I have to admit, I've always been team confused. Growing up in New Jersey, I felt like I should root for the Nets, but they totally sucked, so it was a bit like being a Clippers fan. The goto after that was the Knicks, but when from Jersey, they never really felt like they were ours. It's like being a Yankees fan when everyone in the Tri-State area knows that the Mets are the suburb's choice. It didn't help that my Grandfather, Dad, and everyone in my family who cared grew up watching the Celtics since the beginning of time.
So in the early 90s, when I moved to Seattle, I found my first real team. The Sonics were playing well, exciting to watch, and had just enough drama to keep a dude interested. Because, let's be honest, half the fun of the NBA is the drama. They had Ego-exploded Gary Payton, Mullet-sporting Detlef Schrempf, stoner Shawn Kemp and then even stonier Vin Baker to name a few. It was a good little era, and I jumped in. They also played games in the Key Arena, quite possibly the very last neighborhood-locked venue in the NBA. Those were some fun times, even if they did sadly co-exist with one of the best basketball teams in NBA history, the consistently trophy-blocking Chicago Bulls.
Moving to Los Angeles, I always kept an ear on the Sonics, but they began to blow pretty hard and were difficult to follow. Did I also mention I'm a fair-weather fan? Whose got time to spend a season watching a team with no chance of winning? I know many do, but I'd rather ride my bike. So by the time the whole scandal with their move went down, I was bummed, but also pretty out of the loop.
Then I watched the amazing movie detailing the move called Sonicsgate. Man o man, did it really hit one to the heart. It's hard to blame one person, because as one of the interviewed correctly states, "There are a lot of enemies in this story." It's pretty much the perfect storm of corporate franchise takeovers. So you can point a lot of fingers, but ultimately I'd have to blame the NBA for letting it happen.
If you haven't, you should really watch the movie. The basic premise is that a guy from Oklahoma buys the team in good faith that he'll try to keep it in Seattle. Though the whole time insisting he needs a new venue to make it "viable", which basically means, "If the arena isn't also a mall's worth of overpriced food, then we only make a ton of money, and not a triple s**t ton of money." He then ran the team into the ground causing the citizens to lose interest, and secured the OK from the league to move it. It turns out -- to no ones surprise -- that this was his plan all along. He not just moved, he stole. He owns everything that ever was about the Sonics, their history, jerseys and legacy, all stuffed into some basement in Oklahoma.
You could say, "poor Seattle" but that would be a narrow-minded summation of the whole situation. In the big picture, the NBA and David Stern have set a precedent that no team in any market is safe. There's no respect for the fans who had made it all happen in the first place, in this case for 41 years. Because all across America are these mid-level-and-growing cities that are looking to boost their image through franchise recognition. With so much to gain, they have so much to give, and the NBA is happy to take it.
So yuk it up about Seattle's misfortunes -- who in my opinion aren't going to get another team for a long, long time, regardless of what they believe. But keep an eye on your team, or if you happen to live in Sacramento, you just dodged a bullet for one more year before your Kings go to ... Anaheim? Exactly.
I'm glad I saw this movie though, because it really cleared the fog on why I've lost interest in basketball the past few years. Reading Red Auerbach's biography, you get a hyper-inspired account about a group of people with love for the game creating a unity -- and subsequently -- a phenomena in the NBA. Somewhere with time, greed or just David Stern himself, this has all been forgotten with franchises ending up nothing more than greedy call-girls looking for the next whale.
I supposed that's just the story with sports. It happened with the Dodgers and the Giants. It's happened countless times with countless other teams. But I suppose there comes a time when you have to express your opinion with your bank card, and for me that time seems to have arrived in the case of the NBA.