By now, you've likely heard the news. The Kings have almost certainly been sold to a Seattle-based billionaire, whos stated goal is to move the Kings to Seattle by the start of next season. Barring a divine intervention, in all likelihood, Sacramento just got screwed over, and basketball has returned to the city of Seattle. (Edit: Maaaaaaybe. We still don't know. Pah.)
How does Oklahoma City react? I think I'm speaking for a lot of Oklahomans when I say that I really don't know what to say about this situation.
On the one hand, it's an absolute shame that the Emerald City has been without professional basketball for this long. Seattle deserves a team more than at least half of the cities in the NBA right now. They have a proud and passionate fan base with a long tradition, and a definite basketball culture. Moreover, the Sonics were the most well-established professional franchise to be destroyed by north american pro sports.
On the other hand, Sacramento got screwed. Totally and utterly screwed. The Maloofs basically handled the entire ordeal like idiots with no feelings for anyone involved. Just take the recent example of them making the city of Virginia Beach waste $1.2 Million. They make Clay Bennett look like an angel. And if you ever needed an example of the passion of Kings fans, look at the tearful signoff by their TV announcers when it appeared the team would be leaving in 2011. Look at the Here We Stay movement. Look at how the arena cheered during the 2002 Western Conference Finals. I'm not joking here. Sacremento and Seattle are the two of the best NBA fan bases on the map.
It might be easy to point to Oklahoma City and say that we're the villains in all of this. That Clay Bennett is the one who started all of this moving business, and that none of this would be a problem if the Sonics weren't ripped from Seattle. And while I won't deny that taking the Sonics away was the wrong thing to do, what happened today has almost nothing to do with the 2008 move. The Maloofs would have lost their money regardless of what happened in Seattle, and if they weren't selling the team to Seattle, they would have just found some other willing owners in Kansas City or Louisville, who both have brand new arenas.
None of my pandering above really got to the heart of what this article is about. How is a Thunder fan supposed to feel? Is the monkey finally off our back?
Well, I will say that the monkey is gone, but only for now. Hate for Oklahoma City will eventually dissipate once the Sonics inevitably win a game against the Thunder. But the fact remains that a precedent has been set for the ownership of NBA franchises, and the Sonics move will be remembered as the trend that started it all. Franchises aren't something civic. They're not tied to a city, nor attached to a fan base. They're a business commodity to be bought and sold, history be darned. The NBA isn't looking to expand any time soon, and there's more than one city that wants a pro basketball team right now. This is going to happen again. And, who knows? 10 years down the road, when the Chesapeake Arena isn't looking so hot, Oklahoma City could lose the Thunder before you get a chance to blink.
But, let's get back to that question. How do you feel?
I hate to admit it. I absolutely hate to admit it. But honestly, I'm excited. Guiltily excited, but excited nonetheless. The Thunder will finally get their rival. They'll get regular chances to face the team that caused Thunder fans so much anguish and sweet sorrow. It will be a matchup with the nations eyes watching, and thousands of emotions rising and falling in a single second. The Kings have never really provided that level of satisfaction.
Still, I do know that others are suffering while I feel joy. And I also understand that at some point, my joy could become sorrow. But at the end of the day, the NBA is continuing to gain influence worldwide, so the future possibilities for expansion are endless. Sacramento will get their team back. It has to.
Lest we forget, there's still other fallout to deal with here.
Clay Bennett still has a role in this. He's the head of the NBA's relocation committee (last time I checked). But more importantly, he still owns everything that is Supersonics. The championship banner, the trophy, the retired jerseys, the sasquatch costume, everything. They're all probably literally sitting in a storage facility somewhere in Oklahoma City. Whether Bennett returns the memorabilia is all up in the air.
How will this move affect the divisions? As it sits now, Seattle would be paired with all of the California teams and Phoenix in the Pacific Division, but the Trail Blazers would be stuck in the "Northwest" division with a bunch of inland teams. Perhaps Phoenix moves to a newly named "Midwest" Division while Portland moves to the Pacific? Maybe Seattle moves back to the Northwest and Denver or Utah moves to the Pacific. Maybe the Southwest Division is involved somehow. Maybe the Lakers are moved into the Eastern Conference. Who knows?
Do the history and records go back to Seattle? The Thunder are still listed as the continuation of the Sonics in the record books. On TV, Brian Davis still cites Sonics records, even if it is dismissively. Does that history officially move back over now, like the NFL did with the Browns/Ravens ordeal? Or do we keep it? More importantly, how will Nick Collison ever get the team record for charges taken now?
How will OKC @ Seattle look? The first game will be historic. Big! Huge! I have no idea how it might go down, but my article on the issue might help shed some light.
Where will the Sonics play? The new arena won't be complete for a couple of years. Do they fire up Key Arena again?
Anyway, enough of me prattling on. What do you think? (All comments unfitting of a gentleman will be deleted.)