After finishing reading yet another tragic article on how great the Sonics used to be (http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nba/2009284407_sonic01.html), I decided it was time to pay a little homage to the only team I grew up watching consistently throughout the years (after the first round of the playoffs, I usually had to pick another team to follow, but occasionaly they did surprise).
The five players I've listed hold their own statistically. I've already checked.
Still, I can only vouch for the players I actually watched play, so don't hate me because I didn't start Spencer Haywood, or mention Gus Williams. I never watched him play as closely as I did the following five on this list.
If you want to argue for a Sonic, argue from the heart. Don't tell me, as a 15-20 something year old that "you should have included this player or that player because of stat x,y and z" or because you've developed some statistical reincarnation device which can compare any player who ever played the game.
I already have the link to Database Basketball, thank you.
Tell me because that player gave you his basketball talent to watch every time out, and it filled you with that sense of wonderment and awe that can only come from being a witness, right there and then.
Tell me because that player did something great, and immeasurable through statistical means, which changed the way you thought of the game, as a real, live spectator.
Jack Sikma helped bring a championship to Seattle. That was before my time. What I do remember, is the figure of a strapping giant blonde man, who made other centers' lives miserable when playing the Sonics.
Not only could Sikma play the post better than any Sonic player in the history of the team, he defended with tenacity and grit seldom seen in the modern game.
Sikma was your equivalent to an NFL pro-bowl linebacker, only that God gave him height and hands instead of shoulders and biceps.
Oh wait, he had those too.
The tragedy that is Shawn Kemp isn't so bad if you look at his career totals, but it is if you consider what this man's legacy could have been had he not lost respect for the game that created him.
Part of a man's talent is the ability to maintain focus and have passion for the little things that contribute to success.
The practice. The listening. The decision making. These capacities failed Kemp as time wore on.
But what a player he was.
Remembered most for his electrifying dunks, if you never watched Kemp play, then think Dwight Howard's physical abilities with all of Amare' Stoudamire's offensive touch, and you might approach what Kemp could offer.
He made a tremendous mess of the Bull's defense in that '96 final, and very nearly got it done for the Sonics.
Most importantly perhaps, he, along with Gary Payton, put Seattle on the NBA map of relevancy once again.
The NBA simply had no answer for Kemp's rare combination of power, speed and finesse. The notion of moving Seattle's franchise in the days of Kemp was laughable. It still is, to some.
When Dirk Nowitzki was drafted by the Bucks and sent to the Dallas Mavericks as a promising young German international player, Dallas fans may have been recalling the time when "the other German" got away.
Detlef Schrempf, originally drafted by the Dallas Mavericks, was the most groundbreaking player of the 80's.
Detlef was not only a ground breaking player, but a great player, make no mistake about it. He was the first "Big Fundamental" in that he did everything the right way.
His spacing, his shooting, his penetration and his savvy were all years ahead of his own maturity.
If you never saw him play, watch Hedo Turkoglu play with the Orlando magic and you get a pretty good idea of what Detlef was all about over his whole career, not just a couple of seasons.
Yes, he bounced around a bit, with stints in Indiana and Portland, but he is best remembered for his Seattle days and his deep run into the '96 playoffs where he effectively guarded none other than Scottie Pippen en route to a close 6 game loss to the Bulls 13 years ago this month.
Always involved in the community and a fan favourite for his entire Sonics tenure, this versatile point forward gets my pick at the small forward spot.
Make your own case for Ray Allen. This is my list, and I'm talking Seattle greats who get buried in time by the hype machines and pop journalists who rehash the same 12 names over and over again like an NBA mantra.
I can hear the modern day version of it now:
Kobe, Lebron, Wade, Carmelo, Garnett, Ray Allen, Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, Chris Bosh, Lebron, Kobe, Lebron, Kobe, Lebron, Kobe, Wade.
Seriously, enough is enough. Dale Ellis was the very definition of the position of shooting guard. He didn't have a lot of flash, he didn't have the nicknames like "Downtown" Freddy Brown.
He didn't have his own movie wherein his character's name was actually "Jesus". He had a flat-top haircut and wore short "pants", not short shorts.
He was just a shooting guard, and a damn good one. For a stretch of 5 years, no Sonic, and very few others in the league, were deadlier with the open shot than Dale Ellis.
He was like a rich-man's Byron Scott who, because of his quiet nature, flew under the radar for most of his career... but what a shot he had!
He was blessed with the most perfect form a shooter ever had. He was the sole reason the Sonics remained relevant in a Sonic era of irrelevance. Without Dale Ellis, those mid-80's teams would have sunk like a mob informant.
With Dale Ellis, you knew the team always had a chance.
"The Glove", as he was known by for his defensive abilities could steal a ball from any player in the NBA, rifle a pass downcourt to a streaking teammate, get reset defensively for another play, all while telling you about how he was going to do it all over again, but this time to every family member you had.
Known as much for his ability to make big plays as he was for his ability to trash talk, GP was the epitome of a Seattle Sonic.
Hard-nosed, fundamentally sound and efficient at both ends of the court. He redefined the point guard position and was untouchable for years at his position.
He has multiple all-star selections, defensive player of the year awards, 2 gold medals, 1 NBA championship, a wide array of all-time statistical records in his 12 years as a Sonic, and the only player I ever saw, other than perhaps Joe Dumars, who gave Michael Jordan serious trouble when defended by him, Gary Payton, I'm sure, will be the least controversial selection on my list.
Probably more importantly, no one former player has been more involved than Payton to return a Sonics franchise to Seattle.
He recently told Oklahoma officials that he didn't want any part of their history as a player as he "never played for the Oklahoma Thunder". He'll retire his number in Seattle, or not at all. That's what I like to hear from my former Sonic greats.