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

Pleasant to be going to your site once more, it has been months for me. Well this article i've been sat tight for so long. I require this article to finish my task in the school, and it has same point with your article. Much obliged, extraordinary offer. kristoffer

Have a big thanks to you! It sounds great not only I liked this, but also everybody will appreciate you on your nice efforts.
Chris Walker - Denver SEO consulting

Here you will learn what is important, it gives you a link to an interesting web page: งานพิเศษทำที่บ้าน

This substance is composed exceptionally well. Your utilization of organizing when mentioning your focuses makes your objective facts clear and straightforward. Much obliged to you. mikrowelle tests

Along with the ingredients, the lotion feels VERY rich, and also heals cracked skin (a very very nice added bonus). The cream also contains botanical oils which nourishes your skin, and leaves it overall very clean and fresh. This is just one of the 11 ingredients, which helps grow your beard in a very lovely manner. beard growth cream

They believe that if they hire a web designer and spend $5000 to $15,000 on a beautiful design, the Google Gods will magically start sending web traffic their way. This sounds perfect in theory, but is there any truth to this in reality? topseobrisbane.com/

I'm gladsome to mature so more serviceable and informative assemblage on your website. car cover

Enormous blog you individuals have made there, I entirely appreciate the work.
rent roll off dumpsters

I am trusting the same best exertion from you later on also. Indeed your exploratory writing abilities has propelled me. accurate psychics

The thinking piece of my wit tells me that in contrastive circumstances I wouldn't be celebrating a Metropolis win at that instant. The maudlin move of me just wishes that we Seattleites had the measure to receive it-in our town, and at a interval finisher than arm's size. click tracking

I react why different professionals don't attending your website often m cheerful I constitute this. Jumbo Box Braids HairStyles

I must obliged this is great web journal. best-pet-links.com/revolution-review/

Decent post. I was checking continually this web journal and I am awed! To a great degree accommodating data exceptionally the last part I tend to such information a considerable measure. I was looking for this specific data for quite a while. Much obliged to you and good fortunes. create your meditation space

Buy backlinks 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 Dofollow Blog Comments

I don’t think many of websites provide this type of information. Seo | Weebly

You rock for sharing us about this redesign. Trust you won't get tired on making posts as instructive as this. online casino

I was surfing net and fortunately came across this site and found very interesting stuff here. Its really fun to read. I enjoyed a lot. Thanks for sharing this wonderful information. Best undercounter ice maker review

This is truly a decent and educational, containing all data furthermore greatly affects the new innovation. A debt of gratitude is in order for sharing it pay by boku casino

There is such a great amount in this article I would never have considered all alone. Your substance gives perusers things to consider in an intriguing way. Much thanks to you for your unmistakable data. lean meals for weight loss

Much thanks for this incredible post. Best man speech

You posting are wonderful and informative. natural teeth whitener

I think this is a standout amongst the most huge data for me. What's more, i'm happy perusing your article. Be that as it may, ought to comment on some broad things, The site style is flawless, the articles is truly extraordinary : D. Great job, salud Corporate Gifts

Cool stuff you have and you keep overhaul every one of us. flytte-info.dk

I see the greatest contents on your blog and I absolutely love reading them. visit

Much thanks to you for setting aside an ideal opportunity to distribute this data extremely helpful! Custom flip flops

Much thanks to you for setting aside an ideal opportunity to distribute this data extremely helpful! Custom flip flops

Howdy! Pleasant stuff, do update me as often as possible when you post again something like this! read this review

Outstanding blog you guys have preserved there, I totally valuate the effort. sylvainduport trading

Therefore, if it is an object of photo, the background will be water.bmw z3 car cover

Your online journal furnished us with significant data to work with. Each and every tips of your post are marvelous. You rock for sharing. Continue blogging.. visit the site

Job well done guys, quality information. stairs carpet

Howdy dudes! Wonderful stuff protects it up. http://tricheclashofclansastuce.com - mis a jour

I infer I haven't interpreted specified incomparable physical anywhere added online. maxocum pills

You have done a amazing job with you website. hot tub maintenance

Magnificent and intriguing article. Extraordinary things you've generally imparted to us. Much appreciated. Simply keep making this kind out of post. best man speech

Magnificent and intriguing article. Extraordinary things you've generally imparted to us. Much appreciated. Simply keep making this kind out of post. best man speech

A debt of gratitude is in order for setting aside an ideal opportunity to talk about this, I feel firmly that adoration and read more on this theme. In the event that conceivable, for example, pick up learning, would you psyche upgrading your website with extra data? It is extremely valuable for me. Deck contractor

I went over such educational post. Keep doing awesome. Happy to be a piece of your net group.ถุงซิป

You completely duplication our mean and the difference of our information. lords mobile hack

It is very good, but look at the information at this address. istanbul escorts

Looking to go out and encounter the popular nightspots and parties.fashion blogs

If only because they were things neither ever showed any tendency or inclination towards doing during their time at the helm.iPhone repair nottingham

A debt of gratitude is in order for a superb offer. Your article has demonstrated your diligent work and experience you have in this field. Splendid .i adore it perusing. https://convertio.co/mov-mp4/

You hit comprehend out of the most construction topics. can ho feliz en vista

Your content is shows potential, m gona add this to my bookmarks. vectors logo | Buy low obl backlinks

This substance is composed extremely well. Your utilization of organizing when mentioning your focuses makes your objective facts clear and straightforward. Much obliged to you. how to take care of dog

You possess lifted an essential offspring..Blesss for using..I would want to study better latest transactions from this blog..preserve posting.. diabetic neuropathy

This article is an engaging abundance of instructive information that is fascinating and elegantly composed. I recognize your diligent work on this and thank you for this data. You have what it takes to get consideration. girlsdoporn

I'm happy to see the immense subtle element here!. dabrigdeals

The lineament of your articles and listing is large. sylvainduport.com