If you would have told me on July 2nd, 2008 that in four years, two months, and nine days, Seattle would be celebrating the Supersonics, I would have laughed at you. The Supersonics were gone, taken from us on that very day. And September 11th, 2012? It was a date so distant, so irrelevant to anything more than, well, you know, and so seemingly non sequitur to NBA basketball that it would have made absolutely no sense to me whatsoever.
If you would have told me on July 2nd, 2008, that four years, two months, and nine days in the future, I’d be celebrating along with a community of passionate, tight-knit, basketball-loving, Sonics freaks, I’d have scoffed. Because on that day, way back when, we weren’t that. None of us. We were just…individuals. Who had been hurt. Badly. And didn’t know what to do with our introverted pain.
If you would have told me on July 2nd, 2008 that our community would grow closer over those four years, two months, and nine days, I wouldn’t have believed you. Seattle sports fans had scattered amidst the wreckage of a professional basketball franchise departing our region, distanced ourselves from one another as nearly every one of our local teams staggered to finish their respective seasons of misfortune, and grown apart while losing divided us. We didn’t know what to do with ourselves. Our situation was miserable. We were miserable. And nobody wants to share misery with the equally miserable. So we wallowed alone, miserably.
If you would have told me on July 2nd, 2008 that anger and determination would replace misery, that we would get mad — not sad — over what had become of us, that we would fight, relentlessly, to get our team back, I would have raised an eyebrow. Curious? Yes. Doubtful? Maybe. Intrigued? Definitely. How would it happen? Why would it happen? Would we have any reason to make it happen? There wasn’t much hope on the horizon that day. And without hope, without belief in a destined outcome, there is no reason to spend one’s energy striving for something greater. On that day, in that moment we had our hearts torn to shreds against the backdrop of an inept city council giggling over whatever it was they found amusing about such a downright shitty situation, we had nothing greater to strive for. We were upset. But we didn’t know what to do about it.
And then, over the course of four years, two months, and nine days, everything began to change.
We have become accustomed to fighting for the Seattle Supersonics since July 2nd, 2008. It’s second nature to us now. We wax poetically about a basketball team that we absolutely loved. We blast those people — absolutely blast them — who speak ill of our misfortune, who chafe at our zealousness, who can’t seem to grasp why the hell we continue to battle the masses to bring back a franchise that they deem “defunct.” Defunct means dead. Defunct means forgotten. The Sonics may have left temporarily, but they are not dead or forgotten.
We are stronger now than we were then. Think about it. Think about all the people you’ve gotten to know in the past four years, two months, and nine days. Think about the common bonds you share. And think about how the Sonics, supposedly defunct, play into those relationships you have. I have friends I’ve made solely because of the Seattle Supersonics. And maybe I always had that; I likely did. But now, in the absence of that very thing that bred friendships, it’s become even more apparent that an entire relationship can flourish around the memory of a basketball team. And in turn, around the faith we have in resurrecting that team anew.
I’ve benefited directly because of the Seattle Supersonics. You probably have, too. Seattle City Councilman Nick Licata once stated that the Sonics held “near zero” cultural value. Over the course of four years, two months, and nine days, he’s backtracked on those comments significantly. He knows he was wrong. We knew he was wrong. And when you think about the value, as a whole, of a community staple like the Sonics, examine your life and see where that team — or really any sports team, for that matter — has impacted you. I can point to specific examples of good things in my life today that would not exist if the Seattle Supersonics had never existed. And I’d imagine that you can do that, as well.
In those four years, two months, and nine days, a savior has emerged, inspired by his community, and has become the figurehead of this mission to bring back our Sonics. Chris Hansen has been at the forefront of a new arena deal, has been the face of the fight, has been our Paul Revere, and has brought all our hopes and all our faith to fruition. If you ask him, though, he’ll point the finger the other way. Sure, he has the money to back the cause, but this is a community effort. He wouldn’t be doing this without us. He wouldn’t be here without us. He wouldn’t have been this patient, this dedicated, if Seattle wasn’t behind him. He believes in us. And us? We believe in him.
So now what? We have an arena deal in place. We have the funding in place. We have everyone’s approval. But this fight isn’t over.
We need a team. We’ll get a team.
We need players. We’ll get players.
We need a championship. We’ll get a championship.
Everything seems possible right now. And frankly, it is. We’ve proven it to be possible thus far. We’ll continue to do so.
It has been four years, two months, and nine days since we started over. We’ve made undeniable progress today. We’re almost there. And we’ll keep up the fight. But for right now, we take a moment to celebrate. Because what we have done to this point is flat-out amazing. We’re a special community. Most communities wouldn’t do this. They wouldn’t fight for what they love as viciously as we have. Every fan has played a part in bringing us to this point. And every fan deserves credit for preserving that hope we’ve all shared.
We are absolutely great, Seattle. We’re doing it. We’re really doing it. We are bringing back the Sonics. And I gotta tell you, it feels…amazing.