How I came to ignore the NBA
Former Sonics writer Rich Myhre on why he doesn't care about the NBA playoffs and how he came to love Mark Cuban
But honestly, I wouldn't know.
And that's because I'm not watching. The NBA and its spring playoffs have become, in my mind, something to ignore.
For 13 seasons ending in 2004-05, I covered the Seattle Supersonics for The Herald. Before that I was a kid who grew up following the team. Basketball in general and the Sonics in particular were a huge part of my life for almost four decades.
But when the Sonics left after the 2007-08 season -- transplanted to Oklahoma City and renamed the Thunder -- my interest in the league and the team went poof.
NBA commissioner David Stern and the other league owners who supported the move while ignoring the team's long, proud legacy in Seattle? New owner Clay Bennett, who feigned interest in keeping the Sonics here while preparing all along to take them to OKC?
A pox on both your houses.
Oh, and let's not forget former Sonics owner Howard Schultz, the Starbucks coffee baron, who sold the team to Bennett, thereby assuring the team's relocation.
I sort of wish Schultz had moved Starbucks to Oklahoma City and kept the Sonics here.
And since we're playing the blame game, we must include ex-Seattle mayor Greg Nickels, Seattle council member (and former council president) Nick Licata, and other state and local politicos for being less than staunch in their efforts to retain the team.
In the end, the Sonics debacle was a perfect storm of hypocrisy, greed, indifference, arrogance and deceit. And in a most grievous irony, the chief culprits ended up with the biggest rewards. Bennett got his team, Schultz got a ton of money from the sale, and Seattle fans were left with nothing except the slowly fading memories of great teams, great players and great moments.
It's why I try not to think too much anymore about the Sonics (aka Thunder), although it's hard this time of year because spring is the season of the NBA playoffs.
And from what I hear, our former team is doing very well.
In fact, Oklahoma City already has advanced through two playoff rounds to reach the Western Conference finals, and is taking on the Dallas Mavericks for the chance to play for an NBA championship.
I've been asked a few times in recent days which team I'm rooting for. And my answer is ...
The reason is not what you think. I have no ill will for the Oklahoma City players and coaches, although most weren't with the club in Seattle. Nick Collison and Kevin Durant are the only former Sonics still on the roster, while assistant coaches Mark Bryant and Brian Keefe were in Seattle just one year. Among other team personnel, the only ones of my acquaintance are strength-and-conditioning coach Dwight Daub, director of team operations (formerly equipment manager) Marc St. Yves, and play-by-play broadcaster Brian Davis.
Likewise, I don't begrudge the Oklahoma City fans their chance to enjoy the thrill and elation of a prolonged playoff run. I wish it was us, but it's their team now and that's just how it is.
Lastly, I can't even muster much enmity for Bennett anymore. By now it's just healthier to let it go.
No, I'm pulling for the Mavericks for one reason. Or, more accurately, one person.
I'm backing Dallas in support of team owner Mark Cuban.
Cuban, who sold his Internet sports broadcasting company to Yahoo! in 1999 and then used some of his newfound wealth to buy the Mavericks a year later, was one of two NBA owners who voted against the Sonics' move to Oklahoma City back in 2008. The other was Paul Allen, a Seattle guy who owns the Portland Trail Blazers (also the NFL's Seattle Seahawks), giving him obvious reasons for wanting the Sonics to stay in town.
Cuban, though, voted against the move because he knew it was wrong. He rightly saw Seattle as a great market and he felt the league would be less to lose it. I'm sure he also understood that Sonics fans were getting a raw deal. And in a league where other owners were quick to glad hand Bennett and his megabucks, Cuban had the character and the class to say, in effect, "No, this isn't right."
So as much as I'm no NBA fan anymore, I'm a big Mark Cuban fan. I really hope his Mavericks knock off the Thunder, and then go on to win the title.
But I still won't be watching.
Staff writer Rich Myhre covered the Seattle SuperSonics for The Herald from 1992-2005.
Where were they then?
The Thunder has just two players on its roster who made the move from Seattle to Oklahoma City after the 2007-08 NBA season. Here's what the current Thunder players and coaches were doing during the Sonics' final season in the Northwest:
Cole Aldrich — Freshman at the University of Kansas. Averaged 2.8 points per game
Daequan Cook — Rookie season with the NBA's Miami Heat. 8.8 ppg
Nick Collison — In his fourth NBA season with the Sonics. 9.8 ppg
Kevin Durant — Rookie season with the Sonics. 20.3 ppg
James Harden — Freshman at Arizona State University. 17.8 ppg
Serge Ibaka — An 18-year-old playing for C.B. L'Hospitalet in the Spanish LEB Gold League. 11.3 ppg
Eric Maynor — Junior at Virginia Commonwealth. 17.9 ppg.
Nazr Mohammed — Split 10th NBA season between Charlotte and Detroit. 7.8 ppg.
Byron Mullens — McDonald's All-American at Canal Winchester High School in Ohio
Kendrick Perkins — In his fifth NBA season with the Boston Celtics. 6.9 ppg.
Nate Robinson — In his third NBA season with the New York Knicks. 12.7 ppg.
Thabo Sefolosha — In his second NBA season with the Chicago Bulls. 6.7 ppg.
Robert Vaden — Junior at Alabama-Birmingham. 21.1 ppg
Russell Westbrook — Sophomore at UCLA. 12.7 ppg.
Head coach Scott Brooks — Assistant coach, Seattle SuperSonics
Assistant coach Maurice Cheeks — Head coach Philadelphia 76ers.
Assistant coach Rex Kalamian — Assistant coach, Sacramento Kings
Assistant coach Mark Bryant — Assistant coach, Seattle SuperSonics
Assistant coach Brian Keefe — Assistant coach, Seattle SuperSonics