BY SPNW Staff 12:00PM 05/21/2012

Ex-Sonics Can Oust Lakers Monday; You Care?

The former SuperSonics have a chance to oust the Lakers from the NBA postseason Monday for the first time since 1979. Do you care? Vote here.

Kevin Durant (right) and the Oklahoma City Thunder need one more win to oust the Los Angeles Lakers from the NBA playoffs. / Wiki Commons

Had carpetbagger Clay Bennett never occupied the planet, or if Howard Schultz told Bennett to get lost when he had the chance, Seattle fans would have been treated to one of the greatest days in the city’s sporting history Monday. The dilemma: which to watch?

At Safeco Field Monday night, when the Mariners launch a six-game homestand following three out-of-nowhere victories at Coors Field, Felix Hernandez will match throws with 25-year-old phenom Yu Darvish of the Texas Rangers. A better regular-season pitching matchup is difficult to fathom.

Hernandez we know about. Darvish, in his first year with the Rangers, has yet to complete a full lap around the American League. But the 6-foot-5 former Japanese All-Star is already an early Cy Young candidate at 6-1, 2.60 ERA, 1.32 WHIP.

Darvish, who beat the Mariners 11-5 in a less-than-stellar effort April 11 (his first major league game), fanned at least seven batters (high of 10) in each of his past five starts after striking out 14 and walking 13 in his first three. That’s the longest string of seven-strikeout games by a Texas pitcher since Bobby Witt in 1987.

Key for Darvish, as it is for most pitchers, is strike one. When Darvish delivers it, opponents hit .146 off him. When he delivers ball one, opponents bat .308 off him.
Or, to look at it another way: A first-pitch strike by Darvish has resulted in 46 strikeouts. But a first-pitch ball has resulted in only 12 strikeouts.

Through eight starts, Darvish has averaged 10 strikeouts per nine innings, Randy Johnson in-his-prime territory. Hernandez, a former Cy Young winner, averages 8.8.

Compelling as the Hernandez-Darvish duel, at approximately the same time they square off ,the Oklahoma City Thunder will contest the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 4 of their Western Conference playoff series.

Without the Bennett-Schultz shenanigans of 2008 that resulted in the Sonics’ leap to Oklahoma City, the Sonics would be up 3-1 in the best-of-seven series with three chances to finish off Kobe Bryant and the Lakers.

Considering the Sonics last ousted the Lakers from a playoff series in 1979, and have themselves been bounced from the postseason by Los Angeles six times since (most recently in 2010, playing as the Thunder), the prospect of the Sonics shooing the Lakers into vacation for the first time in 32 years trumps Hernandez vs. Darvish.

Had the Sonics not relocated, Seattle would be gripped in a huge, delightful basketball frenzy, perhaps the biggest since 1996 when Gary Payton and Michael Jordan met in the NBA Finals.

But, thanks to Sonicsgate, Kevin Durant, et al, no longer call Seattle home as the former Sonics march to what could become the franchise’s first NBA title since 1979.

Which makes us wonder whether you still care, no longer care, or never did. Input and comments urged and appreciated:


YourThoughts

  • gmj

    For what it’s worth, if the Thunder do end up winning the championship, I suspect the reaction from some Sonics fans (at least the ones who still care) would be no different that the reaction from Quebec Nordiques fans when the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche winning the Stanley Cup just one season after moving to Denver for the 1995-96 season. Or, for that matter, Brooklyn Dodgers fans when that team won the World Series in their 2nd season in Los Angeles.

  • gmj

    For what it’s worth, if the Thunder do end up winning the championship, I suspect the reaction from some Sonics fans (at least the ones who still care) would be no different that the reaction from Quebec Nordiques fans when the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche winning the Stanley Cup just one season after moving to Denver for the 1995-96 season. Or, for that matter, Brooklyn Dodgers fans when that team won the World Series in their 2nd season in Los Angeles.

  • Jamesike77

    Get over it. Had your shot.

  • Jamesike77

    Get over it. Had your shot.

  • thekellygreenandwhite

    The NBA having bailed on
    both Seattle and Vancouver coupled with a player who insults the idea of
    peace in the world leaves me caring only enough to post this comment.

  • thekellygreenandwhite

    The NBA having bailed on
    both Seattle and Vancouver coupled with a player who insults the idea of
    peace in the world leaves me caring only enough to post this comment.

  • Hdg

    Without Clay Bennett there is no Sam Presti running the organization.  Without Presti there is no Westbrook, Harden, Ibaka, Perkins…. The fact is Schultz was a horrible owner who ran the team into the ground some much that Seattle politicans were more than happy to watch the team leave before they would pay for areana upgrades.  This idea that they would be in the same position had Schultz kept the team with their horrible management that nickeled and dimed Seattle fans every step of the way is comical.  It’s not the fan’s of Seattle’s fault but it’s also not Bennett’s.  What did everyone expect when a few billionaires from OKC offered to buy the team?  Yet Schultz sold under a crap guise of saying Bennett had to make an effort to stay.  Everyone knew what the future held.  This isn’t Seattle’s stolen team or their stolen chance to beat the Lakers.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/LWMQ7ZEX5Q52WGRHU3GDRJJONM Matthew

       Finally someone understands! This would not be the same team if they had stayed in Seattle plain and simple. Horrible article saying the Sonics would be up 3-1 because they most likely wouldn’t be in the playoffs without Clay and Presti.

  • Hdg

    Without Clay Bennett there is no Sam Presti running the organization.  Without Presti there is no Westbrook, Harden, Ibaka, Perkins…. The fact is Schultz was a horrible owner who ran the team into the ground some much that Seattle politicans were more than happy to watch the team leave before they would pay for areana upgrades.  This idea that they would be in the same position had Schultz kept the team with their horrible management that nickeled and dimed Seattle fans every step of the way is comical.  It’s not the fan’s of Seattle’s fault but it’s also not Bennett’s.  What did everyone expect when a few billionaires from OKC offered to buy the team?  Yet Schultz sold under a crap guise of saying Bennett had to make an effort to stay.  Everyone knew what the future held.  This isn’t Seattle’s stolen team or their stolen chance to beat the Lakers.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/LWMQ7ZEX5Q52WGRHU3GDRJJONM Matthew

       Finally someone understands! This would not be the same team if they had stayed in Seattle plain and simple. Horrible article saying the Sonics would be up 3-1 because they most likely wouldn’t be in the playoffs without Clay and Presti.

  • Guest

    The day the Sonics left town was the day I gave up caring about professional basketball.  Just checking to see what other folks are posting.

  • Guest

    The day the Sonics left town was the day I gave up caring about professional basketball.  Just checking to see what other folks are posting.

  • Johnthony

    Reality check: If the team was still in Seattle, it would look *nothing* like it does today. First of all, Wally Walker would still be involved in the daily operations of the team, which would mean that we would still be subject to his brutal, painfully incompetent personnel moves. Second, David Stern would have never fixed the 2007 draft to give the franchise Kevin Durant, nor would he never allow the refs to allow the Sonics to beat the Los Angeles Kobe’s in a playoff series. There is no “Rooting for this team because they were ours,” because, well, they weren’t.

    • Reyemevets

      So Stern told Portland to draft Greg Oden?

  • Johnthony

    Reality check: If the team was still in Seattle, it would look *nothing* like it does today. First of all, Wally Walker would still be involved in the daily operations of the team, which would mean that we would still be subject to his brutal, painfully incompetent personnel moves. Second, David Stern would have never fixed the 2007 draft to give the franchise Kevin Durant, nor would he never allow the refs to allow the Sonics to beat the Los Angeles Kobe’s in a playoff series. There is no “Rooting for this team because they were ours,” because, well, they weren’t.

    • Reyemevets

      So Stern told Portland to draft Greg Oden?

  • jafabian

    Since the Sonics died I have barely followed the NBA.  Only in headlines or the arena saga.  Or how former Huskies are doing in the league.  The Storm and Sounders have more than ably replaced them to me. 

    Donald Sterling is a better team owner that what Howard Schultz was during his time as Sonics principal owner.

  • jafabian

    Since the Sonics died I have barely followed the NBA.  Only in headlines or the arena saga.  Or how former Huskies are doing in the league.  The Storm and Sounders have more than ably replaced them to me. 

    Donald Sterling is a better team owner that what Howard Schultz was during his time as Sonics principal owner.

  • Jamo57

    I have no idea what is going on in the NBA playoffs, I haven’t watched a game since the Sonics left and when the highlights come on TV I change the channel.     The NHL playoffs have been pretty darn entertaining though.

    Having said all that, I am in full support of a new arena getting built here.   Would love to see an NHL franchise here.   And my neighbors and fellow citizens who miss the NBA, have at it and enjoy!

    • jafabian

      I’ll take the NHL.  We’ve seen the NBA and it left a bad taste in my mouth in the end.  Let’s try something new for a change and get something going with Vancouver!

  • Jamo57

    I have no idea what is going on in the NBA playoffs, I haven’t watched a game since the Sonics left and when the highlights come on TV I change the channel.     The NHL playoffs have been pretty darn entertaining though.

    Having said all that, I am in full support of a new arena getting built here.   Would love to see an NHL franchise here.   And my neighbors and fellow citizens who miss the NBA, have at it and enjoy!

    • jafabian

      I’ll take the NHL.  We’ve seen the NBA and it left a bad taste in my mouth in the end.  Let’s try something new for a change and get something going with Vancouver!

  • RadioGuy

    I’m not exactly rooting FOR the Thunder (although I don’t blame the players for the Sonics leaving…they’re just pawns on the chessboard), but I can’t root for the Lakers and still look at myself in the mirror in the morning.  The Lakers are still the damned Lakers.

    I think I’ve watched fewer than 10 hours of NBA basketball this season, and no complete games (maybe the fourth quarter if it’s close).  I’m not ignoring the NBA consciously, but I’ve been able to fill my basketball void by watching a lot of prep hoops and a decent amount of college ball.  It IS possible to enjoy a basketball game without it being the NBA’s version of it.

  • RadioGuy

    I’m not exactly rooting FOR the Thunder (although I don’t blame the players for the Sonics leaving…they’re just pawns on the chessboard), but I can’t root for the Lakers and still look at myself in the mirror in the morning.  The Lakers are still the damned Lakers.

    I think I’ve watched fewer than 10 hours of NBA basketball this season, and no complete games (maybe the fourth quarter if it’s close).  I’m not ignoring the NBA consciously, but I’ve been able to fill my basketball void by watching a lot of prep hoops and a decent amount of college ball.  It IS possible to enjoy a basketball game without it being the NBA’s version of it.

  • Orcaseattle

    They stopped being the Sonics when they left. That team from That burg has nothing to do with us. Just another team. People looking at them and saying that could be us are wrong. Different city four years later is not the same as Sonics in Seattle.

  • Orcaseattle

    They stopped being the Sonics when they left. That team from That burg has nothing to do with us. Just another team. People looking at them and saying that could be us are wrong. Different city four years later is not the same as Sonics in Seattle.

  • Soggyblogger

    Dang, I agree with almost everyone who has written a comment before me on this thread. Well done! Well said! Love to see the Lakers lose. Don’t care much about the OKC Thunder. 

  • Soggyblogger

    Dang, I agree with almost everyone who has written a comment before me on this thread. Well done! Well said! Love to see the Lakers lose. Don’t care much about the OKC Thunder. 

  • RobertComoEsta

    When it was proven that David Stern colluded with Clay Bennet to steal away the Sonics, I stopped caring about the NBA. Even if Seattle gets another team, I won’t watch. I can’t support an organization that has a president that screws fans for his own profit.

  • RobertComoEsta

    When it was proven that David Stern colluded with Clay Bennet to steal away the Sonics, I stopped caring about the NBA. Even if Seattle gets another team, I won’t watch. I can’t support an organization that has a president that screws fans for his own profit.