On October 3rd, I was granted what for me amounted to a unique opportunity to attend Sonics Media Day at the Furtado Center. I'd like to thank the Sonics PR staff for the opportunity to do so and for their graciousness throughout.
As an average fan, I arrived at the Furtado Center not knowing quite what to expect. I had heard the term "controlled chaos" and expected a "media frenzy" or at the very least a strict and controlled environment. In addition, I expected a great deal of trouble in actually getting an interview. Despite them letting me in the room, who was I anyway? Who would want to comment to an online blog site such as SonicsCentral? I came in prepared to question anyone but resigned to the fact that a few moments with Mateen Cleaves would likely be the highlight of my day after a long session with camp invitees Noel Felix and Roger Powell. In the end, I did spend time with Cleaves, Felix, and Powell and Cleaves was one of the highlights of my day, but not for the reasons I had expected. At one point towards the end of the day, a laughing Cleaves blew out of an interview where he had been mistaken for Flip Murray.
â€œI talked to them about everything.â€ he joked to Murray, â€œThe contract, all of it.â€
From the top on down it appears that the Sonics are open, easygoing, and accessible. Perhaps my biggest surprise of the day was just how approachable the players, coaches, and staff of the organization proved to be. Basically the entire roster not only answered questions, but seemed happy to do so. They strolled around with the tension of a backyard barbeque answering questions and joking with each other while media members scrambled for a juicy story.
On at least three separate occasions I found myself saying out loud, "I can't believe itâ€™s so easy to just walk up and talk to these guys..." On each occasion, the staff or media member I was speaking to came up with the same answer, "Itâ€™s not always like this." That sentence, followed by rolled eyes, player examples from around the league, or just the cautionary "Itâ€™s not even close," gave me the distinct impression that there is, in fact, something quite unique about this roster.
Over the next several days and possibly weeks I will attempt to trim down the various comments and observations made at this event into a series of articles previewing the season. These articles will feature quotes, player previews, and more specific analysis, but for me the big story of Media Day was not any specific player, quote, or even basketball related. For me, the big story was this feeling that we were dealing with a special group of people. The story is that maybe last season's chemistry was not a fluke. Maybe there is something to the concept of building a team by having guys who know how to be good teammates, and that just possibly this group of guys likes each other enough to re-create the chemistry that carried them to 52 wins last year.
It may be that winning cures all woes. It may be that itâ€™s simply too early in the season for tension to have built up, and it may be that a good attitude can only take you so far. But when I look at the media day headlines facing other teams, I feel a bit sorry for their fans. The simple fact is that at this moment the Sonics are, â€œLike this.â€ I for one intend to enjoy it while it lasts.