Bidding Basketball: How To Get Ready For The Possible Return Of The NBA To Seattle

Last week, the basketball world was abuzz with news that the owners of the Sacramento Kings were in the process of finalizing the sale of the franchise to a Seattle-based ownership group. The upshot of the apparent deal, while far from sealed, was that it would effectively mean the return of the Seattle SuperSonics next season.

With this in mind, Bidding Basketball has scavenged eBay’s “infinite inventory of NBA junk” for rare, memorable and/or quirky basketball memorabilia to find items to assist Seattle fans looking to update (or retrograde, I suppose) their wardrobe should the team return to the city. Hopefully this piece doesn’t jinx it.

*** *** ***

Live Auction: RARE Vintage Seattle Sonics World Champs 1979 Snapback Hat Yellow Supersonics
Buy It Now: $74.99, plus shipping
In terms of Seattle sports history, the 1978-79 SuperSonics are the Space Needle pinnacle. The team was the first (and only) in franchise history to win an NBA title, and, save for the 1917 Metropolitans’ Stanley Cup victory, the only team to win a championship in Seattle.

In hindsight, this feat was especially notable given that the Sonics’ roster lacked a single superstar player. The team was instead led by a balanced scoring attack consisting of Hall of Fame guard Dennis Johnson (before he became a Celtics legend), All-Star center Jack Sikma, leading scorer Gus Williams, guard Fred Brown, power forward Lonnie Shelton, reserve center Tom LaGarde and forward John Johnson – all of whom averaged greater than 10 points during the 78-79 regular season.

Entering the playoffs as the Western Conference’s No. 1 seed, the Sonics handled the Los Angeles Lakers, 4-1. In the Western Conference Finals, conversely, the Phoenix Suns pushed Seattle to seven games. A career performance from Jack Sikma (33 points, 11 rebounds) finished the Suns off in the deciding contest.

The victory set the stage for a rematch of the 1978 NBA Finals, in which the Washington Bullets defeated the Sonics in a tightly contested 7-game series. Game 1 went much same as the year previous as the defending champions won 99-97 after Larry Wright hit two free throws with no time remaining. The loss did not deter the Supes, however. They carried Games 2 and 3 rather handily, winning by 10 and holding Washington under 100 points in each. Game 4 was once again a close one, but another double-double from Sikma helped Seattle edge the Eastern champs, 114-112 in overtime. In Game 5, the Sonics were able to close out the Bullets, 97-93, and secure the NBA World Championship after clawing back from an eight-point deficit at half. DJ was named Finals MVP, averaging 22.6 points, six rebounds, six assists and 2.2 blocks in the series.

As mentioned above, the Sonics have yet to repeat as NBA champs, so should fans wish to commemorate the accomplishment, they’ll have to settle for this vintage yellow snapback.

Ended: $152.50, plus shipping
The 1990s Sonics were an eclectic bunch. Players ran the gambit from Shawn Kemp to Detlef Schrempf to Nate McMillan to Tom Chambers to Sam Perkins. But few captured the heart of Seattle like Gary Payton. Indeed, The Glove was a fan favorite from the moment he was drafted second overall out of Oregon State in 1991. It’s not hard to see why: he was a hard-nosed, slick-talking son-of-a-gun (or for the Nike connoisseurs, a Son of Glove). Stories of the latter are well-known, and covered cogently last week by Dime‘s Andrew Greif. But the 6-4 point guard could back his talk up—on both ends. Payton was an outstanding defensive player, who was always assigned the opposition’s best scorer and almost always stopped him. He averaged 2.2 steals per game (peaking at 2.9 per in 1995-96, the season in which the Sonics were bested in the Finals by Chicago), while contributing 41 defensive win shares (his career DWS figures rank 45th in NBA history) as a Sonic, according to Basketball-Reference.

As a consequence, GP was a perpetual Defensive Player of the Year candidate, winning the award in ’95-96 and earning recognition on the NBA All-Defensive First Team for nine consecutive seasons (1993-2002). On the offensive end, he was similarly competent, averaging 18.3 points per game on 46.9 percent field goal shooting to go along with 7.4 assists per game in Seattle. Taken together, these statistics make Payton an almost sure-fire Hall of Famer. And if the Sonics do return to the Northwest, it’s only a matter of time before his uniform, for sale in the auction above, is lifted to the rafters… in the city where it belongs.

Live Auction: Vintage NBA Seattle Supersonics The Supes Are Back t shirt XL
Buy It Now: $19.99, plus shipping
Although this “Supes Are Back” t-shirt appears to have been designed sometime during the forgettable Howard Schultz era (I can hear the screams from King County), the same message, if recent reports are to be believed, might also be true next season. In case you missed it, let’s recap what we know about the sale so far.

Last Wednesday, Yahoo! Sports reported that the Maloof family, current owners of the Sacramento Kings, was set to sell the Kings to a Seattle-based ownership group headed by hedge funder manager Chris Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. The franchise would then file for relocation to Seattle for the 2013-14 season.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski:

No agreement has been signed, but one source with knowledge of the talks described the deal as “first and goal at the 1.” Sources said it will take “some time” to get a formal agreement in place. The Maloofs’ history of changing course late in negotiations still has some uneasy about getting the sale completed. The Maloofs previously neared a deal with Sacramento leaders to help finance a new arena in the city before backing out.

The Maloofs are expected to keep an extremely small percentage of the team, but will have no real input or say in the franchise, sources said.

Since then, conflicting reports have emerged concerning the extent to which a deal has actually been completed. Notably, George Maloof denied to News10 in Sacramento that any agreement was close. Later, however, Seattle-based writer, Derek Belt, tweeted that Kings guard Isaiah Thomas told a source that the team had been informed that, “[The] deal is done.” The most recent information from Wojnarowski indicates that during a call with the NBA relocation committee sometime last week, a “non-binding set of deal points” were reviewed, including a sale price of $525 million for a majority stake (65 percent) of the franchise to the Hansen-Ballmer group. The Sonics would apparently occupy the KeyArena for two years before moving into a new building.

So that’s where we are now. Hopefully the Supes will, in fact, be back.

What’s the one piece of memorabilia every Seattle fan needs?

Follow Tim on Twitter at @timboknows.

Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.

Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.