It’s way too soon to pop any corks in the Pacific Northwest, but the potential return of the Seattle SuperSonics definitely had the NBA world buzzing on Wednesday.
Bulls guard Nate Robinson is a Seattle native. He tweeted a Sonics logo in the afternoon, then scored 13 points in the first quarter against Milwaukee.
The outcome didn’t stay positive against the Bucks, but the Seattle news definitely put Robinson in a good mood. According to several reports, a deal could be close to sell the Sacramento Kings to a group that would move the team to Washington.
“They’ve been waiting for that for a few years now. The fans pretty much got their prayers answered,” Robinson said. “For me, of course, I’m happy, just because my family’s out there. My kids love watching me play basketball. So going back home for me, I’ll be ecstatic.”
Nothing against Oklahoma City, which has shown great enthusiasm for the Sonics-turned-Thunder. But losing Seattle was clearly a negative for the NBA. The Sonics were Seattle’s first pro team and the city was very loyal. Arena issues led to a departure after the 2007-08 season.
Even though he was an NBA player at the time, Robinson felt the disappointment of losing his hometown team.
“I was kind of ticked off, but it happens,”said Robinson, who spent half a season playing for the Thunder . “You’ve got to be patient and now look, we’re back.”
It’s been widely assumed since Oklahoma City chose a new nickname, any team that moves to Seattle will take over the Sonics’ name, colors and history, sort of like the new Cleveland Browns in the NFL.
“They have to. It’s a must,” Robinson said. “It wouldn’t be the same. Seattle Kings? No way. The city wouldn’t let that happen. They’re going to have their green and yellow back.”
Robinson isn’t the only Bulls player with ties to the Sonics. Vladimir Radmanovic was drafted by Seattle in 2001 and stayed for 4½ seasons.
Carlos Boozer also grew up in Sonics country, albeit a few hundred miles north in Juneau, Alaska.
“I’ve got a lot of fans down there, man,” Boozer said. “A lot of my friends from high school moved to Seattle. Honestly, for me, I’d love a team back there. I love going to Seattle to play. Great town, great fans. I know Nate’s excited. I’m just as excited as he is.”
If this move does come true, the sad part would be Sacramento getting left without a team. It’s a shame that city didn’t come up with a new arena plan before the recession hit.
The good news is the new Sonics would play in Key Arena for a couple seasons while a new stadium is built. Key Arena is an intimate venue that feels like it’s on a college campus, inside and out.
Here’s another way this move could affect the Bulls — for a while, Norfolk, Va. was mentioned as a potential landing spot for the Kings. Don’t laugh, it’s largest metropolitan area in the U.S. without a pro team after Las Vegas.
But if the Kings moved to the East Coast, they’d need to join the Eastern Conference and the likely next step would be the league choosing between the Bulls and Bucks for a team to move West. How would that one turn out?
The overwhelming memory of the Sonics for most Bulls fans would have to the ’96 Finals. That’s when the 72-win Bulls team jumped to a 3-0 lead, lost the last two games in Seattle while Ron Harper was hurt, then won the series in six games.
“At the same time I was sad, but I was happy because I was a Michael Jordan fan,” Robinson said of ‘96. “Just to see my city in the championship then was just awesome. The city was going bonkers. You had the Reign Man (Shawn Kemp), you had The Glove (Gary Payton), Detlef Schrempf, Sam Perkins. You had so many guys contribute and they gave them a run for their money. That was big time for our city.”
No doubt it would be a big move for the NBA if Seattle is back in.
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