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Our Home Team: Seattle as a Basketball City

We want an NBA team back in Seattle. The NBA should want one too.

Edited by Tiffany Villigan

The Seattle SuperSonics started in 1967 as an expansion team. I'm sure most of us here know the history of the team, so I won't go into great detail. Needless to say, the team was loved by its fans, through their championship run in 1979 and, indeed, all the way up until the moving trucks backed up to KeyArena to take our team away.

There is a common misconception amongst those not in the know that the city of Seattle and the Sonics fans didn't support the team, and that is why they left. Few things could be further from the truth. If you want to look at attendance numbers, sure they dropped in the final year of the team's existence as we knew it. But by that time, everyone knew what was happening. The new owners had gutted the team of any player with deep-rooted ties to the city. Younger players weren't allowed to talk to the media. The team's official radio station changed from longtime 710 KJR to 770 KTTH, a small station that was normally reserved for Conservative talk shows. Many people in Seattle didn't even get the station. Attendance may have been low in those final years, but it was because ownership created a void where there once was a lovable team. And yet, still we came. Not in droves like before, but even during their final season in Seattle, the team averaged 78% capacity. And that final game, the fans packed in like never before. To say goodbye. To shout "Please stay" into deaf ears. To chant "Save Our Sonics," because we didn't know what else to say.

And then we came some more. We threw rallies, we stood outside the courthouse steps, screaming to the heavens for anyone to "Save Our Sonics." We came out in the thousands, flanked by legends like Gary Payton and Xavier McDaniel, guys who weren't even from here but knew what basketball meant to us and why the team couldn't just be allowed to leave. Even current players like Spencer Hawes, then a member of the Sacramento Kings, came to our rallies. Fines be damned, he had to try and save our team.

"There are a lot of cities in our league that sort of run into each other," said former Sonic Brent Barry. "If you were painting a picture, it'd just kind of bleed into one city. But Seattle on its own stands apart."

Even to this day, you can't wear a Sonics hat or shirt and not have someone give you a subtle nod, as if to say, "Thanks for keeping hope alive" or "Bring them back." Some will even come right out and shout it. Hell, we have a guy who has become a local celebrity just for dressing in Sonics gear and spreading the message. He's our Sonics Guy.

Sympathizers will say "I can imagine what it'd be like if they took my team away." First of all, no, you can't. Second of all, this isn't just taking a team out of a city that loves basketball. This is taking a team out of a city that makes basketball players. There have been 21 players born in Seattle that have NBA or ABA experience. Expand to all of Washington state and the number balloons to 70. And that doesn't even include players who weren't born here but went to high school here or attended the University of Washington. Rainier Beach High School alone has produced more NBA players than the New York boroughs of Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx. Combined.

Current NBA players to come out of the Emerald City include Isaiah ThomasJamal CrawfordSpencer HawesNate RobinsonPeyton SivaRodney StuckeyJason Terry, and Aaron Brooks. Past stars include Doug Christie and Brandon Roy. All of these players represent Seattle. Nate Robinson has the city skyline tattooed across the back of his neck. Peyton Siva has the city's area code on his arm. These players wouldn't be who they are without the Sonics.

"I've always been a Sonics fan. They helped mold me. I looked at all those guys. I used to hang with Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp and those guys, and they took me under their wing, to work out with 'em, just to see how professionals acted. How they were in the community. I was like, 'Wow, I want to be like that one day.'" - Jamal Crawford, Sonicsgate

The numbers are dwindling now. If you look to the future, the only surefire NBA talent coming out of Seattle is Dejounte Murray. Maybe Shadeed Shabazz. Not only is the NBA losing a fan base -- one of the most fervent and passionate it's ever seen -- but it's losing a hotbed of NBA talent. It's losing an opportunity to see the next Brandon Roy. The next Nate Robinson. The next Jamal Crawford.

In an interview with Sonics Rising's Kevin Nesgoda last March, point guard Aaron Brooks, then with the Denver Nuggets, had this to say about growing up watching the Sonics in Seattle:

"I grew up going to all the camps. George Karl camp, Gary Payton camp. We had a Seafirst Jam hoop camp with the Sonics. I mean, it's very pivotal in a lot of our careers, you know. I think they're the reason why there's so many athletes, so many NBA players from Seattle. Growing up watching them and relating, Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp, that's why we have so many guys in the league that's from Seattle."

As long as we don't have a team, these guys are our team. They are the ones out there representing our city, showing everyone that Seattle was, is, and continues to be a basketball town. How did these guys come to be the sole representatives of Seattle in the NBA? By being fans, just like us. Fans of the game of basketball, and fans of the Seattle SuperSonics.

That's why Sonics Rising is here. We need to remind the NBA why we deserve a team. Why they should want a team here. For us. For them. For Seattle. For the NBA. For basketball.

Bring Back Our Sonics.