I am a massive sports sentimentalist. Everytime I see video of that penalty kick against Uruguay and hear the commentator yell “ALOISIIIIIIIII” I get chills. The night Glenn Archer, Mark Ricciuto, James Hird and Anthony Koutoufides were honoured at the Brownlow Medal Count in 2007 I was bawling like a baby at their tribute videos. Screaming bloody murder all though the 2005 AFL grand final and again in 2006, with tears of joy coming at the Daniel Chick smother and watching Ben Cousins and Drew Banfield get their premiership medals. And let’s not get started with the basketball-related incidents which are by far way too numerous to mention, though I can’t resist a few. From the Perth Wildcats come from behind semi-final win on the Gold Coast last year en route to their fifth championship, pretty much any time I’m in the presence of Ricky Grace, and Derrick Rose’s MVP speech. I defy anyone to watch that and not tear up.
But the one issue that still and probably always will bring tears to my eyes at the mere mention of it is Seattle.
I’m sorry, as much as I love the Thunder and the passion that Oklahoma City has shown them in the last few years, it still saddens me to read about the love still in Seattle for the Sonics and how brutally their team was taken away from them. Seattle should never have lost their team. I got tears in my eyes when I read David Aldridge’s amazing piece (which thanks to the lockout and retooling of nba.com is impossible to find) last year about Seattle’s fans not giving up and they were still there this morning rereading about the Seattle Mariners honouring the Supersonics at their game on Friday with Gary Payton telling the crowd at the Mariners game that Seattle will get their team back.
Re-watching Sonicsgate: Requiem For A Team just kills me. I understand that the world of professional sporting teams goes far beyond what happens on court or the field, any NBA or NFL fan knows that by now especially this offseason. To own and operate a sporting franchise costs exorbitant amounts of money, and there probably aren’t enough Russian billionaires for everyone. But when the passion is there as it clearly is still in Seattle it’s just heartbreaking to watch.
Seattle is one of the biggest markets in America, one of the most populous cities whose only sporting championships remain the ones brought in by its basketball teams. The college scene is as strong as it’s ever been and the region has produced countless of the NBA’s best. The city’s WNBA team the Storm (who still rock Sonic colours) has brought home two championships and is as beloved as any of Seattle’s other teams As one of the major markets in America it’s becoming farcical that there is no team in Seattle while the League struggles to hold onto teams in Sacramento and New Orleans (though I am in no way suggesting the Kings or Hornets should be relocated!).
It’s so amazing to see in the midst of all the lockout nonsense that pure love of the game still exists in the heart of every Sonics fan that has by now forgiven the league (though perhaps not Clayton Bennett, at least not yet and not with Kevin Durant AKA the Sonics’ draft pick running wild) and simply wants to see that green and gold running rampant through Seattle once again. In a perfect world, no-one would lose their teams and the league would be able to expand to include teams in Seattle, Kansas City, Las Vegas and Vancouver. And maybe with enough cajoling Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer can give Seattle an arena and then bring the Sonics (and the franchise’s history that is somehow still attached to the Oklahoma City Thunder) home.
I can only imagine the reception on the first night the Thunder come to town!