The Take: Sonics Will Be Leaving Seattle-And Soon
Forget the great legacy of the Seattle Supersonics … Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp … Xavier McDaniel and Jack Sikma … the 1978 NBA Title … Today, the new owner of the Seattle Supersonics fired Coach Bob Hill and GM Rick Sund. These changes are the start of something bigger-the Sonics leaving Seattle for Oklahoma City. Weigh in on whether the Sonics should move.
The have started making changes. Today, they fired Coach Bob Hill and GM Rick Sund after posting a disappointing 31-51 record.
But Hill and Sund are just the beginning. Bigger changes are on the horizon for this franchise. I think the Sonics will soon be gone, leaving the Emerald City forever. Their legacy erased.
No more 1978 NBA Title. No more Downtown Freddie Brown. No more Xavier McDaniel. No more Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp. Forget it. The green-and-gold are done.
After all, Seattle-area politicians once again rejected the team’s request for public funding to help finance and build a new arena.
Clay Bennett, the club’s new owner, is from Oklahoma City. His hometown has a shiny new arena and a legion of dedicated NBA fans after hosting the relocated Hornets for two years.
After a two year sample, Oklahoma City is hungry for more NBA basketball. Seattle politicians have had enough. It’s a natural swap.
What a terrible turn for this once mighty franchise. I remember January 1992, Sonics versus Heat. This was the first NBA game I ever saw live.
Seattle was one of the NBA’s glamor teams. ’s glove smothered opposing 1-guards. Shawn Kemp, before the weight-gain, drugs, and babies, was an old school version of , holding down the low block with spectacular jams. And Coach George Karl was perched on the sideline, flashing that same perma-smirk you see today.
They posted 60 win seasons on the regular. They embarrassed opponents. And they held their own against the 1996 Bulls in the NBA Finals.
But things soured. Jim Mcilvaine’s absurd contract eventually led to Kemp demanding a trade. The Sonics dealt their Reign Man and ended up with forward Vin Baker.
This trade marked the end of Seattle’s dynasty. Baker was a bust. His play, and personal life, was up-and-down. Karl was fired as coach; Paul Westphal was brought in as the sideline boss, but only for a minute.
Changes were occurring off the court, too. Howard Schultz, of Starbuck’s fame, bought the team. Schultz had huge expectations, thinking he could apply the same business principals from his coffee chain directly to the NBA.
No dice. The new owner got into a public dispute with Gary Payton, the Sonics one remaining superstar. And ‘The Glove’ was soon dealt to Milwaukee for Ray Allen.
But ‘The Glove’ wasn’t Schultz’s biggest problem. Not even close. That was the stadium. As tenants-only in Key Arena, the Sonics couldn’t generate enough revenue to break even. In fact, they were losing money, big money. Minority owners were regularly called upon to inject cash.
A lack of finances killed the on-court product, too. After a decent 2005 season, the Sonics lacked the cash to re-sign and Coach Nate McMillian.
Fans grew tired of their team’s woos, while Schulz grew tired of battling politicians for a new arena. He sold the Sonics to Bennett’s Oklahoma City group.
Today’s news is just the start of something bigger. Without a new arena, the Sonics will become a lame duck franchise. And Oklahoma City is waiting. What a terrible way for this once proud franchise to leave Seattle.
What was the score between the Sonics and Heat in January of 1992? I don’t remember. But it forever hooked this kid on hoops.
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