There will come a day that our Supersonics triumph over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
There will come a day that those beloved Supersonics, Seattle’s own, will win this city its second NBA championship.
But until then, we just sit here. In pain, mostly. Because for every ounce of effort we pour into building a brand new facility that will host those days that will come, for every speck of energy we devote to rallying the masses to call out the name of a temporarily-inconvenienced basketball team, for every shred of our collective hearts we exhaust on emotion for those memories the past has given to us, we often find ourselves at the mercy of the reality of the here and now.
When they win, we curse. When they win, we pout. When they win, we wish bad things upon those winning winners. When they win, we reduce ourselves to juveniles crying on the playground. There is nothing beautiful or respectable or empowering about us, about the deposed losers, when they win. When they win, they can laugh at our plight and shout “Scoreboard!” That’s fine. They have that right. When they win, they have incredible leverage. When they win, it’s their opportunity to make us look like poor sports.
But we do it anyway. All of it. Because we hurt. And when you hurt, you say and do things that might not make you look your best. When you hurt, rationality ceases to surface in the forefront of your brain. You’re an emotional wreck when you hurt. We all are. No one ever got dumped by a perceived loved one and in that moment of impending separation said to themselves, “Yes, this all makes sense right now.” To my knowledge, that hasn’t happened yet. When our hearts are bludgeoned and battered, bruised and broken, we resort to shadows of the most impressive versions of ourselves. We are human. We aren’t perfect.
There are constant reminders of that hurt. They’re brought up every time we see those winners on our television sets. When we witness the exuberance of their fans, the unadulterated joy of their following, the gleeful adulation of their very own when they conquer a hapless foe, we are reminded of what we once had. We’re reminded of what was taken from us. We’re reminded of how we were duped and how we were robbed. How did this happen? Why did this happen? We would like to move on, but we can’t. There are so many God-forsaken reminders of the past that won’t go away. They plague us, gnaw at us, twist us into a state of perennial discomfort, a state of never-ending anger. We were ROBBED! Doesn’t that mean anything to anybody?! Why can’t they understand that? Why won’t they understand that? Why don’t they care? Or do they care? It doesn’t matter. We just want them to feel what we feel. To hurt like we hurt. We want the bad guys to go down with us. We crave that. If we can’t win, why should they get to win? And why should he get to win?
There is a way that you go about your business. In this case, it is that way he went about his business that kills us. It is the very thing that hurts us more than any other. It would be one thing if he had waltzed into town, looked us in the eye, and told us he was taking our team. There would be a certain dignity in the way he went about it. A distinct honesty that would force us to grit our teeth and put up a fight that, hope against hope, we felt we could win.
But no. He rode into town on a wave of deceit. He sat in front of our TV cameras, in audience with our media members, before our skeptical eyes…and lied to us. He did that bad thing we are raised never to do. You make mistakes. We all make mistakes. You may make BIG mistakes. We ALL make BIG mistakes. You may find yourself in tough situations, because we all do. But no matter the circumstances, you do not lie.
Why would you do that? Why would you do it like that? Why would you put yourself in that position — that position to be the most villainous of villains? Why would you make yourself the target of so much venom, so much hate? Why would you turn so many people — hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people — against you? And for what? For something you already had in your possession, something that by virtue of Howard Schultz’s cowardly act of betrayal already belonged to you. Why would you do that? Why would you do THAT? Why would you sacrifice your word for your own property? You owned it. You owned our team. And you had the right to do what you wanted with it. And you lied to us. You lied to so many of us. Because you’re weak. Because you lack any semblance of whatever it takes to be better than that.
We won’t get over this. There are too many of us who know someone just like you. You represent the guy in the office who gets the promotion when he lays claim to our hard work. You’re the former buddy who moves in on our girlfriend, then snatches her up when we’re not looking. You’re the cold-hearted spawn of Satan who murders that thing we love.
There is business. And they say it shouldn’t be personal. And they may be right about that. There are apologists who will always make the argument that what Clay Bennett did was just business. But are they right about that? No. Business is investing in something and doing what you want with it. It becomes personal when you pull the rug out from under your opponents, driving a steel blade into their back as they fall to the earth. Business doesn’t have to be that way, even in the most hostile of takeovers. So what he did wasn’t just business. It was personal. It was horrible.
There will always be those outsiders who roll their eyes at our plight or scoff at our passion over what may seem to them like an insignificant cause. These are the same people who might find themselves snickering at a crowd of mourners in the wake of human tragedy. We aren’t whole. We’re trying to get there, but we’re nowhere near where we want to be. Not yet. With every win those winning winners rack up, another small piece of us wilts like a rose petal under the summer sun. With every shrill shriek of excitement roared in the bowels of that utterly adequate arena they call home in the middle of a state we know nothing about, we wince.
And every time they show his face to the millions watching around the world, clapping and cheering like a square-headed moron, more diabolically brilliant than that simpleton look on his crusty, tilted mug would ever let on — every time that happens — we boil.
There will come a day when we are healed. When the world, where Seattleites are concerned, isn’t flipped upside-down in some bizarro universe where our Supersonics fail to exist. With each passing minute, that day becomes closer to a reality. We anxiously await that glorious day.
But until that day arrives…
Fuck those winning winners and their lying, evil, no-good, bastard of an owner.