With the return of the Sonics now a "9 out of 10" toward being complete according to Chris Daniels, the topic of the team's history has been a hot topic. Everyone knows that Seattle still owns the rights to the name SuperSonics, the green and gold colors and all the Sonics' logos. But what about the 1979 Championship, the retired numbers, the banners?
As far as I understand, the history of the SuperSonics will be a shared commodity with the Oklahoma City Thunder. All of the banners and the trophy are still in Seattle, yet the titles they represent are all claimed by OKC. When Kendrick Perkins was traded to the Thunder, he had to change his number because of Jack Sikma, who never played for the Thunder. At the time, fans in Oklahoma said "why should we recognize the retired numbers of the Sonics?" Seattle fans responded with "I know, right?!"
So the argument stands, who should own a team's history? Does it belong to the city where those events happened? Or does it belong to the team as a franchise, regardless of where they play? Some people, like sportslogos.net's Chris Creamer, think that moving the Kings to Seattle and calling them the SuperSonics creates a fabricated history. I would argue that a team called the Oklahoma City Thunder claiming a championship won by a team called the Seattle SuperSonics is a fabricated history. Some fans in Oklahoma City agree with me, they want to write their own history. To me, the only argument that could be made is that if a team keeps the same name, ie the New Orleans Hornets or Utah Jazz, they could still claim the rights to the history of the Hornets or Jazz. However, if a franchise completely re-brands themselves under a new name and city, why should they get to honor a history that is completely unrelated to them?
To try and give this some perspective, think about Safeco Insurance and, by extension, Safeco Field. In this metaphor, Safeco Insurance represents a professional sports team and Safeco Field represents their history. In 2008, Safeco was purchased by Liberty Mutual, who in this instance represents out of town owners. Liberty Mutual decided to let Safeco continue to exist as its own entity. Therefore, Safeco Field was left as-is. Now, take Qwest (the team) and Qwest Field (the history). Qwest was merged with CenturyLink in 2011. CenturyLink decided not to keep the Qwest name, and therefore Qwest Field was re-named CenturyLink Field. The name changed, the history changed.
I, personally, think it would be easier for everyone if every team relocation was treated as a contraction and subsequent expansion, just with the same players. We all know a team is not just the players in the uniform, as those are constantly changing. Teams are about the fans, the city and the pride we feel in rooting for them. Even if the new Sonics don't get the history of the old Sonics, we will always have our memories. We know where the history happened. And that's something no one can take away from us.