A Stolen Team And A Strong City – The Emerald City’s Tribulations (Part I)

Four years ago the The Coffee Capital of the World endured one of it’s darkest years and it was not only due to the fact that it tends to rain there almost every single day, but it was because a chunk of pride and history has been forcefully, without regret, taken out of the city’s hand. It’s ironic that I used the nickname, “The Coffee Capitol of the World” among all of the city’s nicknames because one of the most hated men in the city itself, Howard Schultz, owns the world famous coffee chain Starbucks and sold the Sonics in 2006 to the man that would eventually hurt, degrade, and betray the city and the loyal fans of the Seattle Supersonics. After multiple rumors,criticisms, rallies, pleads and mostly mumbo jumbo from the courthouse to the press conference from 2007 to 2008, the Sonics would end up never playing in Seattle ever again. It was in April of 2008 that Sonics-franchise owner and Oklahoma City native and businessman Clayton “Clay” Ike Bennett decided to move the franchise somewhere far away from the state of Washington and all the way down to his home town. With no arena, no political support, no David Stern full-support, and with Bennett himself possibly purposely not trying his best to let the franchise stay in Seattle, The Rainy City and it’s diverse and supportive locals were certainly heart broken. It was like a man (Sonics fans and the city itself) who has just been left at the altar as another man (Bennett), who had more power, took away his bride (Supersonics). However, Bennett wasn’t only granted to take the team and it’s players in 2008, he also got a little more which made Sonics fans ever angrier at the events taking place before their eyes.

Not only did Bennett and the Oklahoma City take the NBA players the Sonics had in the previous season such as Nick Collison and future-NBA-superstar Kevin Durant, but also it’s pride and history. From it’s banners, trophies, awards, and simply it’s memorabilia, since the Supersonics entered the NBA in 1967, to which that all Seattleites took pride and joy  in themselves every time they look at what their beloved basketball team has accomplished in four, unforgettable, decades. Yes,  four decades. Other NBA franchises that have relocated didn’t stay in one city as long as the Sonics stayed in Seattle. People in Vancouver, who don’t have an NBA team right now might have even forgotten about the Memphis Grizzlies by now. Although the Minneapolis Lakers may be able to top the Sonics because they won 5 NBA championships there back in the 1950’s, but since the state of Minnesota has received a new NBA team in the Timberwolves and also since it was about 60 years ago, there’s no rally that is really needed. Four years later after the Supersonics renamed themselves to the Thunder and started playing in the ruckus former-Ford Center-now-Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, we see the franchise competing in the 2012 NBA Finals. The NBA Finals has been a place where the city of Seattle and it’s locals have been waiting and cheering so loudly and proudly in hope of  their NBA team reaching there while they were still playing in Key Arena.

Key Arena, formerly known as Seattle Center Coliseum, was the home of the Seattle Supersonics. However, the arena itself proved to be one of the biggest reasons as to why the Sonics would eventually relocate to a bigger and better basketball facility in Ford Center, now-Chesapeake Energy Arena located in downtown Oklahoma City. Through 33 exciting NBA seasons, the Supersonics played at the Key Arena for most of their stay in the Emerald City. But it actually wasn’t in Key Arena that the Sonics would win their first and only NBA championship. The Sonics would play in the Kingdome for 7 seasons from 1978 to 1985 where they would win the city’s first professional sports championship in 1979. Led by a powerful backcourt tandem of Gus Williams and a man most people tend to forget where he got his first success, Finals MVP Dennis Johnson, who is more famous in the present for playing with Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics in the 1980’s, the Sonics dominated the 1979 NBA Finals against the Washington Bullets. In the previous NBA Finals, the Sonics fell in a hard fought 7 game series against the Bullets and would eventually lose the opportunity in winning the city’s first professional sports championship. However, the Sonics quickly bounced back and gave the loyal fans of Seattle something to be proud about. In the mid 1980’s, the Sonics would return to play at the Key Arena, but the successes of the late 1970’s were far behind them as the team would no longer pose as a huge threat in the NBA playoffs with the Lakers, Celtics, and Pistons dominating most of the 1980’s. As the 80’s folded and the new decade,which would soon be known as “Jordan’s Era”, would open, the Sonics would make two addtions that would give Sonics fans something to cheer about. And a little bit down the road in 2008 to the present, these two guys would play big roles in helping the fans in Seattle get an NBA team back and mostly their pride back mainly because they themselves have been robbed as well.

In 1989 the Sonics would draft forward Shawn Kemp from Trinity Valley and in the following season they would acquire loud-mouth point guard Gary Payton. However, the two key players weren’t able to lead the team back into playoff success. In 1992, George Karl would get his first stint as an NBA head coach after 4 year’s of absence in the NBA. Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp would then be able to grow together under the leadership and training of George Karl who made sure that these two guys would have to work together in order to become the driving force of the Sonics. However, after making taking Charles Barkley and the Phoenix Suns to 7 games in George Karl’s first season, the Sonics would fall out of the playoffs in the 1st round in the following 2 seasons, and didn’t capitalize on winning an NBA championship with Michael Jordan busy playing baseball.In the 1995-1996 NBA season, the franchise would have the best regular season even until today when they are now playing in Oklahoma City. The Sonics finished with a 63-19 record and would make their way into the NBA Finals led by none other than The Glove, Gary Payton for his Houdini-like passes and The Reign Man, for his dominance inside the paint. Unfortunately on the other side of the 1996 NBA Finals was a team better than them, way better. How?! Who can top 63 wins? Well … with Michael Jordan back with the Chicago Bulls after 2 seasons of playing a sport he should have never played, the Bulls finished with a record-breaking 72-10 record. I tell you, the Sonics should have capitalized in those two seasons when Mr. Jordan was out. And so the only reaction they most people gave to the ’96 Bulls was “yikes”. Through the first three games of the series, the Bulls showed the Sonics and it’s fans how they won 72 games by dominating each game and taking a commanding 3-0 series lead. With a possible sweep and elimination on their home floor at Key Arena, the Sonics, especially Payton and Kemp, needed some sort of boost to help them withstand the force of Jordan and Pippen. And the Sonics would find that source of inspiration in Game 4 at Key Arena. This source of inspiration would eventually be the main/biggest cause as to why even after 4 years of no Supersonics playing in Seattle, the city is still fighting hard for something they truly deserve.

Here is Part II of the article “A Stolen Team And A Strong City – The Emerald City’s Tribulations”

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2 thoughts on “A Stolen Team And A Strong City – The Emerald City’s Tribulations (Part I)

  1. Pingback: A Stolen Team And A Strong City – The Emerald City’s Tribulations (Part II) | THEONBA

  2. Pingback: Compilation: A Stolen Team And A Strong City – The Emerald City’s Tribulations | THEONBA

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