The 2020-21 NBA season is now underway, and just as it has since 2008 it tipped off without the Seattle SuperSonics.
But could the first steps of changing that be in the works? And if so, do you care?
The NBA season opened last Tuesday, with commissioner Adam Silver conducting a corresponding press conference to discuss the league’s issues. Among those brought up was the idea of expansion.
In the past Silver has rejected the idea of growing the league beyond its current 30 teams. But this time Silver acknowledged the league has explored the possibility of expansion. One suspects the revenue losses associated with the coronavirus pandemic and playing games without fans has the league’s owners thinking twice — specifically about the way the estimated $2 billion in expansion fees that would be raised from adding two teams would help fill those revenue gaps.
And, of course, the belief is that Seattle would be first in line.
The Puget Sound region has been without NBA basketball ever since a group led by Clay Bennett bought the team from Howard Schultz in 2006 and moved it to Oklahoma City two years later — does it feel like way more than 12 years since the Sonics were in town to anyone else? — where it became the Thunder. The whole contentious saga is cataloged expertly in the documentary “Sonicsgate” (which is available below and is highly recommended viewing, should you have a couple hours to spare).
It really is a shame there’s no NBA basketball in Seattle, given the region’s rich basketball history. The Sonics were Seattle’s first major professional sports franchise when they began play in 1967, and this was no failed venture. For more than 40 years the Sonics were a successful organization, making the playoffs on an almost annual basis and reaching three NBA finals, winning it all in 1979. The team featured Hall of Fame players like Gary Payton, Ray Allen, Spencer Haywood and Jack Sickma, and the Seattle area has produced all kinds of NBAers like Brandon Roy, Jason Terry, Jamal Crawford, Isaiah Thomas and Zach LaVine, as well as Snohomish County natives Jack Nichols and Jon Brockman.
Is it any wonder why there’s a loud local demographic hollering to bring the Sonics back? And with the construction of Climate Pledge Arena nearing completion, Seattle will presumably have a facility that meets the NBA’s approval.
But just how wide a swath does the committed supporter base cut? Before the team moved The Herald, because of staff reductions, stopped having a dedicated Sonics reporter, and former sports editor Kevin. Brown said he never received a single complaint. And while Bennett undertook a campaign to kill fan interest in the Sonics after buying the team, as he always had the intention of moving it to Oklahoma City, would a committed fan base have fallen for Bennett’s tactics and allowed him the opportunity to move the franchise?
So what do you think? How important is it to you that Seattle gets the Sonics back? Let us know here:
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