So last night a number of my co-workers attended the Sonics home opener. I didn't make it, but good seats were still available and scalpers were spotted visibly weeping.
The house was apparently 2/3rds full, which was a surprise given that the Sonics management was promoting the game with all the stealth usually reserved for a state legislator's pay raise. The game itself was described as three quarters of good basketball, followed by a complete self-destruct similar to that experienced in their season opener the day before.
And even the most die-hard fans among my friends accused the Sonics of taking a dive.
Here's the deal, for those outside the Sound. The Sonics were bought last year by a group out of Oklahoma, who publicly pledged that they would love, simply love, to keep the team in Seattle, as opposed to moving it to smaller-market OKC, a town which is best known as a site of right-wing terrorism and, in a bit of trivia, the aerial bombing of the poor (An aviator in the 20's bombed the black neighborhoods with dynamite).
Upon purchase of the Sonics, the new owners proceeded to demand the most expensive arena in the NBA, and when the fandom proved to be insufficiently stupid, declared that they have exhausted all options and have no other choice but to make the move and could-you-let-us-out-of-the-lease-early-thanks? The city was less than accommodating, winning the point in court and forcing the new owners to appeal to the NBA, who will gladly junk the agreement to keep their owners happy.
Mind you, in the midst of this, own of the owners had the poor judgment to publicly state that they were never planning on hanging around, anyway, and those rubes in Seattle were just being strung along. The other owners declared this a misstatement. Uh-HUH.
So now, to show that Seattle doesn't have the heart to love a major league team, they are delivering crap-tastic basketball in the hopes of driving as many fans away as possible, thereby expediting their escape to the heartland. And they have sent the message they will keep on losing until they get what they want, regardless of the desires of the fans or the players. Good game, guys.
Me, I don't care much about B-Ball except when my kid sister was playing (go Grove City!), but it strikes me as perfect local sport for local heroes and talented college kids, not an game of industrialized powers. But the owners have been jerking the city around from Day One, and having turned some of their most dedicated fans into suspicious antagonists (two lawsuits are already pending), they should not be surprised that no one around here has a handkerchief for their crocodile tears.
Oh, and it turns out that an investors group from OKC is ALSO sniffing around the Pittsburgh Penguins. Just so you know.
UPDATE: So one of my co-workers showed a small (quarter of a page) flier that was being handed out, with the Save Our Sonics logo and the office phone number of NBA head David Stern. Yes, he called, which apparently neither the NBA nor the SOS (who did not approve the use of the logo) appreciate. How frustrating it must be to let the fans interfere with letting the team flee the city!
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