Let the Sonics Go!

The final logo of the SuperSonics

The final logo of the SuperSonics. Always thought the “S” looked too much like a swastika.

My first love in sports was basketball and by extension the Seattle Supersonics. My Dad was a season ticket holder from year one of the franchise in 1968. I was four years old. Every season until I moved out to go to college in 1982 he would bring home player and team posters from some of the 41 home dates the team played in the leaky T-Pee, the Coliseum. The blanketed my bedroom walls as I grew up.

By the time I was 12 and in the 6th grade, I was 6-foot 1-inch tall, and was taller than anyone at my school. And naturally I played basketball. Had I kept growing, even a little bit my basketball career would probably have amounted to much more than it did. But 6-1 remains my height today.

I grew up loving the Sonics. Leaping Lee Winfield was my first favorite star, though I know now he was hardly a star. I just liked the nickname that Sonics’ announcer Bob Blackburn laid on him. Dick Snyder, Fred Brown, Gus Williams, Jack Sikma, Xavier McDaniel, Tom Chambers, Gary Payton, Shawn Kemp, and Kevin Durant…to name just a tiny few…were all my primary source of entertainment November through April and if we were lucky, like we were three different Springs, into June. When they won the NBA Championship in 1979 I organized all my friends to skip school and take the bus downtown to watch the victory parade. Pretty heady stuff for a 13-year-old. I’d never been to downtown Seattle unaccompanied by an adult.

English: Supersonics basketball game; City Lig...

When Sonics owner and Starbucks magnate Howard Shultz announced the sale of the team to Oklahoma businessman Clay Bennett I immediately bought a full season ticket package. While I was instantly fearful that Bennett would move the team to Oklahoma City I wanted to make certain I did everything I could to stop him, especially attending all the games and giving him more money than my family and new business, Total Broadcasting Service, could realistically afford to spend.

I didn’t renew my tickets for the 2007-2008 season. At that point it was abundantly clear that Bennett had zero intension of keeping the team in Seattle, Bellevue, Renton or any place else. I still wrote letters to the Seattle Times and watched all the games on TV, that lousy, NBA worst team. And when Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels betrayed us all and sold out the city’s final chance of keeping the Sonics where they belonged and had resided for 40 years a little bit of me died. I haven’t watched an NBA game since.

Image representing Steve Ballmer as depicted i...

Steve Ballmer

Like so many others in the Northwest today’s news that the Sacramento Kings were being sold to Chris Hansen and Microsoft billionaire Steve Ballmer excited me tremendously. But unlike everybody else, I am not hoping for a return of the Sonics or Supersonics. I know I’m alone in this quest, but I sincerely hope Hansen and his group get an NBA team here to our wet city and give it a name other than the Sonics. To me the Sonics are dead. They are gone and short of the Thunder coming back to Seattle I want nothing to do with them. Furthermore, when Bennett left, Nickels allowed him to keep all of the franchises history, their team colors, even the 1979 Championship Trophy. In catching a glimpse of the NBA Finals last year it made me sick to hear the announcers incorrectly say “…this is the fourth trip to the NBA Finals for this franchise”. NO IT WASN’T. It was the Thunder’s first. Seattle’s 3 trips to the finals are not yours to claim, Clay Bennett. What the hell do you know about the glory of Lenny Wilkens and THAT team, or George Karl and THAT team? Renaming the Kings the Sonics would be hollow to me.

I want a new beginning, a fresh start and the ability to root on a new team with a new name. And that new name should be strong, bold and reflective of Seattle’s history. Before it was even a city it was a timber town. In fact supplying timber pilings for San Francisco construction efforts was what enabled the Arthur Denny Party to establish roots here in 1851. They cleared the hills above the Duwamish tide flats and sold what they harvested to a merchant seaman who just happened to sail into their vicinity. Denny knew they’d be coming back for more and immediately set up the Northwest timber industry.

I’d like to see the new Seattle NBA team take a name no previous sports team in the city ever has. Embrace the city’s beginnings and become The Loggers, or The Timbers (too much like Timberwolves?), The Lumberjacks, Ax Men, Saw Men, Foresters. Such names denote strong men with character. And it salutes our regions past like no other name could and like no other organization ever has.

Realizing this is only a dream of mine I’m eager to hear other suggestions. If not the Sonics, what name should a Seattle NBA team have?

Thanks for visiting. Comments are welcome and encouraged.

A Scar from my Dad that Won’t Heal.

This was So important to meWhen my daughter came to me this morning before school to tell me that she and her fellow cheerleaders were cheering at the first girls basketball game of the year I sighed slightly and started to tell her my busy schedule would prevent me from attending. As I spoke these words her gentle and sweet 13-year-old face…sunk. She clearly expected me to be there as I have been for virtually all her cheerleading events of this year and all other flute, choir, school related performances she has ever been part of.

When I realized that my schedule wasn’t THAT busy, at least not busy enough to disappoint my daughter I told her I’d be there. She smiled a broad and bright smile and gave me a kiss. I’d made her happy and it didn’t cost me anything more than my time, a mere 60-90 minutes.

Only this past football season I saw a college football star being interviewed after a big performance in a game when the interviewer asked, “Your Mom is here. I understand she never missed one of your games as you were growing up.” The ball-player laughed, smiled and said, “Heck, she never missed an assembly”.  Pretty special mom, I thought.

Sales-trainer-author Tom Hopkins said some years ago, “When your kids bother to tell you about an event, realize IT’S IMPORTANT TO THEM! If it wasn’t important, they wouldn’t tell you.” I know it may seem obvious to some, and those “some” are the parents of young kids or no kids. When your children reach their teens there are all kinds of things, and events they don’t tell you about; many that you wish they had.

If you are not there, or you somehow prevent your kids from being-there at an event they told you about or participating themselves you could be hurting them for a lot longer than the youthful, immature disappointment of missing something they had a fleeting interest in. My Dad’s ill temper and poor judgement on one such issue scars me to this very day. And it still hurts.

I am and always have been a huge sports fan. My first love was basketball. It’s a love I inherited from my father. He was a Seattle Sonics season ticket holder from their first year in 1967 until illness and disability caused him to give up his tickets in 1997. When I was growing up I had posters on my bedroom wall of all the Sonic Stars; Spencer Haywood, Fred Brown, Slick Watts, Leonard Grey, Leaping Lee Winfield, Coach Bill Russell, and Lenny Wilkins.

I was 15 years old when the Sonics won the NBA Championship in June 1979 and like so many others in the greater-Seattle region I made plans to attend the Championship Victory Parade Downtown the following Monday. Since I lived in Bellevue and the parade was on a school day planning was no small matter. I got permission from my Dad to skip school, then contacted all my friends who I wanted to go with, figured out the bus routes I’d need to take and got really excited. It was gonna be great. Nothing like this had EVER happened in Seattle and as it turned out never would again, at least at this point.

Problem was on Sunday, the day before the parade my Dad retracted his permission for me to go. He had been drinking. He was always an angry drunk. And in a moment in which he felt I back-talked to him (I guess) he told me I wasn’t going to the parade. I was shocked! I was absolutely shocked! This was going to be the biggest event in my life to that point and I had made all my plans. But my Dad had spoken. I got the impression he was genuinely pleased with himself for striking such a moving blow to his son. My size took away the option of him getting physical with me anymore. So his choices of discipline had been significantly hampered.

I was alone at school the next day. All my friends were at the parade. It was an unusually warm and sunny day for the city of Seattle. Everyone was in T-shirts. Estimates put the crowd at well over 200-thousand people. When my friends returned later in the day they stopped by my home to share just how wonderful it was. They didn’t have to. I knew beforehand that it was going to be a memory of a lifetime.

Some days later my Dad glowered over me about it. He says he called my school that day to make sure I’d gone to school. I don’t think my Dad ever fully appreciated the fact that I was a good kid. I did what my parents told me, always. I hadn’t even considered skipping school after he told me I couldn’t. But I would never forget.

As you can probably tell in my writing I still resent the hell out of my Dad for taking this event from me. No other Seattle major sports team has won a professional championship since that sunny week in June 1979. In the 33 years since then news accounts and occasionally friends will reference the parade and how wonderful it was. Trust me. I know.

Talk this week of Seattle getting a new sports arena for the NBA and possibly the NHL has revived the references to the championship and the parade and the long ago ache that never seems to go away. I still have the Seattle PI Headlines and Sports page from the championship framed and on display in my home.

I try to remember the hurt my Dad caused with his temper. Because I have a temper. And unlike my father I would never take joy from crushing my children. I’m not perfect, so I’m not saying I haven’t made mistakes. I hope I haven’t. But I do keep in mind that my words, deeds, and discipline of my kids have impact. Sometimes…lifelong impact. Just like every parent.

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Stern’s trade veto about owners wanting their power back | ProBasketballTalk

David Stern is a prick. The veto of the Chris Paul trade to L.A. hurts all involved. Why do I care? Because the Hornets are not going to stay in New Orleans. Despite Stern’s continued efforts…basketball doesn’t work there. It has failed twice (I’m counting this current version of NBA hoops along with the Jazz). If the Hornets move….easily the most attractive city to move to that doesn’t currently have an NBA franchise…Seattle. In other words watch what Stern and the NBA does with the make-up of the Hornets this year. They could be the Sonics next year.

Stern’s trade veto about owners wanting their power back | ProBasketballTalk.

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