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Re-Writing Rivalries

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Doug Pensinger

I hated the Broncos as much as I hated the Portland Trailblazers.  They were a great division rival.

Now when I say "hate" I hope you get my meaning.  I am excited to watch the Hawks revisit their old rivals tonight.  It brings back great memories of the old AFC West which was a great division with strong and emotional rivalries.  I had passion rooting against the Broncos, Chiefs and Raiders with only the San Diego Charges as a team I didn't really care about.

Looking back now I really think that the change to the NFC West hurt my interest greatly.  I simply could take as much satisfaction beating the St. Louis Rams as I did the Broncos, Raiders or Chiefs.  It made the big games feel less big and dampened my enthusiasm for years.

The Sonics had great rivalries also.  The Blazers, Lakers and Suns were great enemies in the Pacific Division and just to make sure we stayed engaged Sonics fans also "hated" the Jazz, Rockets, Suns and Spurs in the Western Conference.  The depth of those rivalries was a big part of the reason it was so fun to be a Sonics fan.

I remember being asked how long it would take me to convert to being a Blazer fan.  It will never happen.

I love thinking about the concept of new rivalries with Sacramento and OKC.  We are all going to hate each other in the best way possible.  Sacramento may feel like we were stealing their gig but we saw them sit around on their hands until our guy had his hands on it and then only get active to block our big play.  We sense the inequality of the two markets treatments and will hold a grudge as long as they do.  It is going to be GREAT watching what happens on SonicsRising and Sactown Royalty for that first game.  Ditto for the hated Thunder.

I wonder how it would affect the experience if the Sonics come back in a vastly different division than the one they left? Will it feel the same?

Do our old division rivals still feel the same way about games against the Thunder as they did the Sonics?  If not how can that be expressed that this move not only took something from us, but also cheapened the experience for all the fans of other teams that loved the rivalry as much as we did?

And lastly thank you to the San Francisco 49ers for finally making the NFC West fun for us.  I hate you as much as I hated the Broncos.  You are a unlikable team with an arrogant quarterback and a coach and I really do feel that the dislike is really mutual.   I want to beat you so badly that it hurts.  I hope that in doing so the Hawks completely embarrass you in a way that leaves people questioning your team's toughness.

It's good to have a division rival again.