Time is supposed to heal all wounds. But there are some cases where the wound is too deep, too painful, to simply wait for it to get better.
Such is the case with the Seattle SuperSonics. In the interest of full disclosure, I am neither a Seattle native nor a Sonics fan. However, I know the agony that accompanies the possibility of losing a team. While my beloved Athletics are still playing their baseball in Oakland, that is likely to change in the near future, and I will not react well when the bell tolls for the team’s time by the Bay.
I never lived in Seattle during the time of the Sonics. But the profound impact the team had in this city is still clear to me on a daily basis.
Walking around the U-District and campus, I see at least one person wearing Sonics gear every day. This is a team that moved away more than three years ago. However, it is clearly a team and brand that is still loved all around the city. It depresses me to think about how perfect Seattle is for the team, and that the city would be watching a championship contender if the Sonics hadn’t been taken so unjustly.
Which is exactly what makes watching this year’s NBA playoffs so disheartening. Last night, the Oklahoma City Thunder destroyed the Los Angeles Lakers in game one of the Western Conference semifinals. Destroyed might not even be a strong enough word. Annihilated. The ex-Sonics won by 29. They are one of the best and most exciting teams in basketball right now. And they should still be playing in Seattle.
Imagine if, in 2006, the Washington state government had approved a renovation of Key Arena, thereby keeping the NBA happy and the Sonics in Seattle. If you assume the next few years would have worked out the same way that they did for the Thunder, then Seattle would be home to a team that everyone would be watching.
Kevin Durant would be raining threes as often as it actually rains. Russell Westbrook would be thriving in a city that would embrace him wholeheartedly. Other young stars like James Harden and Serge Ibaka would be treated like folk heroes.
This is a great basketball town. Seattle should be a part of the NBA. Clay Bennett robbed an entire city blind, something that very few people can ever say they have done. Oklahoma City is loving the Thunder, and nobody can blame the fans for accepting what fell into their laps.
But what people do need to understand is that everything good that happens to the Thunder hurts Sonics fans. Every game is painful. Every win is cruel, every series awful, and an NBA championship would be downright torture. I see it on basketball fans’ faces all over the place, and it hurts.
I will never try to tell anyone to get over the Sonics. I could never tell a city that lost one of its prized possessions to move on, because they shouldn’t be moving on. Seattle should still have an NBA team. The fact that it doesn’t is criminal.
The worst thing about all of this is how good the Thunder are. They could win the NBA title. And that title would depress Seattle.
Sometimes, pain doesn’t go away. In this case, over time, it’s only getting worse.
Reach sports columnist Daniel Rubens at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @drubens12
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