RIP Seattle Supersonics

This is literally the worst day in Seattle sports history.  If you haven’t heard, the City of Seattle and the ownership group for the Seattle Supersonics NBA franchise agreed to terms yesterday that released the team from the last 2 years of its lease at Key Arena, effectively ending 41 years of storied tradition the Supes built in my city.  If you want all the gory details, hit ESPN.  If you want to see the carnage as it was unfolding, read this brilliant Bill Simmons piece.

I could write a book on this travesty, but here’s the Cliff Notes version.  The head of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, bought the Sonics in 2001 and aside from some minor success, ran the team into the ground.  Despite having a net worth of over a billion dollars, Schultz worried about losing a few million and decided to sell the Sonics to an ownership group from Oklahoma City, even though it was widely known that they would attempt to relocate the franchise to their hometown.  He could have sold the team to other local business people and prevented this all from happening, but he declined.  He’ll forever have the legacy of Seattle’s biggest traitor.

Instead, from day one of their ownership, Clay Bennett, Aubrey McClendon (who was the 8th largest donor to the Swift Boat Veterans who smeared John Kerry in 2004 and is currently raking in a fortune as the head of Chesapeake Energy while we pay $4.50 a gallon), and the rest of The Professional Basketball Club, LLC, lied to the city and people of Seattle, promising that they would do everything possible to keep the team here.  Rather than keep their word, they traded behind the scenes emails that later became public about how they were planning on moving the Sonics all along, and literally laughed about keeping it a secret.  At the same time, they snuggled up to Bennett’s long time friend, NBA Commissioner David Stern.

After doing everything in their power NOT to keep the Sonics in Seattle (including a Major League style fire sale that led to the Sonics posting their worst record in franchise history last year), the city was left with one last option: sue the team to ensure that they play out the final years of their lease at Key Arena or settle with them for a barrel of money and hope to receive an expansion franchise (or steal someone else’s team…hello Memphis) in the years to come.  Rather than irrevocably damage their relationship with Stern and the league, the City of Seattle caved and gave up the team for $45 million dollars, or $75 million if another NBA franchise isn’t put in place within 5 years.  This doesn’t even cover the economic benefits of having the Sonics here, let alone the non-financial value the team had to the city and residents.  There’s also no guarantee that we’ll get another team, and one of the greatest cities in the world (not to mention the 13th biggest market in America) will be without professional basketball for years to come.

In layman’s terms: a bunch of really rich people decided to become local heroes by going to another city, swindling more rich people and an inept local government, and stealing a franchise that had been there for 41 years.  In the process, they ripped out the hearts and souls of the people in that city, including my own.

Teams have relocated in other sports and other cities in the past, but never under such devious and unscrupulous auspices.  It’s unfathomable that a city as brilliant as Seattle is going to be without an NBA team, and it’s a warning shot to sports fans everywhere.  If a city’s franchise can be hijacked and stolen away in broad daylight, it sets a frightening precedent.

Worst of all, this has a real effect on the kids in this area.  I grew up obsessed with basketball and shaped almost every aspect of my life around it.  The friends I made, the memories I had, in full, the person I have become…are all direct results of growing up in the Seattle basketball community.  It’s part of who I am.  Now similar kids won’t have this opportunity here.  Dads can’t bond with their sons at Sonics games like I did with my stepdad.  That’s gone.  The 8th graders I coached this past year are absolutely crushed, and all because a few rich people decided to screw us all over.

I’ve been doing my best not to swear on this site (no easy feat on a hip-hop blog), but this is the first time where it’s completely justified, and in fact, too lenient.

Fuck you Howard Schultz.  Fuck you Clay Bennett. Fuck you David Stern. You stole basketball from the city of Seattle and you stole memories from me.  You extinguished the possibility of life changing experiences for future generations and I hate you all.

(NBA Finals, 1996.  The start of summer after 8th grade.  We were louder than the PA announcer.  I’ll never forget it.)

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6 Responses to “RIP Seattle Supersonics”

  1. soulsupreme says:

    I read the official piece of this morning. I still don’t know how David Stern let the team get moved ? Seattle has been part of the NBA and been successful for so many years, there moving the team like its an expansion team or something. No offense to Oklahoma City, but how much more small market can you get ? Really sad day for the west coast man. Stay up hyphen.


  2. mike says:

    A damn shame. I went through a similar (though not nearly as heart breaking) situation with the Charlotte Hornets. Led the league in attendance for 8 straight seasons and then the owners shit all over the fans. In the end, the fans turned on the team and drove them out purposely. Now we have the Bobcats, but shits not the same.

    Sad thing for me as an east coaster is that the Sonics had a bright future. They instantly became one of my favorite teams when they drafted Durant and Jeff Green last year. Also the fact that this has been brewing for a long time and nothing was really made out of it in the national media is just a travesty.

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  5. SB says:

    fuck all of them plus the Mayor and Gov. they can suck on the same dick

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