Recently I was just messing around watching old NBA highlights on YouTube. I stumbled across a movie called Sonicsgate: Requiem for a Team. Great documentary telling the story of the Seattle SuperSonics. It began by giving the history of the franchise and really showing a sports how dedicated this fan base was. Being an Oklahoma sports fan, an avid one I would say, I knew the Oklahoma side of the story. I knew how we got the Sonics franchise that later became the Oklahoma City Thunder, how Kevin Durant is a future Hall of Famer and how bright the future of the NBA in OKC looked. I had thought that since the city of Seattle and the state of Washington didn’t put money into KeyArena/a new successor facility that meant the fans weren’t interested in basketball anymore.
When Starbucks CEO Howard Shultz bought the franchise, he promised to fans that the best days were yet to come. As soon as he took over as owner of the Sonics, he traded away star and future Hall of Famer Gary “The Glove” Payton. He not only sent away the franchise star, but alienated the entire fan base. He prevented the team from getting better through working their way back up through the NBA chain. His ego and perceived image of what was going to work did not show results on the court. A fan base can only take so many losing seasons before they just stop caring altogether. Shultz sent bad vibes to the players and broke up a championship caliber team as soon as he arrived. He tried to get a new arena year in and year out. Every year he tried to go to the city and state governments since 2001 when he took over the franchise. It’s hard for a state to pony up millions of dollars to pay for half of the stadium costs when he wasn’t putting any real effort to make the team better. They Sonics had only one winning season since he bought the team. Not only did he alienate the fan base, but after doing everything he could to get a new arena. He did try as hard as a Seattle native could have tried to his defense. His downfall was selling the Seattle franchise to Clay Bennett and his group of business buddies from Oklahoma City. Shultz bought the franchise for 200 million dollars. It was valued at 234 million when he sold it. Bennett bought it for 350 million, almost 120 million more than valued price. Bennett is a smart business man and knew that he could take this team out of Seattle by alienating them even more, blowing up the roster, cutting costs, no advertising in the city, and by gutting the roster and getting draft picks that the franchise could use in their new city(OKC).
It’s Shultz fault for selling the team to out of towners. If he wanted to be respected and revered by the Seattle community, he would have sold the team for less money to Seattle natives. It’s quite unfortunate that Seattle, the nation’s 14th largest media market, doesn’t have a professional basketball team. Gary Payton has said time and time again that he will not have his jersey retired in Oklahoma City and that he will work to the end of the earth to make sure that Seattle gets another NBA team. He’s gonna have to work hard to get that stadium, that’s for sure. They need to convince the billionaires in Seattle to work together and build a privately owned arena that is suitable for large scaled conferences, professional hockey and of course the NBA. Convincing NBA Commisioner David Stern that Seattle is NBA ready may a task. Stern is bitter at Seattle fans for not building his league a new stadium. Stern doesn’t care that the team was in Seattle for 41 years, he just views the league as a business.
Here’s the documentary called Sonicsgate. It was won multiple sports movie of the year award and is something that every Oklahoma City Thunder fan should see. It’s a great insight into the sage that was the Relocation of the Seattle SuperSonics to Oklahoma City.