This is the day I've been both dreading and eagerly anticipating since the Seattle SuperSonics played their last game back on April 16, 2008.
The return of the NBA to the city I've lived in for the past 24 years.
Well, the reported return (via Yahoo! Sports Adrian Wojnarowski):
The Maloofs are finalizing an agreement to sell the Sacramento Kings to the Hansen-Ballmer led Seattle group, sources tell Yahoo! Sports.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) January 9, 2013
Source: Seattle groups offer was rejected by Maloofs. Hmmm. Plot thickening by the minute.— stevelarge_cbs13 (@largesteven) January 9, 2013
What we r hearing from a source: Deal moving along nicely but not done. No pending announcement. Hope to have deal done by end of month— Dave Softy Mahler (@Softykjr) January 9, 2013
Still, a deal seems inevitable. How am I supposed to feel about this?
On the one hand, the answer to that question is painfully obvious. I've been a fan of the Sonics for the past quarter-decade (I'm pretty sure my big brothers put a Dale Ellis jersey on me right out of the womb).
I grew up with Gary Payton, Shawn Kemp, Detlef Schrempf, Hersey Hawkins, Sam Perkins, Brent Barry, Vin Baker, Luke Ridnour, Nick Collison, Rashard Lewis, Ray Allen and, most importantly, Saer Sene and Robert Swift.
There were championship-caliber teams when I was young and there was a whole lot of mediocrity as I grew older, but I wouldn't have had it any other way. It was my team and I loved it with all my being.
Their departure was, in a word, heart-breaking.
As the Oklahoma City Thunder took the history of that green and yellow team I grew up with and went on to develop a title-contending powerhouse led by potentially one of the greatest players ever (who we drafted!), the desperation for a team grew even worse.
Call it the "what could have been" syndrome.
I, much like every other fan in Seattle, not only felt sadness and longing for my old team, but I felt jealousy. I felt despair. Sure, we had football and baseball teams to fall back on, but I grew up in a basketball family. That sport trumped all others. With no professional team, I felt empty.
So, of course I feel jubilant about Chris Hansen, aka Superman, aka God, leading the charge to fund a new arena and purchase the reeling Sacramento Kings.
But therein lies the problem.
We are doing the same thing to the city of Sacramento that Oklahoma City did to Seattle. We are taking its team.
The Kings' history is just as rich as the Sonics' was, and I would be the first to attest to that.
While I was always a diehard Sonics fan, I grew up as a Michigan basketball fan, as well. As such, Chris Webber was always my favorite non-Sonic player.
I followed him throughout his entire career. I watched him with Golden State. I watched him with Washington (and have his Bullets jersey). And I watched him with Sacramento, where he teamed up with Mike Bibby, Doug Christie, Peja Stojakovic, Bobby Jackson and Vlade Divac to form one of the most exciting basketball teams ever.
Heck, I even cried (I was 14, that's only slightly embarrassing, right?) when they were eliminated in the Western Conference Finals in 2002.
The point is, I know what this team, struggling or not, means to the city of Sacramento. I remember the cow bells. I know how important the Kings were during those years. I know that the fans are some of the best in the NBA and don't deserve this.
And I know what it's like to lose all of it. I know that shady, idiotic, scumbag ownership can bring grown men and women to tears with their handling of our teams.
So this is my apology to you, Sacramento fans.
I have been clamoring for a team to return to Seattle for the past four-and-half years. I wanted it badly. I would have sold a dead parakeet to a blind kid to make sure it happened.
But I didn't want it this way. I didn't want to rob another elite fanbase of its team. If this deal does in fact go through, I truly hope you get another team, and I truly hope it doesn't come at the expense of another city with a rich history.
This is the saddest best day ever.