Sleepless in Seattle: Why the Sonics Should, And Won't, Be Playing Today

Imagine if cosmic justice meant more than money. ↵

↵The Seattle SuperSonics left Seattle two years ago, and most Seattle fans' enthusiasm for basketball evaporated as the team evanesced. The Seattle Times' Steve Kelley lays the blame for the birth of the Oklahoma City Thunder and their attendant excitement at ex-mayor Greg Nickels' doorstep. ↵

↵
↵⇥⇥The Sonics, the team of the future, would be arriving a season ahead of schedule, preparing to play their arch-rivals, the Los Angeles Lakers, in the first round of the NBA playoffs.⇥⇥⇥⇥ ↵⇥

↵⇥⇥This is what then-mayor Greg Nickels and the Seattle City Council took away from the region. This is the excitement they stole from Seattle's sports fans when they caved, two seasons ago, to the NBA's hard bargaining.⇥⇥⇥⇥ ↵⇥

↵⇥⇥ ↵⇥

↵⇥⇥They could have stood up to the league. Instead they played matador defense. They allowed Clay Bennett to skip out of town to Oklahoma City, practically unscathed.⇥⇥⇥⇥ ↵⇥

↵
↵Kelley goes on to blister Nickels for his complicity in grand theft Kevin Durant Et Al., but what Nickels did in this case might have helped Seattle more in the long term. Publicly financed stadiums are among the more reviled concepts of the sporting world, hurting local economies and filling the coffers of the millionaires and billionaires in ownership groups. So Nickels and the Seattle government tried to fight. ↵

↵But this is how events involving the massively wealthy usually go: The wealthy win. After Clay Bennett's ownership group failed to gain traction on a $500 million arena to replace Seattle's KeyArena, it informed the NBA it would move the team to Oklahoma City and settled a lawsuit with the city of Seattle to get out of the team's lease. ↵

↵

↵It's not fair to the residents and government of Seattle that they resisted what amounted to a ransom demand to keep their beloved team, but money permits a suspension of fairness. The concessions Seattle got -- essentially, $45 million for the move, $30 million if Seattle does not get an NBA team by 2013, and a promise that the history of the SuperSonics can be "shared" -- pale in comparison to the commitment Seattle's loyal fans had to a team that was on the rise thanks to Durant.  ↵

↵

↵It's not fair. But it's how these things go. ↵

↵

↵Today, Seattle's forecast is partly cloudy. It would be hard not to expect any Sonics fan who flips on the Thunder game to see the clouds and not the sky. ↵

↵

This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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