I wore a Sonics t-shirt yesterday. Grey. It’s my favorite shirt. I wear it every week. There’s a faded stain underneath the screen print that most people don’t notice. I get a little self-conscious about blemishes on my clothing, but this one doesn’t bother me so much.
I have a trash can in my room. It’s a Sonics trash can. Right now it’s lined with a plastic shopping bag from Target. This morning, I noticed the bag was obscuring the green-and-gold logo on the exterior. I rearranged the bag. I want people to see that logo when they walk in.
I have a hoop on my bedroom door. When I dunk on it, I’m Shawn Kemp. When I shoot jumpers, I’m Detlef. When I kiss it off the glass, I’m G.P. When I miss, I’m Sene.
I like to search “seattle sonics” on YouTube and see what comes up. I like to mutter “Suuuuuuuuuuuuuuupersonics” quietly under my breath when no one else is around. I get a little excited when I overhear names like “Eddie Johnson” in casual conversation.
I remember the first team I ever saw take on the Sonics in person at the Coliseum. The Dallas Mavericks. They were horrible. My dad took me. We bought a program. I cut out the pictures of the players when we got home, mostly because I was one of those kids who just liked to cut paper. Bart Kofoed was on the squad. Bart Kofoed. No one even knows who that is. I was seven.
My world came crashing down on July 2, 2008, the day Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels marched onto my TV screen and announced in jovial fashion that an agreement had been reached to let the Sonics — our Sonics — depart for another city. He laughed. That jerk laughed. Like he’d just won an award or something. It was like laughing at your significant other during the middle of a breakup. Do you not get the meaning of this moment, you moron? Do you not understand how f**king heartbroken we are? What the f**k is wrong with you? Why the f**k are you laughing? This is really happening. This is really over. This is really the end. And you’re laughing. You’re a jerk.
I was sad that day. We all deal with devastating news in our own unique way. Some people punch walls, or yell and scream. Some people break down and cry. Some people drink, or try to talk it out with their loved ones. I went through the rest of my day like a zombie. I let my head spin with thoughts while the afternoon played out in the background. I suppose that day was the first day I ever had enough fuel in my brain to lead me to create this website and start writing on a regular basis. That day was certainly important. But on that day, in that moment, I was plainly and simply sad.
It has been three years, seven months, and one week since our team was taken from us. One-thousand-three-hundred-seventeen days. Like being in prison. Over that length of time, we’ve been told “no” more often than we’ve been told “yes.” Will this year be the year we get an arena built? No. Will today be the day we approve funding? No. We’ve been teased by the prospect of new legislation, tickled by the thought of every hare-brained money-raising scheme that has been propositioned by entrepreneurs looking to have their names linked to heroics. It’s like Zack Morris has been running the show. There have been all sorts of zany plans to be had. It’s been a matter of making those zany plans work in the realm of sensibility, however. And to date, that hasn’t happened.
We’ve been duped in some ways. Led to believe by so many that hope was on the horizon. We’ve been let down time and again. We’ve been stuck in a relationship full of disappointment. We’ve been glum. We’ve shrugged our shoulders, hung our heads, kicked at pebbles, and moved on. And yet in spite of all that, we have not given up.
We sit here under grey skies for much of the year. We are an afterthought to much of the rest of the nation, if not a bit of a punch line. It rains in Seattle. They drink coffee in Seattle. They’re different in Seattle. Do they see the sunshine in Seattle? Do they ever have fun in Seattle? Do they still listen to grunge in Seattle? When was the last time any of those Seattle teams were any good? You know the Thunder, the Oklahoma City Thunder? They won a championship in 1979, when they were in Seattle.
We can slog through the rainy winters. We can handle the espresso one-liners and the jabs at our music scene. We might even chuckle along with you from time to time. But when it comes to the Sonics — the Seattle Supersonics, OUR Seattle Supersonics, the 1979 World Champion Seattle Supersonics — the laughter ceases. This was our baby that was kidnapped. We don’t joke about that. There is nothing funny about that. Our sense of humor only extends so far.
We have had MISSING posters hanging up for nearly four years now. We have had Clay Bennett and David Stern atop our local “Most Wanted” list. We have been waiting. We have been yearning. We have been pining and aching and agonizing. We need our team back. We need reason to believe. There are those who inspire and those in need of inspiration. We are the latter. We’ve been on a three-year, seven-month, one-week odyssey in search of the former.
It appears our quest may be coming to an end. There’s a guy. Chris Hansen is his name. Not that Chris Hansen. Not the guy from Dateline. We’re not catching any predators here. Businessman Chris Hansen. He has money. He bought underdeveloped land south of downtown Seattle. He intends to use it to build an arena.
There’s a partnership. The City of Seattle wants to work with Hansen on his building. They want to make this happen. The mayor, the city council members, they’re all making their rounds on the media circuit, trumpeting this cause that appears all but inevitable. It will happen, they’re telling us. It will get built. There will be a facility.
And as it gets constructed, as ground is broken on what used to be an industrial business park of some sort, a team will find its way back to the Emerald City. Our team. No matter who they are or where they hail from, they will be the Supersonics. Our Supersonics. The team we once lost.
There are logistics, of course. Nothing is even close to being finalized yet. We haven’t passed anything, or approved anything, or agreed upon much of anything. But for the first time in months, we’re being told something other than “No.” For the first time in months, we’re being told “Yes.”
We shouldn’t get our hopes up. We’ve been down this road before. We’ve been left standing at the altar one too many times. There’s a warning in there somewhere. And I hope you’ll ignore it.
I want to be excited about the Sonics again. I want you to be excited about the Sonics again. I want to wake up tomorrow and have a team. I want to wear my grey t-shirt and green hoodie and have my wardrobe get more than an amused grin from passers-by. I want that history back. I want that relevance back. I want to go to a game and sit in the rafters and watch the lights dim and have some baritone-voiced P.A. announcer recite a starting lineup to me.
I don’t want the diluted Clay Bennett version of our franchise we had that final season the Sonics were here. I want Squatch spinning down from the ceiling. I want a blimp floating around a sold-out crowd dropping envelopes on attendees. I want to yell at refs. I want twelve-minute quarters.
I want to go to that very first game back in town. I want to be there as they raise the number 40 and the number 20 high up into the nether reaches of our building. I want to tear up when they talk about everything we went through to get this team back. I want to view a highlight video featuring forty-one years of greatness, a video that will give me goosebumps every time I watch it from now until the day I die. I want to get stupid emotional over this thing that I love so damn much, however inexplicable that may be.
I want a lump in my throat when I hear the news that they’re coming back. I want to get chills. I want to put on my Gary Payton jersey and just stand there for a minute looking at it in the mirror. I want someone to tell me I’m acting like a little kid because I’m giddy with excitement. I want a pretty girl to roll her eyes at me, kiss me on the cheek, and accept my passion, understanding that this is just one of those little things I’ll never be able to live without.
I want to jump out of my seat when we throw down our first HOLYCRAPDIDYOUSEETHAT?! alley-oop. I want to wake up sore the next morning with my head aching because we celebrated a playoff victory the night before.
I want a championship. I’m selfish. I want us to win.
I want to look at the standings every day. I want to look at the stats every day. I want a cheesy bobblehead of a player I don’t care about. I want more stuff with our logo on it. I want to make fun of the Boom Squad because every one of those little bastards can dance better than me. I want a big budget halftime show, lasers, and a smoke machine. I want purists to sit there with me and lament the changing nature of the game. I want people to be pissed when we lose. I want to complain about our guys when they under-perform. I want to pay way too much for arena food and arena beer. I don’t even care that I could get better food and better beer for much cheaper elsewhere. I want that shitty food. I want that shitty beer. Because it comes with my basketball team. It comes with the Sonics. So it’s worth it. Without question, it is worth it.
This is my team. This is my team. You don’t understand. You don’t get it. This is the thing I love. This is the thing we love.
Screw it. I believe in this city. I believe in the heroes. I believe in the fans. I believe in the power of good. I believe it’s going to happen. I believe it. I’m saying this with a smile on my face. You can’t see it, but it’s there. I’m typing this and it’s there.
The Sonics are coming back.
It’s time to get excited.