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Friendship and Death but Still no Sonics

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Departed friend Mike Baker and the SonicsRising Staff in 2014

Mike Baker was a fixture at Sonics Rising for years and before that he was one of the founding members at SonicsCenral.com. Mike was one of the Unsung heroes of the Save Our Sonics movement, dedicating a ton of time writing, organizing and just being a damn good friend when I needed somebody to talk to. I remember spending hours on the phone with Mike contemplating ways to thwart Clay Bennett and just venting about it all.

Mike held strong opinions and left Sonics Rising in the midst of the OVG/SonicsArena conflict. His frustration with this whole unending mess had hit a point where he simply said “I can’t do this anymore” and walked away.

This morning someone commented on an old Facebook thread, leading me back to a Mike Baker comment from 2017 and prompting me to check in with Mike. This is what I found:

Mike’s role with this site and the Sonics movement cannot be overstated. He will be missed greatly.

Steve Gough, another low profile member of the Sonics movement, joined me for road trips to Shanghai to watch Yao Ming’s Rockets play in his hometown and Phoenix for Super Bowl XLIX. We shared some amazing experiences touring Rocket players through Steve’s Chinese second home and joining Chris Hansen for beers pre-game in Arizona. Steve’s high level connections with international entertainment organizations helped verify and vet a lot of the rumors that have passed on to this site in recent years.

Steve was born and raised in Philly so in addition to loving his Sixers he was a huge hockey fan. We had just talked a couple days before his death about his excitement for the NHL’s arrival and the confidence he had that it would ultimately lead to the NBA’s return. After he passed suddenly in December, leaving a remarkably strong widow and heartbroken young daughter, his family and I commiserated over the fact that his beloved Sixers were playing the Blazers during his funeral.

Friend and Sonics supporter Steve Gough and I with agent Leigh Steinberg in in 2015

I spend a huge amount of time pleading for patience among the fans as the city and league maneuver to deliver on this very big goal. I also do my best to explain to people up the ladder what the actual experience has been like for all of us hoping our team comes back but nothing explains how painful the wait has been more clearly than the message I sent to a widow today:

”When the Sonics do come back please make sure that you reach out to me to make sure that Mike’s kids get to be a part of the celebration their father worked so hard for.”

It’s gone on so long that the friends we made along the way are dying without ever seeing their dreams come to fruition. Our kids are growing old without ever knowing the Sonics as a team instead of a political novelty. This has taken so long that it will never be the same for us.

That is how it is.

That is what we’re dealing with.

That is why, after 12 years I don’t care who solves the problem, we just need a resolution.

RIP Mike & Steve. I’ll make sure your kids are at opening night or I’ll skip it myself.