Thursday, June 28

Back to the Future

It’s been a long time, folks, since the Sonics have mattered to this city. Back in the spring of 1998, the Sonics were fresh off a disappointing loss to the Lakers in the second round of the playoffs. George Karl was given the boot for his repeated playoff failures (replaced by Paul Westphal, who was replaced by Nate McMillan, who was replaced by Bob Weiss ... ) and the Sonics selected a teenager from Texas; a 6’9” skinny freak who could shoot 3’s, dunk, and rebound.

Nine years later, and the Sonics have been on a mediocrity treadmill ever since. The hype surrounding this team has rivaled that of a FOX replacement sitcom airing in the summer.

That skinny freak turned out to be Rashard Lewis, who may well be spending his last few hours as a Sonic as we speak. In less than three hours, the Sonics will add the most highly anticipated player to their roster in franchise history. Oden? Durant? Most likely it’s Durant, and that’s just fine with us. Here’s what it means:

- The playoffs are no longer a remote possibility.
- The Sonics will be on national television. If Cleveland can be on with LBJ and a cast of anonymous role players, then Seattle with Kevin and the Durantians will surely qualify.
- Someone other than Chris Wilcox will throw down an exciting dunk.
- It doesn’t matter anymore if Robert Swift shows improvement.
- Sonics-Blazers games just shifted from Oregon State v Washington State to Washington v Oregon.

I haven’t gotten too enthusiastic about Durant before today, since it truly seemed that Portland might go sideways and take Oden. That still might happen, but it sure seems now that the likelihood is more along 80-20 than the 50-50 it seemed a few weeks ago.

Even more amazing is the feeling that the Durant pick will only be a slice of cheese in a massive Sandwich of Change to come. Lewis, the Sonics’ most-tenured player, an all-star who has averaged 20 ppg for 3 consecutive seasons, is likely out the door as well. Ray Allen, the best Seattle shooting guard since Gus Williams, may be gone. Luke Ridnour, the darling of Howard Schultz, is reported to be heading for Atlanta for a draft pick.

It’s an awful lot for a Sonic fan to digest at once, and when you throw in the whole Muckleshoot Casino-built stadium, Clay Bennett’s Cheney-esque tactics with the city, the lack of a head coach, a thirtysomething general manager ... whew, that’s an awful lot for anyone to digest.

I think I’m ready for Friday. Let’s get it on!


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