For the Love of the Supersonics


There is no foolishness like that borne from love. Love blinds us, weakens our souls, cripples our ability to think clearly. We can’t reason when in love. We fail to rationalize. We are at the mercy of a knee-buckling, heart-fluttering, lip-quivering emotion. We’re happy, sad, angry, elated, and deflated all at once. Love, without question, is the most painfully thrilling sentiment of an otherwise immaterial existence.

Perhaps equally as absurd as love, itself, is the notion that our inferior beating hearts could be bamboozled into dedicating such a powerful feeling to an entity as impassive as a ball. A stupid ball. That bounces and bounces until it is launched at a cylinder outfitted with cloth netting, then bounces some more.

There are those of us silly enough to lend our affection to that object and all it entails. The rules that come along with it, the game played at its disposal, the attire worn in its vicinity, and above all else, the teams that form to compete for its mastery.

We adore the teams. They embody so much more than a sport, symbolizing what matters most to us, our hometowns, our identity, capsules of our very being. We pledge allegiance to colors and logos and nicknames that convey forces of nature and untamed beasts. At times, recreation becomes secondary to the satisfaction that comes with being part of an exclusive social club associated with an equally exclusive athletic club. The relationship is cyclical. We represent them as they represent us, showing up for one another in our respective realms. That rapport, founded in mutual devotion, is the essence of true endearment, the epitome of love.

It almost goes without saying, then, that the heartbreak of losing a connection of such epic magnitude is not insignificant. The human spirit doesn’t stop on a dime. It does not turn on and off at the flip of a switch. We cannot reasonably go from pouring pure desire into a vessel of any kind, only to see that vessel sail away in the blink of an eye. It doesn’t work like that. We mourn loss. We cope with it and handle it in our own unique ways. We don’t always heal. And we rarely forget.

It could be anything. A person, a pet, a possession. For many of us in Seattle, it’s as petty and inconsequential as a basketball team that drags with it one of those inane force-of-nature monikers: Supersonics.

The Seattle Supersonics. We love them. We can’t help it. They meant something to those of us who laid eyes upon their vibrant green-and-gold garb and imagined donning it ourselves one day. We dressed in officially licensed replica gear as a precursor to exaggerated dreams that blossomed in our feverish imaginations. We emulated the aesthetics of our idols, right down to the leaning, right-handed wrist flick of Gary Payton’s shooting form.

We built up four decades’ worth of fondness for the Sonics, only to have them ripped away from the fabric of our community eight years ago. It’s a story that has been told and retold countless times. No need to rehash the tragic details. The fact is, we had something taken from us that we truly cared about. The pain doesn’t just go away.

We cope, which means we dissolve into a puddle of melted mush every time the possibility of our team’s return resurfaces. We’re suckers for hope, no matter how often it rises and falls, taking our hearts on a veritable roller coaster ride along the way. Maybe this time, we reason – until this time becomes next time and we begin again.

So why is this time any different?

It’s a fair question. We’ve had far too many this times already. We’ve been used as a bargaining chip, then used some more. We’ve had local government pick us up by the seat of our pants and punt us into a valley of dejection. We’ve been lied to, deceived, tricked, conned, and misled. Through it all, though, one thing has remained steadfast: the man behind the plan.

He has never wavered. Not once. For five years, he has stayed loyal to fans of a franchise that exists only as a distant memory. Perhaps because he is one of us, a helpless fanatic. Perhaps because, like us, he is a Seattleite, himself. Perhaps because he is simply among the most stubborn, dedicated individuals on the face of the earth.

How else do you explain such commitment? Any other wealthy, white-collar opportunist would have jumped ship long ago. This isn’t about money. Not after all the shit he’s been through. Like Marshawn Lynch plowing through every unfortunate sonofabitch standing between him and a touchdown, he has ran over, past, and through every single opponent who has attempted to keep him from a goal we all share: bring back our Sonics.

Now, at a time when nearly all hope has been lost, he has upped the ante in his quest for our shared objective. He will do it himself. He will foot the bill for the cost of an entire arena, for the place our Supersonics will once again call home. And if that weren’t enough, he’ll solve a fifty-year-old problem for our city by repairing nearby infrastructure, a cherry on top for those who have vehemently opposed him all along.

It makes almost no sense. Who does this? What kind of individual continues to fight such a seemingly futile battle? Not a single Sonics fan would have blamed him for exiting gracefully, defeated, long before this. Instead, he has continually risen to his feet, throwing haymakers in the process. He has offered gifts, only to be coldly turned away by those in the political spectrum. Rather than depart insulted, as most of us would, he has returned with bigger, better gifts.

He might as well be a saint. A demigod, exalted beyond typical human measure.

Chris Hansen. Chris Motherfucking Hansen. God bless him, we don’t deserve him, but here he is anyway.

How do you do it? How do you put love into words? Some say it can’t be done, that only actions can fully exude what the term truly means.

If that happens to be the case, then one thing is clear. Chris Hansen loves the city of Seattle, its people, and the one thing that so many of us love, ourselves: the Supersonics.

He has proven time and again that there will be a next time. But maybe, just maybe, this time.

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