There seems to be a tradition among Sonics fans. We listen to the comments of team officials, digest the words, and then immediately move on to figure out "What are they really saying?" We assume that when Rick Sund says he's happy with the roster that he must have struck out in trade attempts. We assume that when players say they understand the business side of things that they are secretly seething. In general we try hard to find anything from hidden meaning to outright lies in almost any statement made.
With that in mind it is no wonder that most fans are still looking for the truth when Bob Weiss talks about defense.
By all indications this has been an organization with only one member even remotely defensively oriented. That person, Nate McMillan left for Portland in the off season. With him gone, fans have an expectation that defense will fly out the window and the team will revert to losing ways. New head coach Bob Weiss seems to take some offense to that notion.
"We were not a good defensive team last year," he told me at Sonics media day last Monday.
"We need to focus on DEFENSE," he continued with emphasis on the word.
Anyone who has spoken with Bob Weiss will tell you that he's easygoing and friendly almost to a fault. That is why I took notice when he seemed so passionate about the answer. The slight bit of aggravation in his voice was out of character and, in my opinion a very good thing because it indicated a sincere passion for defense on Weiss' part.
So far nearly every quotation or article I have read regarding Weiss and the Supersonics contains a strong reference to defense. Nearly every description of training camp mentions the heavy focus in that direction. In addition the new coaching staff with assistants Bob Hill and Brendan Malone seems like a group assembled to preach defense. Yet somehow the fans refuse to believe them. There seems to be a sense that it is all lip service and that Weiss lacks the intensity necessary to focus on that side of the game.
Iâ€™m hoping that this commitment to defending is sincere. Iâ€™m also wondering why the skepticism about it runs so deep.