butter sandwich without any jelly.
Seattle Supersonics History
From 1967 to 2008, the Seattle Center Coliseum, the Kingdome, and KeyArena, housed some of the greatest players and memories in NBA history. Lenny Wilkins, Spencer Haywood, Fred Brown, Gus Williams, Jack Sikma and Nate McMillan all had their jerseys retired.
There’s no doubt Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp would be up in the rafters alongside those players and legendary broadcaster Bob Blackburn, too. Rashard Lewis, Dale Ellis, Xavier McDaniel, Tom Chambers, Ray Allen, Detlef Schrempf, Vin Baker and Sam Perkins, among many others, were all damn good former Sonics as well.
With the 1979 NBA championship and three more Western Conference titles, it’s safe to say Clay Bennett, the chairman of Professional Basketball Club LLC really messed up when they took over ownership from Basketball Club of Seattle’s Howard Schultz and moved to OKC.
Everything the ownership group of Sam Schulman and Barry Ackerley helped build, from hiring legendary coaches to securing Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame players to magical playoff runs, was turned into ancient history in the snap of a finger.
The Supersonics never had the brand recognition like the Los Angeles Lakers or Chicago Bulls back in the day, or what the Golden State Warriors built in the last decade.
That doesn’t really matter, though. Sonics fans were phenomenal because they loved the game. Just ask the WNBA’s Seattle Storm how loyal they can be.
Expansion can be beautiful thing, and it has been for the NBA. Adding the Charlotte Hornets, Miami Heat, Minnesota Timberwolves, and Orlando Magic in the late 1980s proves that. So did adding the Toronto Raptors and Vancouver Grizzlies — now the Memphis Grizzlies — in the mid-1990s and the New Orleans Pelicans in 2013.
If NBA commissioner Adam Silver wants to add a new team and a great market for ESPN games, there needs to be a hard look at Seattle before anywhere else.
Could the NBA Return to Seattle?
So, why is this being brought up again? Well, not only is it always relevant for Seattle to fight for its basketball team back — much like Chris Hansen and his investment group did years ago — but, in December 2018, Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver threatened to move the franchise to either Seattle or Las Vegas because the negotiations for arena renovations in Arizona had stalled.
Talking Stick Resort Arena in downtown Phoenix needs some improvements. Considering nothing has been done to the arena since 2003, significant funds were needed for it. If the Phoenix City Council didn’t help make this arena deal happen, then Sarver was going to shop a new location, according to the azcentral.com.
He wouldn’t have needed to shop long. Despite recent success of the NHL’s Las Vegas Golden Knights, and the pending move of the NFL’s Oakland Raiders to Sin City, there was really only one place to go: Seattle.
This won’t be happening, of course, because an “enhanced experience” is on the way for the Suns. Perhaps this was all a threat to get the needed funds to stay in Phoenix or get an entire new arena like the Sacramento Kings did. Maybe it’s all just a pipe dream for Seattle to get the SuperSonics back or even receive an expansion team.
It doesn’t change the fact the Emerald City needs and deserves to have a NBA franchise return home.
That’s why the Sonics Arena investment group is working so hard. They know it, and a new SoDo Arena would be perfect for the Sonics and an NHL team, too.
The Seattle Supersonics joined the NBA just after Chicago Bulls and alongside the now-Houston Rockets. They were ahead of the Milwaukee Bucks, Los Angeles Clippers, Portland Trail Blazers, Dallas Mavericks and the now-Brooklyn Nets in New York.
Needless to say, the history is there, and it needs to happen sooner rather than later.
This post was originally published on December 12, 2018 before updating.