In Seattle, plenty of fans are still angry that their NBA team was bought and moved to a smaller market. They rightfully feel screwed over by callous ownership, shortsighted local politicians, and NBA league office happy to make a point to other cities about helping fund new arenas.
Among those angry fans, Jamal Crawford.
The Clipper swingman and multiple time Sixth Man of the Year wrote and essay for The Cauldron at Sports Illustrated on how Seattle still misses a team — and how he wanted to play there.
“When the Oklahoma City Thunder played the Miami Heat in the 2012 NBA Finals, I was actively rooting for Miami. It had nothing to do with the Heat. It had everything to do with how much it stung to watch my hometown team, the Seattle SuperSonics, in the NBA Finals representing a different city.
“Since then, I’ve developed a strong friendship with Kevin Durant, so now I root for him to succeed — unless he’s playing my Los Angeles Clippers, of course. But back then, the pain of losing the Sonics was still fresh, and I couldn’t help but feel deep dislike for the entire Thunder franchise. I can tell you that most Seattle fans still feel that way….
“I was playing for the Knicks in 2008 when Seattle’s relocation to Oklahoma City was made official. I remember being in total disbelief. Sure, there had been rumors that ownership might sell the team if it didn’t get a new arena, but I never thought it would actually happen. The fans in Seattle are too passionate, too loyal — and the team had just been to the NBA Finals in 1996.
“It dawned on me immediately that I had already played my last professional game in the city of Seattle. It was an emotional moment, but mostly because it also sunk in that I’d never get a chance to actually suit up in a Sonics jersey. I just kind of took it for granted that my playing for the franchise was meant to be. At that point in my career, I had never even experienced free agency. There’s no doubt in my mind that I would’ve signed with Seattle had the team not relocated, but once again, it wasn’t meant to be.”
Nobody speaks for everyone, but Crawford sentiment is that of a lot of Seattle fans — they want the Sonics back.
Most of Crawford’s article is a plea for a team to return to Seattle. That almost happened when the Maloffs sold the Kings, but led by Adam Silver behind the scenes there was a push to give mayor Kevin Johnson a chance to save the team in Sacramento, and he did. Silver, and most owners, do not want to see teams move. I’m not sure if the Seattle/OKC situation would play out the same way today. Stern handled things differently.
There are no plans for expansion in the NBA. While some owners are listening to offers for their teams, those talks come with stipulations that the team remain in that market (and some of those markets new owners wouldn’t want to move out of anyway). All of which is to say, I’d love to see a team back in Seattle, I just can’t see it happening for a long time.