Imagine you’re a resident of the great city of Seattle, the pride of the Pacific Northwest. Oh, and it’s 2008. Your favorite basketball team, the Seattle SuperSonics, just had an awful season, finishing 20-62. But it is okay, because it’s 2008, and your team just drafted Kevin Durant a year ago, who averaged 20.3 PPG and won the NBA Rookie of the Year. Also, Lil Wayne’s The Carter III just came out, so you’re encouraged about the future as a whole.
But now, any hope for your basketball fandom has been dashed by the news that the ownership group headed by Oklahoma City businessman Clay Bennett has reached a settlement with the city to move the SuperSonics out of Seattle and to Oklahoma City, of all places. The team that you’ve known for your entire life, that’s been a part of your city since 1966, has been snatched away to the middle of the nowhere.
Now it’s time to bring them back to Seattle, in one form or another, but preferably in their previous form, in all their yellow and green glory. The NBA has been considering expansion for a couple of years now and has been searching for potential destinations at familiar sports cities like Pittsburgh, Kansas City and Vancouver. All are deserving of an NBA franchise, but Seattle is above all the only necessary destination, and it should be done as soon as possible.
If you look at the void left by the Sonics’ departure, it’s clear to see that Seattle is a rabid sports town that has some of the best fans in the world. When the Sonics left in 2008, a new team arrived the next year, the Seattle Sounders, as a part of the MLS, the premier soccer league in the U.S. The citizens quickly latched onto the new team, setting MLS attendance records for the team’s first eight seasons. They quickly became one of the most valuable sports franchises in North America. The fans even started a 53-member marching band called the Sound Wave, dedicated to performing at each of the Sounders’ home matches. A marching band for God’s sakes.
It’s not just new teams that attract the super fans of Seattle. The city has a great history of supporting every one of their sports teams to the fullest. When the city’s WNBA franchise, the Seattle Storm, won the League’s championship this year, it was the biggest basketball celebration that Seattle has seen since 1979, the year of the SuperSonics’ one and only NBA championship.
The dedicated fans of the Seattle Seahawks, better known as the “12th Man,” have legitimately set the Guinness World Record for loudest crowd noise at a sporting event, not once, but twice.
Aside: The record-level of decibels was at 137.6 decibels. To give you an idea on how loud that is, the sound of a jet engine at 100 feet is 140 decibels, and the loudest level that sound can occur at is 194 decibels.
We know that the city misses the SuperSonics dearly. When the Golden State Warriors played at the KeyArena in Seattle during the preseason, it was a sold-out affair, like basketball had never left the city. Even Kevin Durant said it himself, “It’s a basketball city. It’s a sports town,” he told ESPN.
The return of the Sonics would help the NBA reach another sector of the West Coast market that already gets lost in the shuffle of late night games. Bringing the nostalgia and intrigue that comes with a returning franchise would bolster the Association’s popularity in the Pacific Northwest, whose only draw as of now is the Portland Trail Blazers.
Also, think about the jersey and marketing possibilities that would come with returning the NBA back to Seattle. The Association would have a field day highlighting how “basketball is back and better than ever” in Seattle. See? The narrative writes itself.
How should the NBA go about bringing the Sonics back? Well, I will tell you, reader.
There’s only two possible options: relocation of an already existing NBA franchise or the creation of a new franchise through expansion.
The NBA does not have any current plans for expansion, meaning that this could take a while to come to fruition. We’re looking anywhere from 10-20 years down the road. Expansion would involve reorganizing the NBA’s Conferences and playoff structure, a path that the NBA seemingly does not want to go down right now.
The less fun option is relocating an already existing NBA franchise, which has happened countless times in league history. Seattle almost nabbed the Sacramento Kings franchise back in 2013, as it was reported that the aforementioned investment group was close to purchasing the franchise. However, the NBA’s Board of Governors shot down the dreams of Sonics fans everywhere, voting against relocation, effectively robbing the city of their beloved team again.
As of right now, we’re back to square one, with no team in Seattle. No NBA team to fill the KeyArena, to quench the thirst of the Seattleites. But hope should not be lost, as the Emerald City still remains the leading choice for expansion, whenever it happens.
I can only hope that it happens in my lifetime, mostly so I can buy a Sonics jersey without looking like a hipster.