20 years ago to the day (well, tomorrow to be exact) the above happened. It took me at least 10 years to get this image out of my head! Fast forward twenty years and I would take a dozen of these heartbreaks over not having our team anymore.
The 1993-94 season was ours for the taking. Our beloved Sonics win a franchise best 63 games, which was good enough for the #1 Seed in the west and the best record in the NBA. We had Home Court advantage throughout the playoffs and Jordan was busy betting millions on the golf course during his first retirement.
The fresh, one year old Sir Mix-a-lot "Not in our House" song didn't hold true as we blew a 2-0 series lead, Kemp make your free throws! (Game 3) and lose a Game 5 home heart breaker in OT on May, 7th 1994. Any Sonic fan can close his or her eyes and revisit the nightmare of Mutombo on the ground clenching the basketball.
Today, I have mixed feelings about this event. The painful sting of this memory is gone. Instead, the pain of losing our team makes the former feel like a scratch on a broken arm. Did anyone in OKC live through this painful memory? Did they go through similar heartbreak the following year when Nick Van Exel, Cedric Ceballos, and those annoying Lakers again knock us out of the first round?
20 years later I am almost glad Mutombo and the Nuggets happened. Did I just say that? Am I crazy? Hear me out though.. What if Kemp had hit one of those 2 free throws in game 3 to seal a sweep? What if we had went on to win the west and the NBA Title? Is it possible the pain of losing our Sonics could have been even worse? As someone who was born in 1980, I never got to live the 1979 championship. It is nice to talk about, but I have no direct relationship to it. I feel as though if we had won it all when I was 14 years old, the pain might be even worse to this day..
Speaking of 1st round disappointments, I was really hoping the ExVan Grizzlies would do us all a favor and award "that" franchise another 1st round defeat.
Oh well, Happy 20th Mutombo clenching a ball while laying on his back and crying Anniversary!