It’s official. The NBA is coming back to Seattle.
With recent reports stating that the Sacramento Kings have officially been sold to a Seattle-based group led by Chris Hansen, it seems inevitable that the Sonics will once again hold court in the NBA’s northwestern-most outpost.
And while undoubtedly a great loss for the city of Sacramento, the sale is also a much-deserved gain for Seattle and professional basketball as a whole.
All stats accurate as of January 21, 2013.
Sonic legend Shawn Kemp is still immensely popular in Seattle.
The Seattle SuperSonics first entered the NBA in 1967 and won their first championship just over a decade later.
As one of the most popular teams in the association during the 80s and 90s, the Sonics were consistently competitive up until their departure following the 2007-08 season, in which they posted their worst record ever (20-62).
The Sonics are one of the most storied franchises in NBA history, and the league simply doesn’t seem complete without Seattle’s green and gold.
Does California really need four NBA teams?
While that point is certainly debatable, it makes little sense for the Golden State to house over 10 percent of the league, while a city as large as Seattle sits empty.
Geographical diversity is a key component in enhancing the NBA’s popularity, and a Seattle-based team does far more to push the borders of the league than does the bottom-feeders in California.
Seattle’s proximity to Canada gives western Canadians another squad to cheer for, a nice addition to their fans all across Washington state.
One of the key issues that drove the Kings from Sacramento has been the weak attendance in recent seasons. The Kings rank dead last in attendance this season, with an average turnout of just 13,153.
This is a problem that is unlikely to continue in Seattle, especially once the new arena is finished. Even in the Sonics’ last season, the team ranked 28th in attendance, and that ranking was much higher in more competitive seasons.
When Clay Bennett completed his deal to purchase the Sonics, it came with the provision that he would make a reasonable effort to keep the team in Seattle before moving the franchise elsewhere.
However, it soon became clear that Bennett had no intention of allowing the Sonics to stay, and thus Seattle’s last hope of retaining its team slipped away.
While Seattle certainly could have done more to fight for its NBA franchise, this deception by Bennett, which likely did not pass without David Stern’s knowledge, ensured it would not have the chance to fight anymore.
The NBA allowed Bennett to trick Seattle out of its team, and the league owes it to Sonics fans to give them another chance.
Although Sacramento fans are bound to be initially devastated by the loss of their team, there is a definite silver lining to the move.
Much as the loss of the Sonics served to illuminate just how important professional basketball is to the city of Seattle, Kings fans may develop a greater understanding of the value of an NBA team and thus have an increased incentive to fight for a new one.
Perhaps Sacramento, too, will succeed in bringing a franchise back home, once it has been forced to deal with living without one.
Only time will tell.