Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Goodbye Supersonics

The time has finally come. My favorite NBA team is about to pack up its bags and move to Oklahoma City. Many of us know the story of how Starbucks asshat Howard Schultz sold the team to Oklahoma asshats Clay Bennett and crew, and how the local government ignored any proposals for a new arena. I don't really want to focus on how extremely wealthy and also exceedingly greedy businessmen and politicians created this situation, I'd rather post some of the memories from a basketball era that will sadly end with tonight's regular season finale...

-As a kid in Connecticut without cable, I didn't get to see many Sonics highlights. About the only way I knew of the team is because of my Skybox rookie cards of Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp. Then my parents bought me a video titled "Super Slams of the NBA" which showed some of Kemp's earliest dunks. Of course he instantly became my favorite player.

- The Sonics continued to get better in the early 90's until they reached a point that they were one of the best teams in the NBA. Then in the 1994 playoffs as the number 1 seed they lost to the Nuggets. This of course was an awful moment in Sonics history, but it was also my first chance to see The Glove and the Reign Man play on NBC.

- After that series i began to devoutly follow the NBA boxscores for Sonics scores. I'd never miss NBA Inside Stuff because i knew that Kemp and Payton would always be in the Jam Session highlights. I also knew that with every game won, their chances of being in the playoffs and thus on NBC would grow.

(Nothing is better than the epic yamm job he puts down on Alton Lister)

- Finally in 1996, the Sonics broke through and beat the Jazz to make the NBA finals. Unfortunately they had to take on the greatest team of all time, the 72 win Bulls, but they still put up a great fight. Three things stood out for me in the series. First of all was how despite what Bulls fans say, Shawn Kemp was by far the best player in the series. He destroyed Rodman and Pippen in every single game and looked on the verge of becoming the best player in the NBA. The second thing I remember is how loud the crowd was before Game 3 in Seattle
The crowd fucking drowns out the PA announcer. Seriously if that doesn't give you goosebumps then I don't know what will. The third thing i remember is how Kemp and GP always did that ill shake with their fists before the game started. After that finals me and my boy Scott Stevens would do that before every soccer game in homage to the ballers from the Northwest.

- That Sonics team also featured the biggest pimp ever to put on a jersey in Sam Perkins, aka Big Smooth. This motherfucker was so chill that he didnt even need to jump to make a three, he just rocked back a little and stroked the nets. Plus not only was his nickname the most accurate of all time in terms of on-court personna, but it could quite possibly be the greatest nickname of all time in general.

-After the Finals appearance things went downhill for the Sonics. First they signed the worst player in the history of the NBA in Jim McIlvaine. Then Shawn Kemp turned into the Rick James of the NBA and was eventually traded to Cleveland. I thought rock bottom had been reached when Gary Payton was traded to Milwaukee, but i was wrong because the Sonics got back Ray Allen, who slowly helped turn the Sonics back into a contender. With the help of Rashard Lewis, Luke Ridnour and Flip Murray (who i constantly bugged Thompson about in sophomore year of college), the Sonics once again became a 50 win team and very nearly defeated eventual champions San Antonio in the 2nd round.

- Now the Sonics are awful again, but i was hoping that Kevin Durant would spearhead the next generation of great Seattle basketball teams. With him, Jeff Green and possibly Derrick Rose, Sonics fans would have the hope they they could quickly return to the playoffs and championship contention. Now they are going to move to Oklahoma City, but i will not move with them. I can't support a team owned by a jerk who displaced a legendary NBA franchise even if it has so much promise for the future. I'll no longer have an NBA team to root for, but i will always have the memories of rooting for one of the most exciting teams that the NBA has seen in recent decades.


Young Cicero said...

Nice post Swole. All about a wonderful thing from your childhood. I remember the Sonics were dominant on Tecmo Basketball for the original Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). That team featured Derrick McKey and Xavier McDaniel. Nate McMillan is the guy that I will always remember as a Sonic though. He was a key player and later, a coach. Always sad to see a piece of history move.

Young Contador said...

I also found the Sonics to be really dominant in the original NBA Jam for Super Nintendo. Shawn Kemp was a dunking machine, and Detlef Schrempf could pop 3's in your eye all game. They were almost as good as Scottie "Pippen aint easy" Pippen and Horace Grant..