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SonicsRising Staff Year End Round Table: How was 2014? Predicting 2015 - the year the Sonics rise?

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With 2014 ending tonight the SonicsRising staff reflects on 2014 and looks ahead to the year that will be in 2015.

1. Favorite piece we put out this year and why?

Matt: Tied: "Sources: Could the Milwaukee Bucks be moving for the 2016 Season?"; "Sources: NBA Possibly Exploring Expansion to Seattle and Louisville" These were well-researched scoops that are, so far, holding fairly true.

Paul: My favorite was the Louisville expansion piece, because it gave us some hope in an otherwise dark and quiet year. Though things have gone somewhat silent since then, I stand by what we reported in that article.

Mr. Baker: My favorite was, "Sources: Could the Milwaukee Bucks be moving for the 2016 Season?" because it really could happen, and it's still an active story.

Taylor: The piece where we announced that Hansen had turned in the EIS paperwork. It was right after a very discouraging article saying the complete opposite. It was a big shot in the arm at a time when a lot of people needed it most.

Steve: The "Milwaukee move in 2016?" piece was probably my favorite that came out this year, along with the throwback articles to the dark years (Still would have liked to see Gelabale as a point forward...) although I believe the best stuff we do, like Dontae and Mitch's consistently pro-grade pieces, don't get much traction with our sour readership.

Joseph Chong (from Bring Back Our Sonics): The Gary Payton piece. I liked how we provided the Seattle fans an opportunity to not take other people's favorite teams too personally. I'm glad I helped out with that too.

Brian: My favorite piece didn't get much response but it meant a lot to me as part of my "cathartic" journey.  I kind of enjoyed trying to put to words some of the feelings from the Sacramento ordeal and it helped a lot to talk about it with all the friends on this site.

Mitch: What If? The Legacy of Len Bias.

Lucas: Kevin's piece discussing the possibility of the Bucks moving to Seattle in time for the 2016 season, I think the situation in Milwaukee will once again become a point of interest for Sonics Fans in 2015 (more on this in a second.)

Jeremy: I think Taylor's piece on the heartstrings of not having a team was the most touching and memorable off the top.  I can't remember the title. (LeBron James is Returning To His Hometown, but Seattle Players Aren't So Lucky)

Kevin: I really loved so many pieces this year.  The Bucks moving to Seattle piece, possible expansion... it was weird to play reporter.  I also loved the Best of Seven Series we did with Welcome to Loud City, that was a lot of fun and the April Fool's Day piece.  How and why people got so mad at that is so beyond me.  Terrible Photoshop job and so ludicrous in context.

Dontae: Two articles come to mind this year, but they just happen to be on one subject. Chris's short but true piece on the Sonics "Return" in SI (along with Brian's response) and Lucas's The Sonics, Forever piece for his introduction on the team.

Chris for summing up the entire existence of SR in one paragraph:

"We here at Sonics Rising are beating the drum unapologetically for the return of the Sonics.  We believe it will happen.  And we want to be ready for it.  So wherever you find yourself on the hope spectrum, keep tuned in.  Keep reaching out to your local politicians.  Keep making your voice heard.  It matters.  I believe it is not a matter of if, but rather a matter of when the Sonics will return.  And we're doing our part to make sure we are all ready for it."

And Lucas for reminding me of my own love and passion for the SuperSonics. That there is still a faithful out there that are just as passionate as I am about the past and future of a team.

Miles: My favorite piece this year was Taylor's piece on LeBron coming home, but the Seattle area players not having that opportunity. It was well done because it tied in the still present, but moderately dormant NBA fan base here along with the Seattle ProAm. You can tell that guys like Jamal Crawford and Nate Robinson would be open to coming back to Seattle to play (since they do it in the summer already) although they aren't afforded the chance. Congrats to Taylor on making it reflective without being angry or accusatory.

2. Favorite Sonics related moment of 2014?

Paul: This was a personal moment for me, but getting the opportunity to interview Bob Blackburn, Jr. and his mom was really special. It was a chance to interact with a portion of Sonics history and soul.

TaylorGreen and Gold Monday. Sure, the media played it off as a bunch of sad Sonics fans drowning their sorrows, but it was a lot more than that. It was a very fun time and I got a chance to meet a lot of great people and talk old Sonics memories.

Steve: For me it was getting to edit & produce the Bob Blackburn & KC podcasts ... great stuff. 

Brian: It's tied:

Chris Hansen at the Richard Sherman Celebrity Softball game for purely selfish reasons.  I enjoy getting some time with Chris and his family socially and being involved with Richard on that project provided an opportunity that was just really fun and cool.

Steve Ballmer taking ownership of the Clippers.  That was a totally hard thing but one I saw coming the moment the franchise went up for sale.  Internally it forced a lot of conversation about where the movement stood and what it could withstand.  I came away oddly at peace that there wasn't really anything that we couldn't get through and confident that it would all be OK in the end. I was also really happy for Steve. I completely get what he did and why it is such a big deal for him.

Mitch: Karl raising the 12th Man Flag.

Lucas: George Karl raising the 12th man flag against the Rams in the season finale.

Jeremy: Anything with Sonics Guy in it is my favorite moment.

Kevin: That site reunited Kevin Calabro and Marques Johnson.  So legendary!

Dontae: The ongoing speculation and excitement around the NBA that had to do with our city. The EIS discussion, the arena news, the expansion talk, all that stuff. We stayed in the NBA's view all year and next year isn't going to be any different. After 4+ years of not having an NBA team, I don't doubt the force that fans of this city and site have with making noise for a team back in Seattle.

Mr. Baker: Two Fans with David Stern. That photo just makes me feel good.

Matt: Seeing the crap-ton of Sonics gear available for the holidays; George Karl raising the 12th Man flag to raucous reception.

Joe: Following the Bucks story.

Miles: My favorite piece of Sonics news was Steve Ballmer becoming a NBA owner albeit with the Clippers. Although his net worth made him an attractive partner for the Hansen group, I think having an ally in the ownership group and having someone of that clout invest in a team shows that owning a NBA team is a great investment at this time and should help the Hansen group attract more quality investors and hopefully get an expansion team in the near future.

3.  Favorite SonicsRising moment of 2014?

Mr. Baker: The recap of Mitch Levy's interview with Steve Ballmer was my favorite piece. The conversation in the comments was remarkably grounded in reality. He saw an opportunity for him, now, as the lead guy. Nobody faults him for going after it, and our situation didn't take a fatal blow.

Steve: Getting KC and MJ together again on the podcast. That was absolute gold.

Brian: Telling old war stories at my house with the other writers.  It was a ton of fun.

Mitch: Calabro hosting the podcast, that was awesome.

Lucas: Being taken on as an official member of the staff easily takes the cake for me on this one.

Jeremy: Getting the year-end stats email was pretty huge.  That's badass stuff.  Really surprised that some of the point guard and center stuff was getting so many hits.  I love it.

Kevin: The BBQ at Brian's house and seeing everyone talking shop, memories and what not.  That was fun.  Then also getting to know the guys a hell of a lot better, getting closer to them, watching them grow as writers, seeing their passion for the cause, the site and keeping you guys entertained.  Plus the conversations we have that you guys never see... oh boy. Poor, Paul.

And KC hosting the podcast.  Name another SB Nation NBA site that pulled something like that off.

Dontae: The Roundtable we did earlier this month was a good one for me. Although it was somewhat edited, very few times has everyone been able to get behind the closed doors of some of the candid conversations that go on in our daily communications.

I hope we can do more of that in the future.

Matt: KC hosting the podcast - Total legitimacy; the above articles.

O and the Master would be pleased! Hail Hydra!

Paul: When we posted a discouraging article about the progress of the arena as reported by Jon Humbert, followed the very closely by an encouraging article about the complete annihilation of Humbert's report by Chris Daniels. That was a fun day.

Taylor: Calabro hosting the podcast. That was incredible, being able to talk to someone I grew up listening to and who was as big a part of the Sonics as anyone.

Joe: I didn't follow enough, but anything related to Silver, Bucks and arena.

Miles: The Kevin Calabro podcast was a great moment for Sonics Rising. I have a picture of him from the rally and respect him greatly. I wish I could hear him call games everyday, but its always a treat to hear his voice whether its calling another basketball game or on a podcast.

Secondarily, I really enjoyed Brian's barbecue. Meeting the other contributors in person and hearing some old war stories on a beautiful summer day was a great time.

4. What do you expect from the site in 2015?

Brian: The site is going to struggle again with how to handle the Milwaukee situation.  Regardless of anything that happens here they are about to start a heated arena debate and there is going to be a lot of noise.  It would be insincere to completely ignore that noise but at the end of the day there is no good or easy way to talk about it.  I expect things to really kick up in late Feb/March and culminate sometime between June and August.  Nobody from Seattle will really get involved until they decide their own fate one way or another.

Mitch: More news, more features, more fun, more Sonics.

Lucas: I expect continued coverage of the NBA and players from around this area, as well as quite a bit of reporting about the FEIS and all the developments that will come along with it. Such as possible statements from the NBA, as well as legal challenges that will almost certainly be levied against the review.

Jeremy: Well the news may drive us once again.  I'm okay with that.  Not to take anything away from the awesome reporting and NBA interest pieces y'all are doing.

Kevin: The continued excellence that we have already begun, more news (think we'll have a lot to cover this year), more history pieces, some other fun surprises that we have in store and taking the next step as a blog in an untapped market. Yep, more surprises and there is one in plain sight on the site here.  You just have to look around.

I also think 2015 is the year that we'll lose one or two of our writers to the professional ranks, joining Mr. Kevin Pelton in that esteemed regard. We are building a writing force of extraordinary magnitude. We forge our tradition in the spirit of our ancestors. You have our gratitude.

Dontae: More insight, greater analysis, and more news to report on from the city of Seattle that will get people excited for the future of our team. I don't expect us to throttle back in any facet, but I expect more from not just the site itself, but everyone who visits the site on a regular basis.

Also some unique content and ways for folks to get Sonics and NBA-related content from our site.    

Taylor: I expect us to start breaking more stories. Things similar to Kevin's "could the Bucks move in 2016" piece or the Louisville expansion piece. Both of those have yet to be proven false and are still active stories. I hope we can get more scoops like that.

Steve: I expect more news & coverage of the ongoing situation in Milwaukee, the EIS approval, and signposts to the next eventual labor stoppage in 2017.

Matt: Lots of news rolling in and recognition as the top source for Sonics news and commentary.

Paul: I expect the site to continue to cover basketball, much to the chagrin of some, and to continue to cover arena and team acquisition developments as they occur.

Joe: More media exposure of SonicsRising. I would be very interested to take part as well. I have video making experience and I would like to build on that. As much as we do a great job with articles. Not everyone likes to read. We should expand on media options to attract more fans

Mr. Baker: I expect the site will have to turn its attention from the want of information from Chris Hansen to managing the demand of resolution from the NBA league office, as the EIS completes.

Miles: I expect SonicsRising to contribute providing quality basketball journalism regarding the sport in Seattle, to be a community that provides a forum for Seattle basketball fans to interact with each other while at the same time reporting on the NBA in general.

5.  What kind of news do you predict in 2015?

Steve: I'm skeptical that Milwaukee will be on the move in 2015. These things tend to be resolved at the 11th hour.

Brian: 2015 is the year we should know our outcome.  Milwaukee will get resolved one way or another and at that point they have just 2 years to satisfy our MOU.  If a decision is not reached on how to do that by the end of 2015 I will start to become significantly worried.

Mitch: EIS approval, rumors emerge for Gary Payton to be a head coach candidate. Seems like everyone is hiring a former point guard, and my guess is that The Glove can win more games than Derek Fisher.

Lucas: Much more positive news and developments for the return of the Sonics than there was in 2014. However, I don't see us landing a franchise next year. As I've said before, the situation in Milwaukee will be one Sonics fans should definitely keep their eyes on, as it is far from resolved. That being said, at this point I can't bet against Milwaukee. In Sacramento, we saw the league show much more empathy and understanding then they ever showed us, and I don't expect that to change. I also think we will hear some serious discussions about expansion to Seattle; I truly believe the league wants back into our market.

Jeremy: EIS and other local activity.  Hard to say if any concrete movement on getting a team.  Sure to hear some interesting stuff out of Milwaukee, but doubt we will be any surer about that situation than we are now.

Joe: So I predict the Bucks arena plans to not go through leading to the NBA taking action and maybe having Hansen and company involved, of course the twitter war is inevitable and you'll have Bucks fans pulling the Packers Super Bowl argument on who has the better teams.

Matt: Strong and positive FEIS news, solid legal standing against arena opposition, heavy relocation talk possibly leading to real expansion discussions if relo doesn't come through.

Mr. Baker: I predict that a team, other than the Bucks, will be identified as the new Sonics.

Taylor: I predict final EIS approval, the arena getting shovel-ready, and news starting to leak out about a team coming to Seattle.

Paul: I predict final approval of the MOU will go more smoothly than people think and that it will happen in February or March. I further predict that the Milwaukee situation will clarify itself one way or the other. I would give that city a 60-70% chance of keeping the Bucks, with the NBA continuing to show existing fan bases the appropriate level of consideration, flexibility, empathy, and effort that it never showed us. Once that is resolved, we will learn more about the chances of expansion and hope that the league will demonstrate its desire to be in Seattle by FINDING A WAY to make it happen. I don't expect us to land a franchise in 2015, but I'm hoping to see some tangible positive news in that pursuit.

Dontae: For one the FEIS to be published and the other timelines that Baker laid out to be, for the most part, on point. Outside of that I expect to see more real expansion/relocation discussions that provide us some insight into our future with a team.

Kevin: This doesn't come from insider knowledge, but just a raw gut feeling that once the EIS is passed the NBA's public stance will quickly change.  I've told you guys to ignore what they say about no expansion, not to Seattle yet, etc.  Once the EIS is passed though, their tune is going to change and we're either getting a team relocated here for the start of the 2015 or 2016 season or an expansion team will be announced and they will begin play in 2017... after the lockout.

Miles: I predict that 2015 will be a quiet one on the arena front. We'll continue to hear news gradually trickle out regarding the possibility of expansion, but the main source of discussion for the NBA in Seattle will be in regards to the Milwaukee Bucks arena situation. Whether that is good or bad, only time will tell.