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Take 2

A different spin on sports by The Seattle Times staff and readers.

April 23, 2014 at 6:55 AM

Bring back the NBA to Seattle, but don’t call them the Sonics

A fan holds a SuperSonics cap and a sign that reads "robbed," as he attends a fan rally in May 2013 to show support for a failed  effort to buy the Sacramento Kings and bring them to Seattle.  AP photo by Ted S. Warren

A fan holds a SuperSonics cap and a sign that reads “robbed,” as he attends a fan rally in May 2013 to show support for a failed effort to buy the Sacramento Kings.
AP photo by Ted S. Warren


(First of two posts)

Still out there, Sonics fan?  Still holding out hope your team will come back from the dead?

Were you invigorated, then decimated at the failed attempt at doing unto Sacramento what Clay Bennett and Oklahoma City did unto you?

Are you unable to suppress a spark of hope every time Mark Cuban talks of NBA expansion; a pang of pride when Kevin Durant is mentioned as probable league MVP?

Or do you even care about the NBA?  Do you barely turn your head to the airport flat screen that has the Blazers playing the Kings, or the Thunder (shudder) against the Lakers or Spurs?

Relocation or expansion, with Chris Hansen, Steve Ballmer and an arena plan, it seems probable one day soon Seattle will have a new franchise.

Clay Bennett and the NBA (ever sympathetic toward loyal fans) left the SuperSonics name behind.  Understandably, everyone assumes that any new Seattle franchise will be called the Sonics.

Thanks, but no thanks.

Hansen and fans can call it what they want, but it won’t be the same team.

That team, Sonics fan, is dead.

Imagine for a moment Hansen’s future team, Seattle’s future team.  Will you honestly feel the same essential bond with the new, Sonics A.D. (After David Stern) as you did with the original, Seattle SuperSonics B.C. (Before Clay Bennett)?

Such a thing was done in Cleveland.

Does anyone yet look upon the new Cleveland Browns and consider it the same NFL team that Art Modell tore away from the clutching fingers of the Dawg Pound and plopped down in Baltimore?

Retaining the Browns’ team moniker was a superficial whitewash disguising a rotten deed done against the people of Cleveland in the name of greed, a deed supported by an overwhelming 25-2 vote of NFL team owners.

Sound familiar?

Cleveland fans must still feel the pebble under the mattress deep down.

Let’s not fall for the same mistake.  Let’s learn from the good people of Cleveland and not let the league restore its soured image by re-using the SuperSonics name.

Baltimore was better off starting anew with the Ravens.  New team.  New identity.  The perfect name to establish a new, authentic connection with the fan base.

So, yes, build the arena Hansen has envisioned, the arena the league wants.  Within it, design a shrine, our link to the past, our SuperSonics Hall, where the franchise-that-was will always be remembered.

Decorate it with photos, trophies and other memorabilia (that the league has so generously allowed the people of Seattle to “share” with the Thunder).

Thousands of fans gathered in 1979 to celebrate the Sonics NBA Championship.  Vic Condiotti / Seattle Times staff, 1979

Thousands of fans gathered in 1979 to celebrate the Sonics NBA Championship.
Vic Condiotti / Seattle Times staff, 1979

The jerseys of Lenny Wilkens, Spencer Haywood, Fred Brown and Nate McMillan will hang from the newly erected rafters and we’ll still have the privilege of honoring Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp there as well.

But give the new team a new name and let it be a reminder of what was done.  Let’s not pretend it never happened by stealing the name from the corpse.

David Stern, Howard Schultz and Clay Bennett conspired to murder our team.  All three won.  We, the Sonics fans, lost.  So be it.  That doesn’t mean we have to go crawling back to the NBA on hands and knees, kissing bottoms.

Yes to the NBA, but let our beloved team name rest in peace.

Let David Stern and Howard Schultz turning their backs on 40-plus years of Seattle fandom forever be a black mark on their soul.  Don’t give them the satisfaction of appeasing their conscience with the new, Superficial SuperSonics.

Don’t pretend.   If Seattle gets a new team, don’t make believe it’s the SuperSonics all over again.

The first of two Take 2 posts on the NBA in Seattle by Andrew Rothgery. Look for his second post Thursday.

Rothgery has been a lifelong Sonics, Seahawks, Sounders and Mariners fan since he grew up on Bainbridge Island in the 1970s and ’80s.  He teaches Spanish at the University of Oregon and lives in Springfield, Ore.

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