Team Flight, Fan Blight: Possible Options for a Sonics Fan

Bill DowSenior Analyst IJuly 3, 2008

It isn’t like any other day this city has seen.

Just yesterday, Sonics owner Clay Bennett ripped the struggling yet deeply-rooted Sonics team from the temperate jungle of downtown Seattle.  For many fans of the former team, hearing the colors and name will stay in Seattle just creates a bigger problem—what to do now.

It isn’t as if there is an easy transition.  So many fans celebrated the 41 years of Sonics basketball.  So many fans didn’t realize this day was about to come.  So many fans are now left without a team, rain-bathing in distaste, despair, and uncertainty.

Nothing will quell the sadness in the hearts of these supporters, just as nothing will dilute the margarita of emotion the Mothers of the Plaza feel when thinking about their lost children.  We lost our prodigal son, our only truly successful, championship-winning child—and even if we adopt another team in the future, it will never be the same.

At this point, the fans of Seattle have options at an individual level.  Namely, each individual has to decide how he or she is going to go about dealing with professional basketball in the future.  Here are some opportunities.

The most obvious and understandable option for the former Sonic fan is to drop interest in the NBA altogether.  Though they would have to give up a professional sport they once loved, the Washington Huskies are consistently improving and are close to reclaiming some sort of dominance in the Pac-10.

Basketball is also in full force on the local level.  Seattle's hallmark is producing future stars, including 2006 NBA Rookie of the Year Brandon Roy, 2006 Dunk Contest Winner Nate Robinson, and national top-ranked freshmen like Tony Wroten.

The sentiment is understandable.  David Stern and the NBA, at best, were apathetic toward the cultural upheaval during relocation, and one could even argue they connived and held grudges toward an unproductive, yet completely supportive city.

And what could be worse than seeing the Oklahoma City Thunder play, wearing their disgusting colors (what else would they be?) and beating the Portland Trailblazers with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and the rest of the cast we were fooled into believing would become Seattle sports legends?

On the other hand, a true basketball fan won’t give up the sport without a fight, and there exist two plausible options to satisfying this desire.

The Sonic fan could continue to support what is rightfully theirs, no matter what uniform or home stadium they are playing in.  The youngest team in the league has too much potential in this league for the average fan to ignore.

Most Seattleites were jumping up and down when the Sonics received the second overall pick and selected one of the best collegiate players ever, Kevin Durant.  And with the dismantlement of the franchise by trading away the stars, aren’t the younger players rightfully ours?

If somebody trades cash (buys) a car, and that car gets stolen from them, aren’t they still the rightful owner?  Or isn’t the insurance supposed to help provide them an immediate team?  But the latter case is a different story.

The fans of the Supersonics have a right to follow this team, no matter the location.  Those in Seattle have just as much of a right to this team as Oklahoma City does, possibly more.

The other option for the fan is to adopt another NBA franchise, which is completely acceptable under Bill Simmons’ Rules for Being a True Fan.

The most plausible of choices is the Portland Trailblazers, as they are geographically the closest, have hometown stars (Martell Webster, Brandon Roy, and coach Nate McMillan), and are owned by Paul Allen, the same man who led the more popular Seattle Seahawks to glory after buying the team in 1997.

Yet the Trailblazers and Sonics shared the “I-5 Rivalry,” named after the interstate highway that connects the two, for the entirety of their coexistence.  Sure, it isn’t Yankees-Red Sox, but it is one of the biggest professional sport rivalries the city has.

Other than that, because Simmons permits it, former Sonic fans shouldn’t be blamed for taking a team as far away from the city as possible.  On a map, that is the Miami Heat, which are a viable option.  They have a “big three” similar to the Celtics.  Sure, they are much younger, but in that way we can pull for a team that is developing, much as our Sonics were.

If we can pick a team, why not get away from it all and go for broke?  Heck, they had the number two draft pick this year—isn’t that close enough?

Or we could go for broke and pick the closest team to Oklahoma City, in hopes of a good rivalry in which we can see Bennett bleed.  And what does luck bring upon us?  The Dallas Mavericks.

They only have a couple more years of talent, but by that point we might have a team of our own.  I cannot wait to see Kidd line up against Russell Westbrook and show Bennett that he shouldn’t have traded away Ray Allen.

But the more I think about it, the more I can’t.  I cannot just give up this team.  Yet I cannot just follow this team like an abused puppy.

I am lost, and to be honest, I have absolutely no idea what path I am going to take.