I was a 4th grader growing up in Sioux Falls, SD. I went to a YMCA basketball camp, and they divided us onto teams and gave our teams NBA team names. I was on the Sonics. I had never heard of the Sonics. Didn't know they - or Seattle - existed. That spurred me to learn more, and from that grew a love for the Sonics. This was just a few years after the Sonics had won the NBA championship, so to my young eyes, they looked like as good a team as any to follow. Well, them and the Magic led Lakers. Hey, I was a kid, so give me some grace!
I was the only Sonics fan in my High School. I was that guy who owned every Sonics hat and wore one every day. This was before Al Gore invented the internet, so I had to search long and hard to find these hats. Whenever I saw a new one, no matter the price, no matter how broke I was, I bought it, knowing I might not see another one for a long time.
I continued to follow the Sonics from afar in college. I was sitting in a relative's house in Loveland, Colorado when Dikembe Mutumbo sprawled on the court at the end of the game stabbing me in the heart and crushing the Sonics playoff dreams with an embarrassing loss to an 8 seed. The loss was tough enough, but to be surrounded by Nuggets fans was painful. For years.
I have used a Sonics gym bag every day since 1999 - yes the same bag. My brother gave it to me for Christmas that year. While it is too small to hold all my stuff well, and it is borderline falling apart, I hold onto it, loyally using it anyhow.
I spent thousands of hours on SonicsCentral.com chasing down and eliminating spam from the comments. Starting game threads. Editing Brian's posts. Tracking down the code for Popcorn Machine so I could enter the +/- after every game with the box score so we could have a better picture of how the game actually went. I was that guy. I was thankful to have gotten in pretty early at SC.com, and was always grateful to be part of what was going on there. I was and continue to be thankful for Brian Robinson giving me some run when he's never met me in person.
When the Sonics were stolen from Seattle, I quit the NBA. It took a few years before I watched another NBA game. I've only watched the NBA with passing interest since the Sonics moved to be honest. Some playoffs, a bit here and there, but no new merchandise, no game tickets, no concessions.
I don't drink coffee, so I couldn't effectively boycott Starbucks. Though it does still kill me a little bit each time my wife visits one (it's her favorite coffee).
Perhaps the most painful thing is to watch OKC. Because I love them. I love what Sam Presti has done. Kevin Durant is nightly can't miss basketball. They play hard, are tenacious, and incredibly talented as a team, even with the loss of the bearded one James Harden. And I watch and think what if. What if that was my team still. I almost feel like I'm cheating on my old team when I watch them. And I even have a bit of guilt because I want to cheer for them. But that would mean cheering for Clay Bennet's team. I don't think I can do that. I'm stuck.
So to say I'm ready for the NBA to return to Seattle would be an understatement. Do I get what it is like to be a Sacramento Kings fan right now? Indeed I do. I think I get it better than many of them do. Because I've lived with this troubling pain for years now, pain they have yet to encounter, loss they haven't imagined. So I'll try to be kind towards the Kings fans, I really will. But my skin has thickened. I'm ready for Sonics basketball, and if that means this time I have to be on the side of the "bad guy", then so be it. I know that the Hansen group is not to be blamed for shady dealings like we experienced when we lost the Sonics, so I can live with it, sleeping well at night, with the hopes and the dreams of the return of the Seattle SuperSonics to the NBA!