Monday, April 21

Fans No More?

One item never in short supply during this arena saga has been rhetoric. Whether from the league, the new owners, the local media, or your friendly neighborhood blogger, so many venomous words have been spewed you’d have thought Donald Trump owned the Sonics and Rosie O’Donnell was the mayor of Seattle.

Admittedly, and regrettably, yours truly has done his fair share of this. To be honest, this is an emotional issue for all of us, and emotional issues tend to produce venom from even the friendliest snakes.

But one particular aspect I’ve heard repeatedly is the one from local fans works along these lines, “If the Sonics leave, I’m done with the NBA.”

That’s a jarring statement to make, considering how important following basketball is to Sonic fans. Yes, we’re Sonic fans, but we’re also basketball fans. It’s not as though as soon as the regular season ended we gave up on watching hoops. With the staggering Western Conference matchups in the first round this season, you can’t help but watch, right?

Is this really an honest assessment, that you’d go cold turkey on the NBA if the Sonics headed off to Oklahoma City?

Having lived in three states and one province in the past 15 years, I think I have a different perspective than someone who has spent his entire life in the Northwest. While I love the Sonics, I’ve moved around enough to have spent times in my life where I couldn’t easily access information on the team. During those periods, I’ve learned to broaden my horizons a bit, and pick up information on whatever the local media was providing (except hockey; a man has to have his principles). I’m not going to say I’m better than someone who has never moved away, but it’s just a fact of life that it’s not as easy to follow the Sonics in Los Angeles or Vancouver as it is in Seattle.

So, rabid Sonic fan reading this site today: How angry are you? Are you truly willing to cast off the league that gave your memory Kareem’s skyhook, the Iceman’s finger rolls, and Dominique’s 360s? Can you really say that if the Sonics were already gone that you’d pass up the chance to watch Phoenix and San Antonio battle this spring?

Enlighten us, Sonic fans. How angry are you?


Anonymous said...

I can honestly say I might not follow the NBA again. At the very least it will take years of healing before the pain subsides enough for me to forgive and forget.

Anonymous said...

I'm with the few years sentiment expressed above. In the end, if Cleveland Browns fans can forgive the NFL and if Brooklyn Dodgers fans can forgive MLB, then Sonic fans will eventually forgive the NBA.

Of course, that doesn't mean that I wouldn't slug David Stern or Clay Bennett if I ran into either of them at any point in the next 20 years, though.

Jordan Nelson said...

I will never watch an NBA game ever again (with one caveat). Being a huge UW fan and since Brandon Roy was just about my favorite college player ever, I may watch a Portland game here and there to keep up with him. But, at least Paul Allen threw his vote in with Seattle, so I feel okay about that. But yeah, other than Roy, I'm done.

Anonymous said...

I'd have to say that I'd follow that sentiment. I've always told people that I'm not a basketball fan -- I'm a Sonics fan and been as such since I saw my first game as a kid in '81. In fact, I really don't follow any other sport or any other NBA team so I kind of fall into the realm of Sonics fan instead of sports fan, definitely. I'll probably just catch occasional headlines in the newspaper for scores and such but as far as following the league itself [do i really need to know the score of a Minn/Sac game? I don't think so], I'd say that yeah I'm done with the NBA when the team moves and until Seattle gets another one.

Anonymous said...

i wouldnt watch the nba until the playoffs. i would watch sportscenter and stay updated, just not the nba. in the meantime maybe college basketball.

Anonymous said...

No intention on watching the NBA anytime soon. Already started my "boycott" effective with the vote. Skipped over all channels with NBA playoffs, didn't watch highlights on SportsCenter.

I'm a Sonics fan more than I am an NBA fan. In fact, I'm your typical "homer" fan. I follow the Sonics, the M's, the Hawks, and the Dawgs more than I follow their respective leagues/sports. If this team is gone, then I don't want some expansion/hijacked team to follow. Stern has already ruined the NBA for me.

I'm pissed at Stern (for being an arrogant, ignorant A-Hole), Bennett (for stealing the team and being a lying snake in the grass), the rest of the NBA owners - less Allen and Cuban (for being spineless cowards, afraid to stand up to Stern and only looking out for the owners' best interest and not giving a rip about the cities and fans that support the teams), Schultz (for selling the team to an out-of-towner knowing full well that there was a distinct possibility of transplanting the team), and our governing bodies for doing absolutely NOTHING over the last few years and allowing this to happen.

Sooo....I've added the NBA to go along with my Starbucks boycott -- which took effect with the sale to an out-of-towner. And, man, I loved Starbucks and spent a pretty penny there EVERY DAY!

Anonymous said...

If I have to watch this lame duck situation drag out for another two years and then watch the team leave with name & history, I may indeed be done with the NBA.

However, I currently remain a diehard Sonics & NBA fan and am hopefull this ugly mess resolves in the next few months. I'm willing to see the team go now with a buyout, leave the name behind, and take our chances that private interests will eventually come together with an arena plan that will bring a new Sonics team here in the not too distant future. I have no faith whatsoever that the government will ever figure it out.

Art Thiel had a good article explaining this was a failure on all fronts and that private interests offer the best shot at finding a solution.

“Here's how to save pro basketball in Seattle”

mcwalter44 said...

I'm as huge of Sonics fan as most of people here at Supersonic Soul and I've been living down here in the Bay Area for nearly 10 years now and like Nuss said it's definitely not as easy to be Sonics fan when you're not up there in 206. That said, you can get all the news, radio bits, pod casts, blog posting, etc from any were in the world.

Now the the question of will I quite that NBA can be answer in one quick take. "NBA, I can't quite you!"

Shit, I'm such a NBA die hard (border line junkie) that I started buying season tickets to the Warriors 5 season ago when they were a 20 win team. So, no doubt I'll jump on to the Warriors wagon when the Durant and Oklahoma City "Whatevers" take the court. But rest assured that I will always bleed Green and Gold.

Anonymous said...

David Stern's tactics and quotes and the recent ownership vote is going to drive me away from the NBA (once the Sonics are officially gone). I am massively dissapointed/pissed off at the tactics that Stern has taken and I can't believe his short sided views in regards to letting a team with such history move (you don't have the money today...they're gone). I don't understand why a "commissioner" would not do the standard politician thing and try to play both sides of the fence, tell the OK people we want to get you a team and tell the Seattle people, hey we absolutely want to keep a team up there, we'll work with you but you guys need to get a stadium approved up there. Instead he makes threats to the city of Seattle telling us we will eliminate our chances of an expansion team because we're tying up his buddy's team in litigation when all we're trying to do is fight for the team we all love. Should the Sonics go, I am banning the NBA and will never watch another game, expansion team or otherwise.

Anonymous said...

I am a Blazer fan. I enjoy the I-5 rivalry. I don't want it to end. I'm hoping the Sonics remain in Seattle. If the Sonics do move to OKC and Sonic fans choose not to support the team anymore, I'd like to invite you to join Blazer fans in their hatred of the Lakers. The more the merrier! If you love the NBA, it's hard to let it go. However, I don't think anyone would blame Sonic fans for giving it all up.

BK said...

If the Portland games are on FSN like the Seattle games were...I would be willing to follow Portland.

If Seattle is going to get another team...I would follow the NBA.

If Seattle leaves and the Portland games are not regularly on TV like the Sonic games were...I am done. It is too hard to follow a team via the Internet.

I would not mind Paul Allen branching out and hold a few games in Seattle and them the Northwest Trailblazers...I wonder if that would work though.

BK said...

To add on to my above...I would NEVER, EVER watch the OKC team.

Anonymous said...

In my opinion, there are some insults too hurtful, some slaps to the face too hard, and some sins too egregious to forgive. If the Sonics are finally relocated to OKC then there is no way I could ever look at David Stern and the NBA without being reminded of how complicit (especially how enthusiastic Stern was throughout all this) in the destruction of my favorite team.

I'm bitter now, for sure, but I can also see myself cooling off as time goes by, and casually watching NBA games again. I've just moved to Los Angeles, and maybe that'll cloud my anger after the deed finally gets done; perhaps I'll jump on some team's bandwagon while living in a neutral location. However, I'm not sure whenever I see the Lakers, I won't also see tram owner Jerry Buss, who voted to allow the Sonics to move. Or I could gravitate towards the Kings, but what about the Malloof brothers, who themselves are plotting to take away their team from the hordes of great Sacramento fans? In the end I might watch NBA games again, but I don't think I could pay money to these heartless bastards again, and I'm not sure I could EVER be 1/10th as loyal to another NBA team (even another Sonics team) as I was to the original version, seeing how flippant the powers-that-be value it.

A crime will be committed against the people of Seattle when the Sonics move, and -- in my mind -- the NBA will get Life for it.

Anonymous said...

Once the Sonics are gone I will not watch or follow the NBA any more. If we someday got a new team I may go back on that, but as long as Seattle is without the NBA, the league does not exist in my view (just like the NHL). I will still follow college basketball, and I wont cut my ties to the nba until the Sonics are actually in OKC, but as soon as they are I will not watch the NBA regular season or playoffs.

Anonymous said...

To paraphrase a certain TV character, the NBA will be "dead" to me.

I stumbled across the Supersonics and the NBA in 1968 as a junior high kid listening to my transistor radio late at night in northern Canada. Tom Meschery, Bob Rule, Lenny Wilkins, Al Tucker, Rod Thorn, John Tresvant, Al Hairston.... The Sonics and Bob Blackburn on KOMO turned me into a basketball fan - enough of one that I started playing b-ball and ended up playing with middling success in college.

Over the years, the NBA in general has turned me off but I remained a Sonics fan. I watch when they are on TV and I check the boxes every morning after a Sonics game.

However, should the Sonics move, I'm done with the NBA.

Anonymous said...

Great article by John Canzano in The Oregonian about this situation and how Stern blew it as commissioner.

Anonymous said...

As I am from remote Germany I haven't really had that much of a good opportunity to watch Sonics' games over the last years. When I became a fan of theirs in the 90's, NBA basketball was all over German TV (thanks to MJ). It was awesome back then.
But for the last couple of years there's been no NBA basketball on German TV, so all that I was left with was the Internet. It's not the same as watching the Sonics play on TV...
I guess I would still kind of follow the NBA as I am doing it now via Internet, but of course the most important thing, which is a team to support and root for and suffer with ... that will not exist anymore. I won't change to another team, that is for sure.
I remember my dad asking some years ago, when Detlef Schrempf was traded to the Blazers "Why aren't you supporting the Blazers now?". It was understandable because he had been my favourite player on the Sonics (primarily because of his nationality, closely ahead of The Glove). But I had come to love the Seattle Sonics team, no matter the roster. It was easy to say No to Det and Yes to the Sonics. Memories...

Anonymous said...

If the Sonics move, I'm done.
Kinda strange that I care so much, if you consider that I haven't been back to Seattle since my family moved away in '91, when I was in fifth grade...

I don't think I'll be able to help myself from watching playoff games on TV, but I'll never pay for a ticket again. (In LA, DC and NY, I'd always attended whenever the Sonics were in town).

Well, maybe 10, 15 years from now when I have a kid, I might consider following the local team for his/her sake. (The kid should be given the chance to enjoy the NBA, right?)

Anonymous said...

I wonder how David Stern would explain how his "internationalization" of the game has gone in Germany. Going on what you wrote, steff, it was easier to follow the NBA 10 years ago than it is now. Call me crazy, but shouldn't every Dallas game be on in Germany? Sounds to me like Stern's policies have been somewhat of a failure.

Mr. T said...

I've been a Sonic fan ever since I moved to Seattle in 1979 as a 9 year old. My mom played racquetball at the old Supersonic club and while she played her games I would sneak into the gym to watch the team practice. In the early 1980's we lived close enough to Jack Sikma's house that me & my friends would play doorbell-ditch there just to see him stick his blond permed head out the door to look around. John Johnson's kid was on all my brother's boy's club teams (football, basketball, soccer). When K.C. Jones coached the team he moved in next door to us, and would come over when my brother & I were shooting baskets in the drive-way and play with us. In 1990 I bought weed from a guy who said he also sold it to Shawn Kemp. I've loved the Sonics for coming on three decades but I won't quit the NBA. Not that I watch many games anyway (they're generally so boring I can only stay interested if the Sonics are playing). My anger is towards Howard Schultz. When you own something like the Sonics that has such meaning to a community, you have a special responsibility not to f#@$ it up. And he did. I'll never buy Starbucks again.

Anonymous said...

Great stories!

Now, please go edit your blogger pic; there is no need for anyone to ever see that picture. It makes Ron Jeremy look like Jimmy Smits.

Anonymous said...

Great post... I agree with what you are saying. I've gottne tired of everyone says "I'm done with the NBA" if the sonics leave.

We'll see how long people follow that... Talk is cheap, especially if you've been a fan for a long time. I AM A HUGE fan of the Sonics, but I will not "punish myself" from watching great players in great games, just because they leave.

Unfotunately, at the end of the day, Stern lied, Bennett, lied, the city officials sucked, etc. , etc., but I will still continue to watch basketball. I love the game much more than I love a particular team.

Don't get me wrong everyone, I WANT THE SONICS IN SEATTLE. But, not watching the NBA, when I really want to and still have fun with it, will do no good toward bringing them back if they move.

So, in summary. I'm NOT angry enough to stop watching a game I love to watch.

Anonymous said...

The way I see it Seattle city officials and state legislators failed to unite behind a plan to renovate KeyArena. So you can cry and be mad at Oklahoma city but you lost them.

Anonymous said...

I'll be sure to make a poster of your comment and mail it to Oklahoma City. Stick it on your wall and look at it 10 years from now when Bennett begins complaining about not being able to make money in Oklahoma City because of the market size, etc, etc.

Look, I'm not being an a$@ here because I hate OKC, I'm just being honest. I love the NBA, and I think Oklahoma City should have a team if they really want one. But if you can't see the writing on the wall about this situation, then you're being blind. EVERY small market owner eventually starts complaining about his arena. It happened in Charlotte, it happened in Milwaukee, it happened in Seattle, it happened in Indiana, it happened in San Antonio it happened in Portland, it's happening in Sacramento. It just goes on and on.

Like I said, tack that poster on your wall so you'll remember what you said in 2008.

Anonymous said...

"I wonder how David Stern would explain how his "internationalization" of the game has gone in Germany. Going on what you wrote, steff, it was easier to follow the NBA 10 years ago than it is now. Call me crazy, but shouldn't every Dallas game be on in Germany? Sounds to me like Stern's policies have been somewhat of a failure."

Back in the 90's NBA basketball was all over German TV. Magazines, live games ... the whole package. All Star Game, every Finals game. It was much easier.
Then at some point (around the time Nowitzki came into the league) the number of live games was reduced and the magazines (one hour summaries of one of last night's games) were shifted to broadcasting times around midnight.
And then for the last couple of years (I think it's been four or five years) there was no NBA basketball on German TV at all. Nothing. And, yes, that means the time when Dirk Nowitzki rose to all star-dom. When he became freaking MVP! Of course, logically, with a player from our country being among the best in the world (and that one season even THE best), we should get NBA basketball (and if it only were the Mavs' games) every day. But that is not the case. I heard that there is one Austrian player in the NHL and since he entered the league Austria's been showing NHL stuff on their TV channels every day.

There was however a little improvement last December, when it was finally managed to show 30min of NBA basketball a week (there even were four live games as kind of a welcome gift in the beginning, three of which were Mavs' games).

So that is what a country with one of the best basketball players on this planet has: 30 minutes of NBA basketball a week.
Which means that your totally right. Stern's internationalization thing ... well, it has not happened in Germany.

Anonymous said...

The difference between the Sonics and the Cleveland/Brooklyn situations is the amount of gleeful support this theft is receiving from the man in charge of the league. If the Sonics do leave, I might some day come back to the NBA again, but not until Bennett and Stern are distant memories.