In the movie Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, the title character, Borat Sagdiyev, imparts the story of his younger brother Bilo, a tragedy-stricken young man who lives in a cage. For years Bilo is taunted by his sister, Natalya, the No. 4 prostitute in all of Kazakhstan. Natalya, who has even earned a trophy for her whoring efforts, often dances before her confined sibling, flashing her “vazheen,” shouting, “You will never get this, you will never get it, la la la la la la!”
Restricted to a life behind cold, metal bars, Bilo cries. He cries, says Borat, as everybody laughs. And as they laugh, Bilo’s older sister issues a firm decree: “You never get this.”
I know how you feel, Sonics fans. I feel the exact same way. We’re frustrated, exhausted, angry, disappointed, all of the above. Why should we care about the NBA anymore? Why should we give a damn about David Stern and his godforsaken league? All valid questions. All valid reasons to walk away from this situation that won’t seem to find its happy ending.
Frankly, it would be easier to quit at this point then continue investing our energy in a dream that may never become a reality. It would be easier to throw our hands up, turn our backs on the Association, and be done with pro basketball altogether.
With all due respect to Steve Ballmer, the Nordstrom family, minority stakeholders, ex-players, political figures, activists, media members, and anyone else who has helped lead the charge to bring the Sonics back to Seattle, I have to dedicate the following letter of thanks to one man, Chris Hansen. Without Chris, none of this “Bring Back the Sonics” mania even exists. Without Chris, we aren’t sitting here trying to wrap our collective heads around the real possibility that we may get our beloved green-and-gold-clad squad back. And without Chris, we lack the most important thing we need to keep the memory of our team and the prospect of its return alive: hope.
I still remember the day that Chris Hansen came riding into town on a proverbial white horse, seemingly out of nowhere, determined to bring the Sonics back to our fair city. It’s been more than a year. The first time I wrote about the guy was February 9th, 2012. I didn’t even know him, but I wanted to hug him. He got me believing in something that had been comatose, on life support. Who knew if the Sonics would ever come back? It had been three-and-a-half years since they’d left and the political climate from both ends of the spectrum — in Seattle, and with the NBA — was far from favorable.
But then this dude, this hedge fund manager, this guy no one knew — Who? Chris Hansen? The Dateline guy? The predator catcher? — changed all that.
I can’t be more clear about this. I don’t care what Chris Hansen does from this moment forward. I don’t care how he’s gone about trying to get our team back. I. Don’t. Care. The fact is, he’s made one hell of an effort. He’s put this entire town, this entire citizenry of basketball fans, upon his shoulders and carried us to this point. He’s done what no one before him could do. He’s made those who wanted to say “No,” say “Yes.” He’s forced non-believers to believe and believers to believe more. He’s been, if nothing else, inspirational.
It doesn’t all come down to today. Today, the NBA owners decide whether or not the Sacramento Kings can be relocated to Seattle. A vote in favor of relocation would pave the way for Hansen and Co. to buy the team, unencumbered, from the Maloof family. A vote against relocation would essentially allow for a Sacramento-based group led by Vivek Ranadive (and, let’s face it, mayor Kevin Johnson) to seize the team from the Maloofs, assuming the Maloofs would be willing to relinquish their asset to said group. A vote for the latter is what’s expected, the latter that likewise favors the opposition. Regardless of what decision is voted upon, however, there will be backlash. So no, this won’t be over on Wednesday. Not at all.
But let’s say the vote, as anticipated, were to favor Sacramento, not Seattle. And let’s say that the NBA, as anticipated, tried their hardest to get the Maloofs to sell the Kings to Ranadive’s group. Let’s say expansion failed to appear as a viable near-term option. And let’s say that, by Thursday, the situation looked bleak, at best. If Chris Hansen were to give up at that very moment, I wouldn’t blame him. I’d be a little surprised, but I wouldn’t blame him for walking away. And when I looked back upon Hansen’s legacy, I’d be happy for what he gave us over the course of a year-and-a-half. Because he’s given us a ton.
I don’t think Chris will give up, though. I don’t think he’ll quit. Not until the Sonics are more than just a memory. Not until there’s an NBA team inhabiting our city once again. What Chris Hansen and his cohorts have done is beyond amazing. They’ve given us hope, yes. But they’ve also given us clout with a league that turned its back on us just a few short years ago. They’ve given us a voice, they’ve made the world take notice. We’ve scratched and clawed our way back to relevance when it comes to professional basketball, and that’s thanks in large part to one individual who was brought to action by his own bubbling source of civic pride.
Maybe that’s why it will be damn near impossible to ever speak one ill word of Chris Hansen. Because unlike so many other guys who have propped themselves upon pedestals high above us average Seattleites, Hansen is one of us. He cares about this cause as much as we do. He loves Seattle as much as we do. He’s as average as they come, as average as the rest of us, and yet above-average in so many ways. As far as I’m concerned, this guy can do whatever the hell he wants. He’s a saint in my book. He deserves a holiday in his honor. Preferably something in August, because August needs a goddamn holiday. Who wants a day off in August? I know I do. Saint Hansen Day sounds like a good way to spend a summer afternoon.
No matter what happens today, tomorrow, next week, next year, next decade, I have two words for you, Chris: Thank you. You’ve made all of this possible. You’ve brought a legion of fans together. You’ve united a city. You’ve given us passion, you’ve given us fuel, you’ve given us reason to believe. We owe you a gigantic debt of gratitude and I can’t tell you how much all of this means to us. We are the Sonics, all of us. You, me, every fan emblazoned with the Seattle skyline in a green-and-gold semi-circle. Until our ballclub returns, this team is thousands upon thousands deep.
As they say in one of my favorite movies, Remember the Titans, “attitude reflects leadership.” You have led us remarkably. And we are one badass group of basketball fans.
Thanks, Chris. Go Sonics.
You know those “Jesus is _____” bumper stickers? Every time I see one of those, I want to walk up with a pen and write “only hitting .203″ on the blank line. Sure, the vehicle’s owner might not get nor appreciate the joke, but hey, don’t buy a fill-in-the-blank bumper sticker next time.
In fact, you could make all sorts of “Jesus is” wisecracks when it comes to Mariners catcher Jesus Montero. Jesus is 0-for-15 in throwing out stealing base runners. Jesus is unable to hit a curveball. Or how about this one: Jesus is destined for Triple-A. It’s that last “Jesus is” that might be most concerning. But based on current circumstances, it should become the team’s reality.
I hate losing. I once sat in a 1991 Toyota Previa in the Factoria Square parking lot and bawled for an hour because I had pitched poorly in a Little League game and had cost my team a victory. My family went inside to eat dinner and I stayed in the van, refusing to eat, refusing to move. I don’t do well with defeat. I never have. Even now, there is little that can be done to assuage me when my team so much as drops a rec basketball game. I will either a) sit in grim silence for an entire car ride home, or b) verbally break down every single thing that went wrong on our failed quest for triumph. My friends deserve a lot of credit for dealing with that version of me that, to this day, struggles to cope with losing.
I guess in many ways it’s ironic that I am a Seattle sports fans — I don’t know how to lose, and seemingly all my teams do is just that. My whole life, I’ve encountered failure from these entities I hold so dear to me, and yet I’ve never learned how to accept the bitter taste of defeat. I sat through an entire childhood of Seahawks futility, labored through thousands (literally, thousands) of Mariner losses, had seats in the upper level for every home game of the only 0-12 season in University of Washington football history, then paid witness to the ultimate heartbreak when the Sonics were taken from us and moved to Oklahoma City.
Before reading the following, I encourage you to read Jason Collins’ first-person piece in Sports Illustrated, the article announcing the 34-year-old’s sexuality. No matter your stance on the issue, the article is incredibly well-written, insightful, and moving. Aside from such a groundbreaking announcement, Collins’ personal reflection is admirable and intelligent. The column should serve not just as a revelation in its message, but also as a lesson in self-awareness. Regardless of Collins’ status as a professional athlete, it’s absolutely clear through the strength of his voice and the content of his character that he is more than capable of being a vocal leader in the gay community. Props to Jason Collins on being a trailblazer and, in his words, starting the conversation.
Jason Collins is the first athlete in a major professional sport to come out as gay and my first reaction is not one of shock over his sexuality, but shock that he still plays in the NBA. Because in all honesty, I thought Collins had long since gone the way of Mouhamed Sene and departed for a league overseas or the sanctity of retirement. Alas, to my stunned surprise, that isn’t the case at all. In reality, Collins is still an active NBA player. Imagine that.
My reaction is just one of a litany of reactions that will be inspired by Collins’ announcement. Personally, I don’t care whether a guy is gay, straight, or what-have-you. Maybe that’s why I was more shocked to learn that Collins is still an active NBA player as opposed to a former one — my ignorance is limited to Jason Collins, NBA player, rather than Jason Collins, gay NBA player.
This is not looking good. I’ve been feverishly checking my inbox and have yet to run across a 100-page manifesto on the failures of local sports journalists, a manifesto I was expecting to receive no later than today. Granted, there’s still a ton of time before Friday comes to a close, but the situation is grim, to say the least.
I don’t even know what to think right now. I’ve gone to all this trouble clearing 100 pages of online space right here on this site and now? Now I’m at a loss as to how I’ll fill that space if my columnist doesn’t come through.
You may be wondering how I came to be fortunate enough to be promised a 100-page manifesto in the first place. Great question.
Over the past decade, the Mariners have been really, really, really good at spawning anger and dissent amongst their fan base. Really good. I can’t tell you how good they’ve been at this. To the credit of the affected population, rather than commit crimes or go on villainous rampages, fans have taken to the world wide web to voice their displeasure for the organization, because frankly, what else is this online environment good for, anyway?
You’d think that people would be relatively unified in their angst over a team that hasn’t been to the postseason in twelve years, but that’s not the case at all. So what if we all agree that the team sucks? Some people out there don’t agree enough. Some people out there show signs of occasional optimism, others show too much pessimism, some aren’t as critical as we’d like them to be, others are far too critical. We can agree that the Mariners are bad, but we can’t agree on the way in which we all agree about that very thing we originally agreed upon. If this sounds ridiculous, that’s because it is.
Playing baseball on Sunday afternoons until the sky turned red and the shadows disappeared. Until my arm ached from hundreds and hundreds of tosses (forget pitch counts) and my legs tired from all the running. Until dirt stained my socks and sweat softened the bill of my cap.
I remember laughing for no reason and shouting for fun. Chasing ground balls and fly balls and bugs and just about anything else that was deemed worth chasing.
I think about diving into the grass over and over again, trying wholeheartedly to snag pop-ups that fell just out of reach. It wasn’t about the catch; it was about the leap and the fall. It was about the cushion that the cool, green earth somehow provided. That feeling of hitting the ground and caring about nothing else in the world besides getting up and doing it again.
When I think about all the things that I’ll look back upon as my life is coming to its close, terror and tragedy will not be among them. Regardless of the circumstances surrounding my demise, I’ll have images of laughter and happiness and love on my mind as I go. These are the things I can control, no matter how uncontrollable the moment in and of itself may be. In spite of what we’re facing at any given point in time, knowing there are these good things that fill us, that compel us, that bring us to muster the courage we may not otherwise be able to summon in that instant, makes all the difference in the world.
Whenever something we care so deeply about is threatened, we’re scarred in a way that can hardly be put into words. It doesn’t matter what that thing is, either; it could be anything. On this particular week, it happened to be some combination of sports and freedom and security and shreds of innocence and more. All things we cherish, all things that, when threatened, leave us scarred.
It’s that time of year again. Dance time. Formerly “Bigger” Dance time. But then some blowhard decided “Bigger Dance” was too close to “Big Dance” for the comfort of some asshole’s lawyer, so here we are with “The Dance.” As if this is like the shindig of the year at a local high school or something.
Anyway, enough about that. You need to fill out a Dance bracket and you’re looking for some help. That’s where I come in. I’m not an expert, but I do pride myself on being judgmental. As we’ve done here in the past, we’ll go through every single Dance matchup and give you a winner. From Game 1 to Game 64.
Right about now if you either a) need to fill out your Dance bracket at Sports Radio KJR or b) are just plain confused as to what all this is really about, please click here and achieve both a) and/or b). If you’d also like to join the SSN Dance pool, please navigate here and enter the following:
Pool Number: 678
To your left you’ll see a picture of a beautiful woman. That’s Lucy Pinder. She won this competition last year. There will be more pictures of beautiful women as you scroll down. Enjoy that. Maybe don’t read this at work, but enjoy it nonetheless. Without further ado…
Region 1: Chelada
Sofia Vergara vs. Alicia Keys
Just the other day I happened to be watching BET (they show reruns of Family Matters in the afternoon, in case you were wondering why) when I caught a showing of the movie Soul Plane. I’d never seen Soul Plane before, but wouldn’t you know it, one of the flight attendants for NWA Airlines was played by Sofia Vergara. So not only has she captured the Latino vote (naturally) and the white vote (Modern Family), but she also has the black vote. Even Alicia Keys isn’t that omnipresent. Winner: Vergara.
SSN Twitterbag: Antoine Winfield’s future, Mariner busts, the limit on what we’ll let fall in our beer, and more
It’s like a mailbag, but with Twitter. Because outside of work, no one sends emails anymore. To participate in future Twitterbags, look for the #SSNTwitterbag hashtag and follow along, @alexSSN.
Will Antoine Winfield sign [with the Seahawks]? -via @caseyc8
Winfield, a 35-year-old free agent cornerback just released by Minnesota, is one of the premier players at his position, even at this late stage in his career. A former All-Pro and three-time Pro Bowl honoree, Winfield reportedly worked out with the Seahawks just a few days ago.
To atone for my relative ignorance on Winfield’s contractual prospects, I went to one of the brightest football minds I know for some help. My buddy Curtis Crabtree (speaking of Twitter, follow him @Curtis_Crabtree) — who covers the Seahawks for Sports Radio KJR, as well as the west coast for ProFootballTalk — was able to provide some insight for us on the situation:
You gotta give Jenna Shea some credit. There may be no better time in history to call out Peyton Siva than in the midst of what we can only imagine to be his life’s crowning achievement to date. She saw her window and she jumped at the chance to gain a little notoriety. That’s the kind of enterprising spirit any media whore can appreciate.
For those who may have missed the interaction, here are the tweets that sparked a social media firestorm after Louisville’s National Championship victory:
— jenna shea (@iamjennashea) April 9, 2013
Morse has been a breath of fresh air for a team in need of just that, recording a hit in every single game thus far, leading both the M’s and the majors with five home runs (Atlanta’s Justin Upton currently has five home runs, as well), and bringing an infectious personality to a ballclub that has very much lacked infectious personalities over the past few years.
Morse’s hot start to the season has produced a number of intriguing statistics — anomalous and otherwise — that deserve to be highlighted. Math nerds get your abacuses (abaci?) ready.