When I moved from New York back to my hometown of Seattle a couple of months ago, there was a very quiet, optimistic side of me that had visions of being able to — for the first time in my lifetime — regularly attend Sonics games at KeyArena. I shouldn’t have even let my hopes get that high. About 24 hours after I touched down, the City of Seattle reached a litigation settlement with Sonics’ majority owner Clay Bennett, and the franchise I’d followed since I was six years old and my father took me to a Sonics/Lakers game (where I asked him why Sedale Threatt grabbed the rim when he shot the ball) was leaving.
Now that the ex-Sonics have gone to Oklahoma City and given themselves a makeover as the Thunder — and since Seattle won’t be getting an NBA franchise any sooner than about 2012 (which will inherit the Sonics name, history, logo and colors) — the ’08-09 season is approaching and I don’t have a team. Lately I’ve been asking friends and fam to help me adopt a franchise while the Sonics don’t exist, and now I’m taking it to you guys, the readers.
Obviously, the Thunder are out of the question. I’d rather give Bennett a right cross than pretend to root for his shitty team in his ‘bama town. I can’t in good conscience root for the Celtics (too many d-bag fans), Lakers (too many fake fans), Suns (too many whiny fans) or Mavs (I can’t stand certain people in their organization). Raptors, Sixers and Jazz fans kind of scare me; I don’t know if I want to get on that bandwagon if it means I have to get jumped out when it’s time to leave. And as much as I like some of the players on their rosters, the Hawks, Clippers, Warriors, Bobcats, Hornets, Bulls (sorry LeKeith), Magic, Wolves, Nets, Nuggets, Heat, Wizards, Bucks and Kings just don’t do anything for me in that regard.
So that leaves just a handful of realistic candidates:
Of all the NBA franchises that might relocate to Seattle someday, the Grizzlies are the front-runner. Owner Michael Heisley wants to sell (he damn near sold to Christian Laettner a while back, which would have immediately put the Grizzlies out of the running for me), the fans aren’t filling the arena, and the team stinks. I’m cool with Rudy Gay and he’s one of my favorite players to watch, I like O.J. Mayo‘s game, I feel like I kind of discovered Hamed Ehadadi (Dime #43), and if Memphis pulls off the Zach Randolph trade, they’ll have another one of my favorite players in the League.
Anyone who’s ever read my work on this site or sat through a basketball argument with me knows how much I like the Spurs. Partially because I tend to side with teams/players who are unjustly hated-on and partially because I appreciate the way they play basketball, the Spurs have been my go-to playoff team since the Sonics fell out of contention. Tim Duncan is one of my favorite players of all-time and, I still contend, the best player in the world over the last decade. Bruce Bowen is my one-man basketball instructional tape, I might be the only non-celebrity I know who likes watching Tony Parker play, and Kurt Thomas gave Seattle a good half-a-season before being dealt to San Antonio.
From 1994 to 2005, Reggie Miller was my favorite NBA player, even moreso than GP and Kemp, and the guy who’s primary traits (shooting, testicular elephantitis) I’d most want to add to my game. I haven’t paid much attention to Indiana since Reggie retired and Larry Bird started copying Isiah Thomas‘ GM style, but I could go back for a few years. Danny Granger is a good dude and a solid player, as is T.J. Ford, and Georgetown’s Roy Hibbert is involved. But I’m gonna need Marquis Daniels to stop dressing like an ’80s jazzercise instructor on the court.
Living in New York, you can’t help but follow the Knicks, and getting to go to 41 home games a year on my Dime press pass was an added bonus. Over the last two years I’ve gotten to know and befriend people who work for the Knicks, I’ve been in the locker room, and they have a couple of Seattle guys in Nate Robinson and Jamal Crawford. They also have Pat Ewing Jr. from the Hoyas, but former Sonic Jerome James being on the roster is a big strike against New York. I also really hate watching Mike D’Antoni and his ref-baiting, whiny-pants antics. He’s worse than Duncan with that.
Yes, they are the nearest NBA team to me. Yes, they have Seattle natives Brandon Roy (my Little League teammate) and Martell Webster (my fiancee’s cousin) and are coached by “Mr. Sonic” Nate McMillan (my little brother’s idol). Yes, I’m cool with Channing Frye. And yes, the Sonics/Blazers rivalry wasn’t nearly as heated for the majority of my formative years as it was back in the day. All that, and it still feels strange throwing allegiance behind Portland.
Like the Spurs, I think it’s a shame that more people don’t respect and appreciate Detroit’s success over the years. At the same time, even I have to admit I’ve fallen asleep during a Pistons game or two. But Rodney Stuckey is a Seattle kid, Juan Dixon is one of my favorite players/people in the League, and for whatever reason I have a soft spot for Kwame Brown. On the negative side, I really can’t see myself rooting for Rasheed.
Love T-Mac, Mutombo is a G’town alum, Aaron Brooks is a Seattle kid (went to my old high school), I’m cool with Ron Artest, and Brent Barry is a former Sonic. Then there’s the entertainment value of, over an 82-game schedule, watching Chuck Hayes shoot a couple dozen free throws. And I wouldn’t feel bad dumping the Rockets when the Sonics come back; I wouldn’t be any more of a rent-a-fan than the thousands of Chinese who love Yao so much they blindly vote for Shane Battier to be an All-Star starter.
Trust me, this has nothing to do with jumping on the LeBron bandwagon. When I was growing up, the Seahawks were terrible, and hardly any kids I knew rooted for them. Left to find our own NFL teams, I gravitated towards the Browns. That Cleveland connection puts the Cavs on my radar, plus my brother-in-law is a lifelong Cavs fan. The team also has a few former Sonics (Delonte West, Wally Szczerbiak, and Eric Snow for the time being). And it’ll be a true test of loyalty if I stick around after ‘Bron walks away in two years.
So that’s where I’m at. Training camp is right around the corner, and I want to complete this adoption process before the games start to count. Feel free to help a fan in need …