Sonics Rally Review
“I hate you so much.”
That was the first thing I heard this morning from Mikey, one of my 8-year-old twins.
He was mad because Oklahoma City lost Game 2 of the NBA Finals to Miami last night, evening the series at 1-1.
Mikey’s a huge fan of Kevin Durant and the Thunder – as I’ve mentioned on the Calabro show a few times, he and Stevie have a life-sized Durant Fathead on a wall in their bedroom.
He also knows that I’m rooting for the Heat because I don’t want to see Clay Bennett accepting the NBA championship trophy from David Stern.
Mikey had no idea that I was thinking about him a lot Thursday at the Sonics’ rally at Occidental Park in Pioneer Square.
Looking around at thousands of fans in green and gold, taking up every square inch of the park, I thought back to 1967 and how excited I was as a 10-year-old when the SuperSonics first arrived in Seattle.
It’s very, very cool to think about “them” returning – I put “them” in quotes because we all know it will be a different team, not the original Sonics, but that’s more than OK.
It was great to see the passion, great to see the Glove and the Reign Man as well as Detlef and Slick.
My favorite Sonic of all-time wasn’t there, but yesterday I thought of Spencer Haywood and pretending to be him in the gravel driveway of our home in Redmond, a home that no longer exists, just like the Sonics.
I also thought of Lenny Wilkens and the thrill of having him coach my team in a game at Bob Houbregs’ basketball camp at Fort Casey on Whidbey Island when I was maybe 12 or 13 years old.
When you think of Wilkens, you naturally think about the 1979 team that he led to the NBA championship. It also made me think about where I was when the Sonics beat the Bullets in Game 5 to win the title – with my friend, Bob Norton, in his Ketchikan apartment, drinking beers and celebrating.
Bob died two years ago of ALS, and yesterday as much as all of the former Sonics, I was thinking about him too.
I grew up wanting to cover the Sonics for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and was lucky enough to do it for six years, from 1990-96, one of the greatest stretches in franchise history.
In so doing, I got to work with two of my heroes growing up – John Owen at the P-I and Bob Blackburn, the original voice of the Sonics.
I’m not sure exactly where I’m going with all of this, and I’m no doubt rambling, making no sense whatsoever, but yesterday and the day before, when Steve Ballmer and the Nordstrom brothers were added to the ownership group, I finally felt like this is ACTUALLY going to happen.
The Sonics are really going to come back. They’re going to be here, creating lasting memories for my own kids and everyone else’s kids.
It’s hard to say when it will happen, but our white knight, Chris Hansen, believes a team will be here within five years, maybe sooner. If I had to bet – and Lord knows I like to – I’d bet that the Sacramento Kings will be the Seattle SuperSonics, playing at KeyArena in 2013-14 and 2014-15 while the new arena is being built.
The Kings are already assured of playing next season in Sacramento, but talks have stalled for a new arena there, and you’d think at some point the financially strapped Maloof brothers will be forced to sell the team even if they don’t want to.
If you weren’t at Occidental Park yesterday, you missed a terrific event that brought Sonics’ fans of all ages together, unified in their support of Hansen.
And it happened on a day when Oklahoma City lost, which was perfect, but Hansen reminded fans that it was more important to focus on the future.
“Think about the first day when you hear that the NBA is coming back,” Hansen told the crowd. “Then think about the first day they play here. And think about the first day they play in the new arena…Then think about the day when we hang a few jerseys in the rafters.”
Yesterday the good times returned and soon the Sonics will too.
Have a nice weekend. Go Cougs!
This post originally appeared at 710KIRO ESPN