Originally published June 24th, 2012
The seconds ticked to zero and Seattle Supersonic fans let out a collective exhale. The Miami Heat are NBA Champions! It felt like dodging a bullet, didn’t it? Could there have been anything worse as a Seattle sports fan than the Oklahoma City Thunder winning an NBA title less than 5 years after leaving Seattle? (Outside of them leaving in the first place, of course.)
The NBA Finals and Seattle’s local Sonics rally couldn’t have come at a better time for fans of the team. The rally had a ton of play here locally, and it’s been interesting to see the re-energized fanbase and attention it’s gotten nationwide. Chris Hansen deserves the recognition and appreciation; it’s refreshing to see someone that wants to own a franchise in Seattle and at the same time is showing he’s not only willing to finance a HUGE portion of the arena proposal, but has also gone out of his way to engage local business leaders and politicians. Chris Hansen is doing everything right, and if the Sonics Arena proposal fails to move forward, it will be everyone’s fault but Chris Hansen. But is Seattle supporting the right franchise and league?
Why do you want the Sonics back in Seattle? This is about more than history and nostalgia for a team that meant so much to this community in the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s. The NBA turned their backs on Seattle. David Stern supported a move that tore a winning franchise from a city that had supported it for over 40 years. The NBA allowed an unscrupulous owner to run the team into the ground like Rachel Phelps from Major League. David Stern sat here with his smug look and attitude and told Seattle they were going to take our team. And they did. And now we’re going to reward them for it?
It feels inevitable that the Sonics will return to Seattle, but it’s bittersweet. It’s like telling Howard Schulz that you’re going to boycott Starbucks by buying coffee at Seattle’s Best. If the Sonics return on David Stern’s watch, then he’s won. He’s the weasel in the corner of the room ringing his hands and waiting to get his way, he’s the boy that took his toys and went home while we’re left begging to play with them.
I refuse to support the NBA while David Stern is in charge of the league. I’ll admit, I wavered. It’s hard not to get caught up in it. I’ve talked about it before, I loved the Sonics. I watched Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp in awe. The NBA was never better, even if we didn’t win a title in the 90’s. It’s hard not to get caught up in that history, and the memories of a sport that meant so much for so many years. I wavered. But I can’t do it. David Stern can not win. We’re sniveling back to a girlfriend that left us for another guy, begging her to take us back. I think Seattle needs to realize that our “old girlfriend” got real ugly, and if we’d look up long enough we’d see there’s a girl looking at us from across the room. And she’s hot.
The NBA and NHL are averaging over 17,000 fans a game. If you guessed the NBA was higher, you’re wrong. The NHL is averaging over 300 more fans a game than the NBA according to 2012 attendance. Sure, the NBA draws better television ratings, but the NHL continues to grow in popularity. The NHL has a 10yr television contract and is growing year over year. What will happen to the NFL as they tighten down on injuries and impact on the field? Will fans start to move to the NHL the way they did to UFC? What about the NBA as a league? Where is the league heading as it’s superstars start to age? What about when their next round of superstars play in towns like Oklahoma City and for the Clippers?
The NHL in Seattle is a BOOM waiting to happen. The city embraced Major League Soccer with energy and passion and over 36,000 fans a match. We’ve had the NBA. The NHL is the great unknown. The sport is growing and there’s an outstanding opportunity with Vancouver and Seattle regional match-ups. There isn’t a better time to back an NHL franchise in Seattle.
Chris Hansen has earned the opportunity in Seattle. I don’t agree with the arena’s location, but I do agree with how he’s running the campaign. The Sonics return to Seattle is almost a certainty. I just wish that Mr. Hansen would target the NHL first and let David Stern and the NBA stew in the problems they’re creating for themselves in Sacramento, New Orleans, Charlotte, Milwaukee… Stern and the NBA need to be taught a lesson, it would only be right for Seattle to be the ones to teach it to them.