Rich Austin, the former general manager of the CBA's Yakima Sun Kings, posted the following on his Facebook page earlier this month. I can't believe I didn't see it until today.
Twenty years ago today (May 1), the Sun Kings won their first CBA Championship, defeating Pittsburgh, 4-games-to-2. The first of five CBA titles won by the team. What a great group: Mo McHone, Paul Woolpert, Geoff Clark, Eldridge Recasner, Kevin Holland, Aaron A. Swinson, Curtis Kitchen, Chucky Brown, Anthony Goldwire, Larry Robinson, Reggie Jordan, Dell Demps, Erik Martin and Edgar Jones!
The Seattle Supersonics were not the only bastion of basketball history to depart the Pacific Northwest in the last decade. As a matter of fact, both the Supersonics and the Sun Kings folded in the same year, and 57 years of combined tradition folded with them.
For most of the Yakima franchise's existence, they were a fun team to watch and featured some really good players. The squad won national championships in 1995, 2000, 2003, 2006, and 2007.
As a part-timer for the Yakima Herald-Republic, I had the privilege of covering a handful of games for the team over the years. I got to interview community favorites, such as Kevin Holland, or Special K as he is known in Yakima. I also got to interview people like future NBA star Raja Bell.
As with the Supersonics, I am irritated that the Sun Kings no longer exist. I am also irritated that the Contental Basketball Association no longer exists. It folded not long after the Yakima team because of the rise to prominence of the NBA's Developmental League. NBA legend Isiah Thomas is largely responsible for both failures, having owned the entire league at one time and having had the opportunity to turn it into what the NBADL became. Instead, he chose to play hardball with ... David Stern.
On this day, I am reminded that I want my Yakima Sun Kings back, along with my Seattle Supersonics. Rest in peace, fellas. We hardly knew ye.