Monday, December 3

Stormy Weather

When Meriwether Lewis and William Clark completed their transcontinental voyage to the Pacific Ocean in 1805, they wintered on the Oregon Coast. Having never spent a winter in the Northwest, the pair and their crew had no idea what was to come.

Days and weeks of rain and the less than balmy weather combined to ruin their spirits – so much so that Lewis was to claim later that that winter was tougher than almost any other part of the expedition.

Northwest winters are uniquely dispiriting, and when your local sports teams offer: 1) a woeful Pac-10 team, 2) a mediocre NFL team which will win its division in spite of itself, and 3) an NBA team bent on fleeing the city, it doesn’t get any easier.

The Sonics’ case is especially tough to endure. As someone who has rooted for this team for more than two decades, through some bad but mostly good times, I don’t think I’m exaggerating to say this year’s squad is the least interesting of them all.

Sonic history is littered with enjoyable teams, both good and bad. But for a team to grab a city’s heart, it must make an emotional attachment, it must have a personality. Even the more recent Sonic vintages, the Allen and Lewis gang, were still able to reach us because of the greatness of those two players.

But this year’s team? I’m not buying it. It is the combination of two factors: the seemingly bright future of the franchise combined with the likeliness that none of us will ever reap the joy. That agonizing irony pervades everything related to this edition of the Sonics.

After all, why should we get emotionally involved with a team which will leave us when it’s ready to become exciting again? Even worse, what if they stay and Clay Bennett claims a massive financial reward (i.e., a new facility) in exchange for his extortion? Can we divorce our disgust at his machinations from our affinity for the team?

Perhaps I’m expecting too much from the Sonics. As a boy, it was easy to transpose my team’s greatness with my own, but I’m old enough now to know better. As adults, we’re able to hide the silliness of rooting for a bunch of strangers behind the pure enjoyment of the rooting. But when the people running the very organization for which we’re rooting blatantly destroy that organization, it becomes difficult to hide the foolishness of the whole situation.

I know people in Oklahoma City will think this to be reflective of Seattle’s overall apathetic attitude for this ongoing saga. Their eagerness for the Sonics is supposed to trump our big city blase, but that’s only because they have yet to experience the pain of watching a team you’ve supported through eight presidential administrations being used as the knot in a game of tug of war.

Make no mistake, this is a terrible team. A 3-15 record does not happen by fluke any more than a 15-3 one does. But there is more to it than that. Even before Mr. Bennett has backed up the moving vans to the KeyArena doors, it seems as though the Sonics – the Sonics we know anyway – may have already left.

18 comments:

Eric Reynolds said...

If I knew the Sonics were staying, I wouldn't mind the won/loss record one bit, in fact I'd be cheering for the #1 pick in the next draft. But if they're leaving, I wish they would have kept Ray and Rashard and played them with Durant and gone out on a slightly higher note. As it is, I have no idea what's going to happen and have been largely ambivalent this year despite enjoying watching Durant and Green.

nba said...

Take a look at nbablogs.info Almost all NBA blogs from each team.

rich king said...

this is torture

Sportszilla said...

Honestly, I'm not sure I see the situation in the same light at all. Sure, it would suck if the team left, but that's a given.

How you can say this is the least-interesting team in Sonics history is beyond me. Really? Less interesting than the last decade, except the 04-05 team? At least this squad has some hope for the future: both Durant and Green look like the real deal.

The w/l record sucks, and seeing the team lose is hard, but the pieces are starting to be assembled. I'm much happier the on-the-court product is heading in the right direction...we just have to hope they stay here in Seattle.

Sure, the specter of the move looming over the entire season might dampen your spirits, but to call this team uninteresting proves you don't appreciate what it takes to build a long-term winning ballclub. It's not an endless stream of 62-20 season...you've got to lay the foundation at some point.

howard u said...

Sportzilla, I think you just reiterated Nuss's point by saying, "long-term." It's doubly bitter because they are laying the foundation for a winning ball club in a city that may not be able to reap the benefits. It's "least-in-our-interest-to-follow-the-team."

Rock said...

How can anyone say the "on-the-court product is heading in the right direction." Last year we had two established stars, both of whom now lead their teams to the top of their divisions. In exchange, the Sonics have all the old problem players, plus Wally & Delonte and two rookies. Okay, the rooks will be good someday, but as a team the Sonics are in shambles.

In my opinion, a rebuilding requires putting core players together and trying to build a new culture. Presti talked about culture, but it was all BS.

The truth is this team is headed to the cellar floor so that (1) the fans could be discouraged from supporting the team, giving management a legal excuse to bolt for OKC, and (2) management is hoping for a high draft pick in 2008 draft. This is not the right way to build a team, but it is a great way to create a farm club for the likes of the NBA elite, such as Dallas, Phoeni and Boston.

anonymous #12 said...

I've followed the Sonics since the mid-70s and this is by far the least interesting team they've had, imo.

you've got to lay the foundation at some point.

Still waiting on that foundation... right now, the Sonics have a couple of bags of cement ready to be poured, but first they have to pull out all of the rotting timbers.

Laker Hater 17 said...

I find it distressing that so many people are taking such a short sighted view of this situation. Putting aside the obvious conflicting emotions of financially supporting a team that is crafting its exit strategy, the product on the floor is more exciting than it has been in a decade. Shouldn’t the goal of every team be to win a championship? The team as it was constructed every year since Shawn Kemp bailed, has never had that chance. I for one was tired of watching the Sonics toil for 41-45 wins just to be fodder in the first round.

Sure I’d love to see us win some more games, but if you combine the Durant, Green nucleus with another top 5 pick (which looks like a given at this point) in a loaded draft and you have yourself a team with the pieces to win it all. If you go to the arena every night expecting wins you’re going to be disappointed; but if you go expecting to see a young team getting better with every game and laying the groundwork for greatness it’s pretty damn exciting.

anonymous #12 said...

Sure I’d love to see us win some more games, but if you combine the Durant, Green nucleus with another top 5 pick (which looks like a given at this point) in a loaded draft and you have yourself a team with the pieces to win it all.

That is utter bullshit. Three pieces does not a contender make. It's going to take several years to put the proper role players around what is currently a miniscule nucleus.

the product on the floor is more exciting than it has been in a decade

You're obviously quite easy to please. Personally, I find dreadful point and post play, along with the inability to run nothing but isolations, along with a zone defense that allows the team to get killed from beyond the arc, combined with blowouts and 4th quarter collapses, to be the most dreadful, boring ball I have ever witnessed.

I am judging this team, this year. I don't look at the crap product on the floor and get all warm and fuzzy inside on the mere hopes and dreams for the future. Sure, they MAY be good in a few years. They ain't now.

Sam K said...

Anonymous #12,

I have a question for you:

Ignoring the potential relocation and examining the situation purely from a basketball standpoint, would you rather cheer for the current incarnation of the Sonics or the perpetually mediocre Ray/Rashard version?

At least with the present roster I can legitimately dream of championships at some point down the road. In 2 years, we will have no bad contracts, 2-3 budding stars (Durant, Rose/Mayo/Beasley, and maybe Green) and unlimited upside. I'm willing to suffer through a year or two of terrible play in order to reach that point.

And I agree that the product on the floor is pretty painful to watch. But at least it's unpredictable. Sure there will be some ugly losses, but there will also be nights like last Friday against Indiana where you leave the arena in complete shock because you just saw a skinny 19 year-old kid dominate an NBA game.

anonymous #12 said...

would you rather cheer for the current incarnation of the Sonics or the perpetually mediocre Ray/Rashard version?

If I had my druthers, tonights starting line-up would be:
Earl Watson
Ray Allen
Kevin Durant
Chris Wilcox
Kurt Thomas

I always want a team that at least has a snowballs chance in hell of making the playoffs.

Sam K said...

That's definitely a fair answer. But I have to revert back to LakerHater's comment about a championship being the ultimate goal. By the time Durant matures, Ray will be a washed up 15 ppg jumpshooter. I think we have a better chance of becoming an elite team if we build our core (Durant, Green, '08 pick) through the draft so that our studs all hit their stride simultaneously. We can then use our cap space to surround the core with savvy veteran role players.

Laker Hater 17 said...

"That is utter bullshit. Three pieces does not a contender make. It's going to take several years to put the proper role players around what is currently a miniscule nucleus."

Interesting that you’re saying that three pieces doesn’t make a contender when you are clearly pining for the days when we only had 2 (Ray & Rashard). Role players are something we currently have in abundance in people such as Damien, Nick, Delonte and Swift and players of that caliber are relatively easy to find. It is players like Durant that are the true cornerstones of franchises and turn those role players into great teams.

"You're obviously quite easy to please. Personally, I find dreadful point and post play, along with the inability to run nothing but isolations, along with a zone defense that allows the team to get killed from beyond the arc, combined with blowouts and 4th quarter collapses, to be the most dreadful, boring ball I have ever witnessed."

You use those points like it’s unique to this season but that’s been the script for the past 6 years. Even when we were winning it was because of three point shooting, not a steady PG or low post presence. What PG did we lose from last year that you enjoyed watching so much? What post player is now killing the league on some other team? Nothing about watching an overmatched team lose every night is pleasing, but the lottery and Kevin Durant handed this franchise a lifeline. I for one am going to enjoy the experience while I can and (assuming they stay obviously) enjoy telling the next generation of fans that I was there from the beginning and didn’t have to wait for them to start winning consistently before I could be a fan again.

anonymous #12 said...

I suppose I might've had a bit more of your attitude if I knew the team was going to be here beyond 2010. Right now, it feels like i'm watching a farm club for a future pro team in Ok City.

Re. Ray: I've always felt Durant would've developed better next to another star. By the time Allen's contract ended, KD would've been ready to be the man (as well as having a few playoff series under his belt) and the cap space would've been used to fill a missing piece. Watching Wilkins trying to be the man is killing me, but who else is there?

AK1984-stats=zero said...

AK1984 strikes again as anonymous #12 ? You are so easy to spot. Remember kids, anonymous=LOSER!

anonymous #12 said...

I'm not Ak but I appreciate his posts. He's never been afraid to use his name in response to any of the weak-assed insults hurled his direction. Try again, hypocrite who won't post his own name.

anonymous #12 said...

BTW: I've been the only one going by anonymous #12 on this site. Isn't that good enough, or must I use the same name that I use at SonicsCentral (which oddly enough, also doesn't happen to be my real name)? What a joke.

anonymous #12 said...

Pants by 27 to the Bulls... God we suck!