BY Art Thiel 03:52PM 06/08/2012

Thiel: OK to boo OKC bosses, but they will be us

Every Sonics fan is fully entitled to rage against OKC’s success in the NBA Finals, but keep in mind the deed we are prepared to do to another town.

Kevin Durant, who showed up unannounced to play flag football on the Oklahoma State campus in November, has become a state treasure. / Wikimedia Commons

When sports hyperventilation is so audible that it begins to drown out jet engines in this town, we need to have a talk.

Oklahoma City’s arrival in the NBA Finals is producing in Seattle some industrial-grade retching, as well as a counter-current of dismissal, the argument being that contempt for the Thunder’s success is a waste of emotion.

For those who insist that Sonics fans get over it: No. Exactly no.

In the ever-increasing compulsion to nanny-state everything, let’s agree to make non-negotiable people’s right to their passions. Of course that doesn’t include passions that endanger or impede someone else’s life or community welfare, but mourning the departure of a sports team and castigation of the people responsible is within the bounds of civic convulsion.

Why do people care about a silly sports team? For the same reasons people care about rock music or classical music or Chihuly melted glass or old cars. These things move people, and it’s a big country with room for a lot of movement.

Consider the opening this week of the LeMay’s America Car Museum next to the Tacoma Dome.

The 165,000 square-foot museum, the nation’s largest dedicated to our fascination with cars, seems to be very cool. Haven’t been yet, but years ago I toured millionaire Harold LeMay’s car collection when part of it was outdoors rusting in the rain. Even then, it was spectacular, and I’m not a car guy.

After a decade of argument and more than $60 million, the museum is open to people who get their freak on over the automobile. From a cultural-value standpoint, it’s neither better nor worse than the Experience Music Project, the Seattle Art Museum and Sculpture Park, McCaw Hall, Safeco Field, Emerald Downs, the Museum of Flight and Seattle Center. They’re all as unnecessary as they are wonderful. The region would be lesser without them, even if not everyone uses all, some never use any and many argue their merits.

Independent of the arguments of who was responsible and how it happened, losing the Sonics was a bad thing, because the franchise was a great, harmless source of connection, aggravation and celebration for the community that grew around the enterprise for 41 years. That aspect was such a small part of the calculation in letting the Sonics go so easily that our town’s principal sentiment ought more to be embarrassment that we let it happen than anger over the perpetrators, however dastardly their deviousness and/or gutlessness.

Which brings us to the other side of the field,  that segment of our burg who, upon the TV sightings of Clay Bennett and Aubrey McClendon celebrating the Thunder’s success, want to throw objects, up to and including small children, at the screen serving up the devil’s handymen.

For the people who want anvils, giant rocks and pianos to fall upon the animated antics of the OKC hijackers, be aware that We are making plans to be Them.

The civic conceit is that we’ll somehow navigate the transfer of a franchise to Seattle with more honor and conscience than did Howard Schultz, the prairie privateers and related miscreants. Really?

Maybe Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer will be lucky enough to buy a dying franchise outright without litigation over a lease (howyadoin’, Sacramento?),  but there will still be politicians, businesses, fans and staffers in the aggrieved town with a massive open wound and a bloody trail that ends in Seattle.

Deep down, every Sonics fan knows this, and rationalizes it away by saying casually that this is the nature of pro sports — eat or be eaten, which in fact has been the motto emblazoned above the door marked “Nature” ever since the first amoeba split in the primeval ocean.

Right now, however, the face of every lover of pro hoops in the region is being rubbed in some peculiarly nasty stuff: Thunder star Kevin Durant, as KJR radio’s Dave Mahler pointed out this week in a particularly decibel-driven rant, well may be the Ken Griffey Jr. of basketball, only without the pouting.

Durant led the Thunder to an impressive four wins in a row over the San Antonio Spurs, a team most everyone believed was tougher than leather chewing gum, in the Western Conference Finals. And the Thunder seem set to beat whatever flawed team, the Celtics or Heat, survives game seven of the Eastern Conference Finals  Saturday in Miami. Given the talented youth on roster that ex-Sonics GM Sam Presti built, it could be the first of multiple NBA titles.

In a championship-starved sports market, the lost opportunity of the Griffey of hoops leading the Sonics to years-long dominance is galling times 10. And it will be abetted daily by media this month that connect the Sonics’ championship history and playoff drama with OKC, which last made a national cultural impression with the Joad family in “Grapes of Wrath.” And they left.

Navigating the emotions of the NBA Finals will be no small feat for basketball fans. They have every right to be unashamed in their disgust with Bennett, McClendon and their Seattle enablers. Yet whatever hoops passion they have left after contempt is devoted to the  dream of walking in their same bloody footsteps.

Maybe the rest of June will be better spent contemplating the moment when Chone Figgins breaks out his Albert Pujols impression.


YourThoughts

  • Tim

    The major difference here is that with whatever team we end up getting, our intentions will be clear up front.  There won’t be any lies, there won’t be any trickery, it will be us taking over a team in trouble and moving it up here.  Sure, those fans will be upset, but if we handle it correctly, it won’t be nearly the same as the Sonics.

  • Tim

    The major difference here is that with whatever team we end up getting, our intentions will be clear up front.  There won’t be any lies, there won’t be any trickery, it will be us taking over a team in trouble and moving it up here.  Sure, those fans will be upset, but if we handle it correctly, it won’t be nearly the same as the Sonics.

  • http://twitter.com/colinperez Colin Perez

    This point is moot. We would be buying a team for the sole purpose of moving it to Seattle. We would not lie about keeping the team where it is located, or commit fraud to get the team out. We will be upfront about our plans from the get go, therefore, we will never ever be THEM

  • http://twitter.com/colinperez Colin Perez

    This point is moot. We would be buying a team for the sole purpose of moving it to Seattle. We would not lie about keeping the team where it is located, or commit fraud to get the team out. We will be upfront about our plans from the get go, therefore, we will never ever be THEM

  • DoxiePa

    Valid, except that I doubt any Sacramento fan feels regret over stealing the Kings from Kansas City. Or Kansas City/Omaha? Or Cincinnati? Or Rochester?

    The Charlotte, I mean New Orleans Hornets are off the table.  Should Memphis be forced to write Vancouver on any gear, or pay players with Monopoly Money?

  • DoxiePa

    Valid, except that I doubt any Sacramento fan feels regret over stealing the Kings from Kansas City. Or Kansas City/Omaha? Or Cincinnati? Or Rochester?

    The Charlotte, I mean New Orleans Hornets are off the table.  Should Memphis be forced to write Vancouver on any gear, or pay players with Monopoly Money?

  • Jamo57

    Navigating the emotions of the NBA Finals is really quite simple.   This form of insanity is very preventable.   Each of us has a remote.   Use it.   Turn the Finals off.   

    Quite frankly, the Stanley Cup Playoffs have been highly entertaining and compelling.   The Kings run has been historic and really unprecedented. 

    I am not against bringing another NBA team here.   I realize many of my fellow citizens and neighbors are basketball fans and I would never stand in the way of how they choose to enjoy life.   I plan to be at the arena rally on Thursday and plan to bring my son.   Of course my interests are in the NHL which I migrated to, to a great degree, due to the stewardship of the NBA by David Stern.

    In terms of keeping my blood pressure down and keeping a degree of inner peace (I can’t quite escape all the noise about the NBA), I choose to do the most simple thing.   Change the channel or turn the tube off and do something else.  

    But you are right, Art, our new team(s) won’t come without a twinge of something negative attached.    That is unless we somehow adopt the Green Bay Packers business model and make all franchises community owned.    But that would be (gasp)  Socialism!!!!   They market to that community feeling in us, but the dirty little secret is they are multi-million and/or billion dollar corporations and we are cheering for corporate logos.

    I have often said the reason I gravitate toward college ball is you can’t move the UW to OKC.   Even that is getting harder and harder to justify as the $$$$ go up and up.  

    I guess you could say I’m managing my addiction  (rationalizing my addiction?)…..LOL

  • Jamo57

    Navigating the emotions of the NBA Finals is really quite simple.   This form of insanity is very preventable.   Each of us has a remote.   Use it.   Turn the Finals off.   

    Quite frankly, the Stanley Cup Playoffs have been highly entertaining and compelling.   The Kings run has been historic and really unprecedented. 

    I am not against bringing another NBA team here.   I realize many of my fellow citizens and neighbors are basketball fans and I would never stand in the way of how they choose to enjoy life.   I plan to be at the arena rally on Thursday and plan to bring my son.   Of course my interests are in the NHL which I migrated to, to a great degree, due to the stewardship of the NBA by David Stern.

    In terms of keeping my blood pressure down and keeping a degree of inner peace (I can’t quite escape all the noise about the NBA), I choose to do the most simple thing.   Change the channel or turn the tube off and do something else.  

    But you are right, Art, our new team(s) won’t come without a twinge of something negative attached.    That is unless we somehow adopt the Green Bay Packers business model and make all franchises community owned.    But that would be (gasp)  Socialism!!!!   They market to that community feeling in us, but the dirty little secret is they are multi-million and/or billion dollar corporations and we are cheering for corporate logos.

    I have often said the reason I gravitate toward college ball is you can’t move the UW to OKC.   Even that is getting harder and harder to justify as the $$$$ go up and up.  

    I guess you could say I’m managing my addiction  (rationalizing my addiction?)…..LOL

  • Fordfarlane_rrd

    I think the worst thing about this saga is the stain on everything pro-basketball related since the move. It’s soiled the sport for an entire generation of basketball fans in Seattle.
    -The bitter feeling of losing the Sonics.-Of knowing Seattle watched the sausage being made here while the fruits of that labor are bearing out as a potential dynasty in OKC.-The bitter feeling of David Stern using our desire for a team to leverage new arena deals in other cities.-Knowing that while me may be more up-front about the team that eventually moves here, it still doesn’t mean our hands will be clean.For me it feels like the only truly guilt-free fan of Sonics 2.0 will be one who is too young to remember them being gone or what it took to reclaim them.

  • Fordfarlane_rrd

    I think the worst thing about this saga is the stain on everything pro-basketball related since the move. It’s soiled the sport for an entire generation of basketball fans in Seattle.
    -The bitter feeling of losing the Sonics.-Of knowing Seattle watched the sausage being made here while the fruits of that labor are bearing out as a potential dynasty in OKC.-The bitter feeling of David Stern using our desire for a team to leverage new arena deals in other cities.-Knowing that while me may be more up-front about the team that eventually moves here, it still doesn’t mean our hands will be clean.For me it feels like the only truly guilt-free fan of Sonics 2.0 will be one who is too young to remember them being gone or what it took to reclaim them.

  • Tim M.

    It is brutal.  We hung with our Sonics year after year.  Then, this.  Yet in spite of how much I can’t stand Bennett and company, we knew they were lying from the get-go even if we wanted to believe otherwise.  Slimy they are, but this really is about an entire city being stabbed in the back by spoiled rich kid named Howard Schultz.  I’m pretty sure he doesn’t lose much sleep over this…just another business deal, but perhaps the success of the Thunder will be a constant reminder of what could have been his glory had he not been such a lame ass back-stabbing cry baby forever stuck on his own sense of entitlement.   Thanks Howard.

    By the way, Starbucks still sucks. 

  • disqus_aEA4p3zFXu

    It is brutal.  We hung with our Sonics year after year.  Then, this.  Yet in spite of how much I can’t stand Bennett and company, we knew they were lying from the get-go even if we wanted to believe otherwise.  Slimy they are, but this really is about an entire city being stabbed in the back by spoiled rich kid named Howard Schultz.  I’m pretty sure he doesn’t lose much sleep over this…just another business deal, but perhaps the success of the Thunder will be a constant reminder of what could have been his glory had he not been such a lame ass back-stabbing cry baby forever stuck on his own sense of entitlement.   Thanks Howard.

    By the way, Starbucks still sucks. 

  • Myk

    The NBA set the standard of how the NBA will work after Seattle. They changed the rules…that is the difference.

  • Myk

    The NBA set the standard of how the NBA will work after Seattle. They changed the rules…that is the difference.

  • jafabian

    Props to the Thunder organization for what they’ve accomplished.  They took a bad Sonics team (though they themselves blew it up when they traded away Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis, the only established players on the team) and rebuilt it thru the draft and smart signings.  When you think about it, that’s the blueprint the Mariners are following and that club is quietly turning things around as well.  (Hopefully.)  Sam Presti has also smartly organized the contracts of his core players as well.  Whether they play the Heat or the Celtics they should have the advantage when the Finals tips off since the Thunder are rested and more importantly have been able to get some scouting in on both teams.  Neither team looks like they match up very well with the SuperThunder and as Sonic fans know, in the playoffs it’s all about matchups.  (Um…Denver Nuggets?)  Presti blends the skills of player development and financial management perfectly and team management gives him the support he needs to do his job.

    Still, I haven’t been watching the series or the playoffs.  Even before the OKC ownership moved the club it was becoming painfully obvious the NBA was catering itself to the upper class fan which my income doesn’t allow me to be a part of.  Former NBA player John Salley once said when he first came into the league it used to be the Detroit auto workers who sat courtside and when he left the Pistons it was the suit-and-tie executives in those same seats.  And he left the Pistons in ’92!  Under David Stern it has become more about the NBA’s bottom dollar and it shows.  Hard to enjoy a game when you can tell the players are more concerned about their incentive clauses than wining the game.  That’s the message the NBA is conveying IMO with their bottom dollar approach and it’s trickled down to the players.  

    Hard to watch Kevin Durant play when he was drafted as a SuperSonic and seemed lukewarm to the idea of going to OKC.  Loved hearing Nick Collison debate with an OKC sport radio disc jockey on why he loved living in Seattle in the off-season even though he played for the Thunder.  Wish players like Nate Robinson, Jason Terry, Spencer Hawes and Aaron Brooks as well as other players from Washington state could have an opportunity to play in Key Arena before the Seattle crowd.  I don’t see any of that changing any time soon.  Not a pessimist as opposed to being a realist.  It’ll be quite awhile before the arena situation to be settled, which is too bad since in a few years the New York Islanders will be looking for a new home.

    Not even the recent troubles of Thunder minority owner Aubrey McClendon, the CEO of the embattled Chesapeake Energy Company and considered to be the money among the Thunder owners, gives any sort of satisfaction to Sonic fans.  If Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels had made the OKC owners finish out their lease instead of setting for a quick buyout they could have very well have been forced to sell the Sonics based on the troubles that McClendon’s company has had in the past few years.  Ah…coulda, woulda, shoulda….

  • jafabian

    Props to the Thunder organization for what they’ve accomplished.  They took a bad Sonics team (though they themselves blew it up when they traded away Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis, the only established players on the team) and rebuilt it thru the draft and smart signings.  When you think about it, that’s the blueprint the Mariners are following and that club is quietly turning things around as well.  (Hopefully.)  Sam Presti has also smartly organized the contracts of his core players as well.  Whether they play the Heat or the Celtics they should have the advantage when the Finals tips off since the Thunder are rested and more importantly have been able to get some scouting in on both teams.  Neither team looks like they match up very well with the SuperThunder and as Sonic fans know, in the playoffs it’s all about matchups.  (Um…Denver Nuggets?)  Presti blends the skills of player development and financial management perfectly and team management gives him the support he needs to do his job.

    Still, I haven’t been watching the series or the playoffs.  Even before the OKC ownership moved the club it was becoming painfully obvious the NBA was catering itself to the upper class fan which my income doesn’t allow me to be a part of.  Former NBA player John Salley once said when he first came into the league it used to be the Detroit auto workers who sat courtside and when he left the Pistons it was the suit-and-tie executives in those same seats.  And he left the Pistons in ’92!  Under David Stern it has become more about the NBA’s bottom dollar and it shows.  Hard to enjoy a game when you can tell the players are more concerned about their incentive clauses than wining the game.  That’s the message the NBA is conveying IMO with their bottom dollar approach and it’s trickled down to the players.  

    Hard to watch Kevin Durant play when he was drafted as a SuperSonic and seemed lukewarm to the idea of going to OKC.  Loved hearing Nick Collison debate with an OKC sport radio disc jockey on why he loved living in Seattle in the off-season even though he played for the Thunder.  Wish players like Nate Robinson, Jason Terry, Spencer Hawes and Aaron Brooks as well as other players from Washington state could have an opportunity to play in Key Arena before the Seattle crowd.  I don’t see any of that changing any time soon.  Not a pessimist as opposed to being a realist.  It’ll be quite awhile before the arena situation to be settled, which is too bad since in a few years the New York Islanders will be looking for a new home.

    Not even the recent troubles of Thunder minority owner Aubrey McClendon, the CEO of the embattled Chesapeake Energy Company and considered to be the money among the Thunder owners, gives any sort of satisfaction to Sonic fans.  If Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels had made the OKC owners finish out their lease instead of setting for a quick buyout they could have very well have been forced to sell the Sonics based on the troubles that McClendon’s company has had in the past few years.  Ah…coulda, woulda, shoulda….

  • RadioGuy

    So in other words, Tim, as long as you let a homeowner know ahead of time that you’re going to take his car from his garage, it’s okay?  Shoot, I really like that 2011 Lexus the guy next door drives…maybe I should write him a note telling him I want to have it and then head to the hardware store to buy a SlimJim before tonight.  Sure, my neighbor will be upset, but I’ll be handling it “correctly.”  It won’t be nearly the same as stealing it.

    • Tim

      If you told me you wanted to take my car from my garage ahead of time, then I willingly sold it to you, fine.  OKC said they wanted to buy my car in order to preserve the legacy of my garage, then when I came to check on it, it was missing.

  • RadioGuy

    So in other words, Tim, as long as I let you know ahead of time that I’m going to take your car from your garage, it’s okay?  Should I write a note telling you I want to have it and then head to the hardware store to buy a SlimJim before tonight?  Sure, you might be upset, but I’ll be handling it “correctly.”  It won’t be nearly the same as stealing it.

    • Tim

      If you told me you wanted to take my car from my garage ahead of time, then I willingly sold it to you, fine.  OKC said they wanted to buy my car in order to preserve the legacy of my garage, then when I came to check on it, it was missing.

  • Cbarlow253

    Howard shults is just as much to blame as clay bennett. They are both doush bags.

  • Cbarlow253

    Howard shults is just as much to blame as clay bennett. They are both doush bags.