I’ll never forget the first time I ever witnessed one of my favorite sports teams endure a bitter, unexpected defeat. The date was May 7th, 1994. It was a Saturday and I was at a friend’s house. He was the catcher on our Little League team, the Orioles, and I was one of two pitchers on the squad. We’d played a game that morning, and immediately after we went back to his place to watch basketball.
Our beloved Sonics played the Denver Nuggets that afternoon, game five of the NBA’s Western Conference First Round Playoffs. The series was tied at two games apiece. Seattle had taken an early 2-0 series lead with the home court advantage. Games three and four, however, went to the Nuggets in the altitude of the Mile High City. A return to the Pacific Northwest signaled the final bout of the five-game matchup. As the number-one overall seed, the Sonics should have easily dispatched the lowly Nuggets, winners of just 42 contests in the regular season. And yet on this particular day, it wasn’t meant to be.