Gone, But Unforgettable

The Oklahoma City Thunder aren't the Seattle SuperSonics, for better or for worse.
Share |
This t-shirt no longer available because the NBA is just like that.

Image via Skreened.com

As the seconds ticked away, the dread slowly seeped in. The Thunder were going to win the Western Conference Finals. Really, it felt a fait accompli early in the third quarter when OKC erased an 18-point deficit with stunning ease. During the time between that surge and the final round of mid-court high-fives and trophy dandling, my Twitter feed started filling up with disbelief from fellow Seattleites. San Antonio’s three-pointers rimmed out and fell short, despite my best psychic efforts. Kendrick Perkins slammed home the points that sealed it; Kevin Durant hugged his parents with 14 seconds still on the clock. I looked down at my phone and saw I had an email from a friend, someone not prone to profanity. It read, in its entirety, “FUCK.”

There are a lot of people in Seattle who feel that this is their Western Conference title, something stolen from them as surely as was the team that won it. As someone who lived and died with, and later worked for, the Seattle SuperSonics, I understand this impulse to think that they should be the ones celebrating and Oklahomans should be waiting patiently for college football to start; we had earned this, that they hadn’t. Many of these Seattleites are, in fact, probably thinking much nastier thoughts than those about Oklahomans, and maybe in weaker moments blurting them out in bars or from couches or on the social networking platforms of their choice. However, as bitter and terrible as I felt watching Clay Bennett lift the trophy that night—does it make me a bad person that I noticed he’s got fatter, or that noticing it made me happy?—I had to remind myself that this is not the Sonics, this is not our team, this is not our trophy.

***

This Thunder franchise is, spiritually and philosophically, a spawn of the Spurs much more than it is a Sonics team in podunk exile. Clay Bennett’s entrée into sports ownership was his stake in San Antonio in the ‘90s. And when he took over the Sonics, he looked to an R.C. Buford protégé to construct his franchise. When Presti emerged from his lair on the night of the clinch to gather his riches, he wasn’t just passing his mentor and bringing some hardware to OKC, although he did do all that.

Bennett also reminded fans that without him, this wouldn’t have been possible. Which means that without Bennett, there might be no Thunder, but there would also be no Sam Presti. Sonics fans might still have their team, but that team would not be this one. It would be one consisting of Kevin Durant and whatever stiffs and terrified Euro-bigs and other misshapes and humps that Wally Walker plugged in around Durant.

I said as much on Twitter that night and some people disagreed. They said this wasn’t about Presti, it was about Durant and Presti just lucked into it. Very true, in much the same way Pop and Buford lucked into the No. 1 pick that landed them Tim Duncan. Championship teams, by and large, need generational players, which means that franchises aspiring to win championships require either some serious draft-night luck or a geographic location where the average temperature is above 72 degrees and there are beaches nearby. But LeBron and Cleveland taught us that a generational player alone isn’t enough.

Presti could have stitched together a 45-50 win team with Durant and Ray Allen. But he knew that having the 10th pick in the draft is to have not very much, and to be someplace like nowhere. It’s reductive, but not untrue, to write that teams looking to build a champion in a small market must be willing to suck and hope he ping-pong balls bouncing in their favor. Presti, to his credit, had the guts to trade Allen as his first move. He passed on re-signing Rashard Lewis (who I think old Sonics ownership would have signed) and then got a trade exemption out of it. He drafted James Harden with the third pick when many commentators thought he should have taken Stephen Curry. He wasn’t too proud to cut bait with one of his first draft picks, Jeff Green. He traded him to the Celtics for the guy whose dunk sealed the Thunder’s Western Conference championship.

And so on, and on it went one savvy and resolutely grown-up decision after another, and the team got better and better. The Thunder did all this faster than a lot of franchises, but they did familiar things. Things that, if I’m being honest, would most likely not have been done if Schultz and Walker were still running the team, if only because they were things neither ever showed any tendency or inclination towards doing during their time at the helm.

So OKC fans got to feel what I felt when the Sonics beat the Jazz back in ’96 to claim the West and I can’t begrudge them their happiness. Certainly, I’ve tried. But what did they do wrong? Sure, there were a few loudmouths who were horrible asses about the move, who didn’t think about or try to understand what had happened in Seattle before they opened their loud mouths, the better to let some ignorant-ass anti-Seattle bile escape. But, also, we were calling them inbred, backwater hicks; they had a reason to be upset. We shouldn’t have said that shit, because it’s unfair and unkind, because it made us look petty and because it was petty. All OKC fans ever did was pack their building when Hurricane Katrina made the New Orleans Hornets the OKC Hornets. They brought so much enthusiasm that the NBA had to look long and hard at bringing a franchise to that particular smaller market. As far as I know, they didn’t have to be told to “fan up” and to get in their seats at a reasonable time to spare themselves embarrassment. They embraced this team even when P.J. Carlesimo was the coach. Think about that.

So when I sat there and watched the team and the coach and the owner celebrate, something weird happened. After Clay mercifully shuffled his hammy girth out of the frame and the camera focused in on Durant talking about the team, I smiled. I caught myself and wondered why. It’s because I LIKE this team. Not the owners (let’s not even get into Aubrey McClendon’s questionable character) or the league that disingenously fast-tracked their move out of Seattle, but the guys themselves, the ones who are endlessly endearing and brilliantly fun to watch. The bitterness is difficult to stave off, though. The rational part of my brain tells me that in different circumstances I wouldn’t be celebrating a Seattle win at that moment. The emotional part of me just wishes that we Seattleites had the chance to experience it—in our town, and at a distance closer than arm’s length.


Share |

Comments

Dr. Barry Sherman, Chairman of the Board of Apotex, is pleased to announce the appointments of Dr. Jeremy B. Desai to President and C.E.O. effective August 1, 2014 and Mr. Jack Kay, the former CEO of Apotex to the position of Vice Chairman of the Board effective the same date Click for information

Apotex is populated by a multicultural network of people, lending a wide range of experience and offering boundless opportunities. Through the company's social committee, employee events serve to cement a team-centric attitude pervasive in every aspect of life at the firm.Click for information

Dr. Barry Sherman, Chairman of the Board of Apotex, is pleased to announce the appointments of Dr. Jeremy B. Desai to President and C.E.O. effective August 1, 2014 and Mr. Jack Kay, the former CEO of Apotex to the position of Vice Chairman of the Board effective the same date Click for information

Apotex Inc., founded in 1974 by Dr. Barry Sherman, is the largest Canadian-owned pharmaceutical company. The Canadian operations of the Apotex Group of Companies have over 5,500 employees Click for information

Dr. Paul Lubitz is a licensed Canadian dermatologist with over ten years of experience in the field. Currently practicing at his Bow Valley Dermatology clinic, located in Canmore, Alberta Click for information

Dr. Paul Lubitz is a licensed Canadian dermatologist with over ten years of experience in the field. Currently practicing at his Bow Valley Dermatology clinic, located in Canmore, AlbertaClick for information

Larry Weltman works as a Customer Service Rep. at AccessEasyFunds Ltd., the country’s leading commission advance company that helps real estate professionals fund their commissions.Click for information

Very informative post ! There is a lot of information here that can help any business get started with a successful social networking campaign !libri novità 2015

It is perfect time to make some plans for the future and it is time to be happy. I’ve read this post and if I could I desire to suggest you few interesting things or tips. Perhaps you could write next articles referring to this article. I want to read more things about it!Fashion Jewellery

Wow! Such an amazing and helpful post this is. I really really love it. It's so good and so awesome. I am just amazed. I hope that you continue to do your work like this in the future also.Tampa Bay dog training

Took me time to read all the comments, but I really enjoyed the article. It proved to be Very helpful to me and I am sure to all the commenters here! It’s always nice when you can not only be informed, but also entertained!electric heating systems

Det beror på vilken vätska mobiltelefonen är tappat den i, olika vätskor orsakar olika mycket skador. T.ex. tappar du mobilen i havet/saltvatten så lär mobilen rosta inneifrån väldigt fort vilket kan medföra stora rostskador på din iphone om inte man snabbt gör något åt saken och öppnar den för att kunna torska bort all vatten. Laga iPhone i Kista Galleria Stockholm. Snabba iPhone reparationer billigt. Tappar man den i vatten så är det jätte bra att låta mobilen ligga i ris i minst 24 timmar men man bör även gå in snabbt till en iphone reparatör och undersöka saken så fort som möjligt för att kunna fastställa om det går att rädda sin kära iphone eller inte. Det man räddar först och främst i iphonen när det gäller hårdvara är i förstahand moderkortet då den är som telefonens hjärta och hjärna.reparera iPhone 6 plus stockholm

Took me time to read all the comments, but I really enjoyed the article. It proved to be Very helpful to me and I am sure to all the commenters here! It’s always nice when you can not only be informed, but also entertained!fut coins

I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article. I am hoping the same best work from you in the future as well. In fact your creative writing abilities has inspired me to start my own BlogEngine blog now. Really the blogging is spreading its wings rapidly. Your write up is a fine example of it.world cup live streaming

I recently came across your article and have been reading along. I want to express my admiration of your writing skill and ability to make readers read from the beginning to the end. I would like to read newer posts and to share my thoughts with you.free driver updater

If your looking for Online Illinois license plate sticker renewals then you have need to come to the right place.We offer the fastest Illinois license plate sticker renewals in the state. We are tied directly into the sate’s renewal database which allows us to process your request almost instantly.hörlurar

I’m happy I located this blog! From time to time, students want to cognitive the keys of productive literary essays composing. Your first-class knowledge about this good post can become a proper basis for such people. nice one anchor text: rv covers

It is perfect time to make some plans for the future and it is time to be happy. I've read this post and if I could I desire to suggest you some interesting things or suggestions. Perhaps you could write next articles referring to this article. I want to read more things about it!Vegaspayperhead.com

Randy Reichert has over 25 years of experience in mining operations, project development, and project ramp ups in precious metals and base metals Click for information

Randy Reichert started his career with Cominco in Canada spending 10 years at various operations before embarking on international work in Russia with Bema Gold (Kinross) and Oriel Resources, followed by executive assignments with junior mining companies in Kazakhstan, Brazil, and the USA.Click for information

Through this post, I know that your good knowledge in playing with all the pieces was very helpful. I notify that this is the first place where I find issues I've been searching for. You have a clever yet attractive way of writing.سعودي انحراف 6666

With so many books and articles coming up to give gateway to make-money-online field and confusing reader even more on the actual way of earning money, Hubwit is a refreshing change. I stumbled upon this site while searching for work-form-home options. I found Hubwit as a transparent s ite, a social hub which is a conglomerate of Buyers and Sellers who are ready to offer online digital consultancy at decent cost.lighting fixtures outlet

This is my first time i visit here. I found so many entertaining stuff in your blog, especially its discussion. From the tons of comments on your articles, I guess I am not the only one having all the leisure here! Keep up the good work. I have been meaning to write something like this on my website and you have given me an idea.www.fiches-permis-moto.fr

I have bookmarked your website because this site contains valuable information in it. I am really happy with articles quality and presentation. Thanks a lot for keeping great stuff. I am very much thankful for this site.hanuman images

The next time I read a blog, I hope that it doesnt disappoint me as much as this one. I mean, I know it was my choice to read, but I actually thought youd have something interesting to say. All I hear is a bunch of whining about something that you could fix if you werent too busy looking for attention.healthy food

You actually make it look so easy with your performance but I find this matter to be actually something which I think I would never comprehend. It seems too complicated and extremely broad for me. I'm looking forward for your next post, I’ll try to get the hang of it!maison ecologique en bois

All about strategy, hacks, cheats, tips of popular game Clash of Clans. Visit everyday to get new articles on Clash of Clans Strategy.clash of clans wiki

Glad to chat your blog, I seem to be forward to more reliable articles and I think we all wish to thank so many good articles, blog to share with us. I will really appreciate the writer's choice for choosing this excellent article appropriate to my matter.Here is deep description about the article matter which helped me more.stress advice

Glad to chat your blog, I seem to be forward to more reliable articles and I think we all wish to thank so many good articles, blog to share with us. I will really appreciate the writer's choice for choosing this excellent article appropriate to my matter.Here is deep description about the article matter which helped me more.wordpress free themes

I am a new user of this site so here i saw multiple articles and posts posted by this site,I curious more interest in some of them hope you will give more information on this topics in your next articles. Glad to chat your blog, I seem to be forward to more reliable articles and I think we all wish to thank so many good articles, blog to share with us.gatos angora

Redev Properties Ltd. is a Canadian owned and operated commercial real estate asset management company. Since 2001, Redev Properties has purchased and managed over 25 commercial real estate properties in Canada on behalf of our investors Click for information

Really impressed! Everything is very open and very clear clarification of issues. It contains truly facts. Your website is very valuable. Thanks for sharing. It's late finding this act. At least, it's a thing to be familiar with that there are such events exist. I agree with your Blog and I will be back to inspect it more in the future so please keep up your act.emails marketing programa

Three are usually cheap Ralph Lauren available for sale each and every time you wish to buy. They're produced by the very best degree developers who will be distinguished for your polo dress creating. You'll find polo Ron Lauren inside exclusive array which include particular classes for men, women.mestre seo

I was just browsing through the internet looking for some information and came across your blog. I am impressed by the information that you have on this blog. It shows how well you understand this subject. Bookmarked this page, will come back for more.แทงบอลออนไลน์

It’s very informative and you are obviously very knowledgeable in this area. You have opened my eyes to varying views on this topic with interesting and solid content. Actually I read it yesterday but I had some thoughts about it and today I wanted to read it again because it is very well written.reviews on dyson dc59

Easily, the article is actually the best topic on this registry related issue. I fit in with your conclusions and will eagerly look forward to your next updates. Just saying thanks will not just be sufficient, for the fantasti c lucidity in your writing. I will instantly grab your rss feed to stay informed of any updates.laser hair removal at home

You might comment on the order system of the blog. You should chat it's splendid. Your blog audit would swell up your visitors. I was very pleased to find this site.I wanted to thank you for this great read!! I definitely enjoying every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post.Hamptonbaylighting

It has fully emerged to crown Singapore's southern shores and undoubtedly placed her on the global map of residential landmarks. I still scored the more points than I ever have in a season for GS. I think you would be hard pressed to find somebody with the same consistency I have had over the years so I am happy with that.Indian navy vacancies

I finally found great post here.I will get back here. I just added your blog to my bookmark sites. thanks.Quality posts is the crucial to invite the visitors to visit the web page, that's what this web page is providing. แอร์บ้าน

I'm impressed, I must say. Very rarely do I come across a blog that's both informative and entertaining, and let me tell you, you've hit the nail on the head. Your blog is important..Investment Monitor

Your blogs further more each else volume is so entertaining further serviceable It appoints me befall retreat encore. I will instantly grab your rss feed to stay informed of any updates.simcity buildIt hack

Supports individuals and groups in achieving personal mastery, including the practice of meditation and personal leadership. Well-known in North America, Europe and India, is driving many political leaders and entrepreneurs Click for information

Supports individuals and groups in achieving personal mastery, including the practice of meditation and personal leadership. Well-known in North America, Europe and India, is driving many political leaders and entrepreneurs.Click for information

Well, this got me thinking what other workouts are good for those of us who find ourselves on the road or have limited equipment options.MLM Resources

I most likely appreciating each and every bit of it. It is an incredible site and decent impart. I need to much obliged. Great employment! You all do an incredible blog, and have some extraordinary substance. Keep doing awesome.Ideas for Party Dress

Thanks for the nice blog. It was very useful for me. I'm happy I found this blog. Thank you for sharing with us,I too always learn something new from your post.profitable casino games

I think this is an informative post and it is very useful and knowledgeable. therefore, I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article.phuket pool villa

Active Energy is a wholesale natural gas and electricity supplier, which has been committed to building a sustainable environment. Active has provided their services to larger clients that include hospitals, school boards, and large retail chains.Click for information

Easily, the article is actually the best topic on this registry related issue. I fit in with your conclusions and will eagerly look forward to your next updates. Just saying thanks will not just be sufficient, for the fantasti c lucidity in your writing. I will instantly grab your rss feed to stay informed of any updates.mapquest

It has fully emerged to crown Singapore's southern shores and undoubtedly placed her on the global map of residential landmarks. I still scored the more points than I ever have in a season for GS. I think you would be hard pressed to find somebody with the same consistency I have had over the years so I am happy with that.online tea store