SEATTLE — For those who’re a severe fan of the Seattle SuperSonics, jilted way back regardless of a long time of loyal love, you’re significantly completely happy for the final nice expertise out of your staff.
That will be Kevin Durant.
After a 12 months spent rehabilitating a torn Achilles’ tendon, Durant now appears to be dwelling his finest life in Brooklyn because the chief of the Nets. His odds of profitable a 3rd N.B.A. title obtained a major enhance when a blockbuster commerce reunited him this week with James Harden, his shut good friend and former Oklahoma Metropolis Thunder teammate, who was the league’s main scorer for every of the final three seasons.
Durant, Harden and Kyrie Irving on the identical staff? Scintillating, as long as they find yourself on the identical web page.
However when you’re a die-hard Sonics fan — and sure, rely me in that group — the happiness felt for one in every of basketball’s transcendent superstars comes with a flip aspect.
We see Durant and are compelled to reckon with all of the unfulfilled prospects.
Recall that the slim, do-everything ahead spent his rookie season in Seattle.
He was solely 19, however he led the staff via a dreary and unsure 2007-08 season. He wasn’t simply good, he was prodigiously good; so filled with expertise and pleasure that watching him made the doomsday discuss of the Sonics’ doable relocation drift away.
Then actuality hit. April 13, 2008. The final sport performed on the previous KeyArena: a win sealed by a Durant soar shot.
Quickly the staff moved to Oklahoma Metropolis, the place it started anew because the Thunder. (Pardon the crankiness, however they’ll all the time be the Tumbleweeds to me.)
It’s been 12 years, however the stinging questions stay.
What would have occurred if the Sonics had by no means left?
And what’s the correct place for loyalty and devotion within the relationship between gamers, groups, leagues and followers?
I’m typical of many in Seattle. The Sonics will all the time be in my blood. I’m comfortably middle-aged, however I can shut my eyes and bear in mind my first N.B.A. sport: the intense colours and sharp sounds and even the musty smells of the previous coliseum within the shadows of the House Needle.
I used to be 6, and the Sonics have been taking part in Jerry Sloan and the Chicago Bulls. I can nonetheless really feel my father’s humongous fingers as he led me to our seats.
A couple of years later, when my dad and mom divorced, my father stored our connection shut via the Sonics. We went to dozens of video games, seated nearly all the time close to the rafters. We noticed Julius Erving’s first look in Seattle — all that grace and energy and coolness.
We have been there in 1978 when the Sonics misplaced to the Washington Bullets within the N.B.A. finals.
In 1979, we watched Gus Williams, Jack Sikma, Dennis Johnson and my dad’s good friend Downtown Freddie Brown because the staff received its solely league championship.
Years later, Shawn Kemp and Gary Payton shaped a robust, ever-memorable duo, however our hearts have been all the time with these Nineteen Seventies groups.
Another reminiscence, this one bittersweet. When my father was dying, far too early at age 75, we rode collectively in an ambulance to a close-by hospice. I held his hand once more as he spoke of our most cherished occasions. “The Sonics,” he stated. Then he recalled, one final time, the wonderful, arcing accuracy of Fred Brown’s soar shot.
I do know I’m hardly alone. We bond over groups, over outstanding wins and searing losses and athletes who stay ever younger in our thoughts’s eye.
Followers all around the nation, who root for every kind of groups and gamers, know that love. It’s steadfast, devoted and rooted deep into our souls.
We additionally know the chance. There aren’t any ensures that devotion can be rewarded with loyalty in return. (Simply ask the Houston followers who’ve stood behind Harden since 2012.)
Two years after my father’s dying, the Midwestern possession group that had purchased the Sonics moved Seattle’s first big-time skilled sports activities staff of the trendy period to Oklahoma.
The truth that the staff had been a significant a part of one in every of America’s best cities for 41 years didn’t matter.
Nothing mattered however the backside line. The N.B.A. wished a elaborate new stadium, and taxpayer cash to fund a giant chunk of it. Seattle’s political leaders balked. There was no compromise.
Town misplaced the Sonics and the one participant everybody imagined as a franchise cornerstone. The one participant who may have introduced one other title and cast extra outstanding seasons, possibly for a decade or longer.
Town has by no means relinquished its love for Durant.
It helped that he by no means forgot town that birthed his N.B.A. profession. When his Golden State Warriors got here to Seattle for an exhibition in 2018, he wore a classic Shawn Kemp jersey and gave the sold-out crowd all they may ever need to hear. “I do know it’s been a tough 10 years,” he stated. “The N.B.A. is again in Seattle for tonight, however hopefully it’s again eternally quickly!”
Will that ever occur? To pine for it’s to be whipsawed between hope and despair.
When the N.B.A. commissioner, Adam Silver, utters a single sentence that could possibly be divined as giving a nod towards the Sonics’ return — as he did lately when he spoke of league enlargement as “Manifest Future” and gave a tip of the hat towards Seattle — the native information went into overdrive with tales a few doable return.
Contractors are rebuilding the previous KeyArena, quickly the house of the N.H.L.’s Seattle Kraken, an enlargement staff. They’ve gutted the previous construction. Near $1 billion will go towards growing its dimension and prepping it for a number of sports activities — professional basketball included. The entire endeavor is led by Tim and Tod Leiweke, brothers linked to the N.B.A. and Silver for many years who make no secret of their need to have an enlargement staff taking part in of their gleaming new edifice.
Does all this imply the Sonics are coming quickly? Perhaps. However then once more, possibly not.
So Sonics followers hold holding tight to the one final celebrity to have performed for our staff.
He’s doing his factor in Brooklyn now.
And we’re nonetheless dreaming of the long run.
I can see it now, in two years or possibly 5, the SuperSonics again in the end. The primary large free-agent signed to herald their return? Kevin Durant.
Sorry Brooklyn, there’s no such factor as loyalty within the N.B.A.