Tuesday, June 17
Probably, oh, 1/4 of the crowd (?) waits for the guests of honor to arrive (photo: Ravenal "Chunk's Brother" Calonzo)
by Rafael "Chunkstyle" Calonzo
Staff Cartoonist/Unabashed Homer
I can't pretend to know how many people were in the courthouse plaza yesterday afternoon. After all, I was a short dude standing at probably the lowest elevation on the entire block, surrounded on all sides by a sea of green and gold.
If I had to guess, I'd say the crowd easily broke 4 digits; when I relocated the family from one side of the plaza to the other a little before 4:30, we had to squeeze through a solid mass of people that spanned the width and depth of the plaza. The OKC media estimates of "a few hundred" must have been observed at two in the afternoon.
However many people were there, they were making enough noise to rival a sold-out Key Arena crowd with the Supes holding "the lead and the leather." Chants of "Save Our Sonics! (clap-clap, clap-clap-clap-clap)" and "Super! Sonics!" were near-deafening. And when Gary and X stepped to the mike, the volume became nigh ear-splitting.
What our beloved ex-Sonics actually said was suitably thrilling and sentimental, but really, they didn't have to say anything to cast a spell on the crowd. Just the fact that they were there, perched gingerly on a newspaper box (well, GP was, X stayed on the ground), was enough to make the mob go bananas. It's also worth noting that Spencer Hawes was the only current pro who braved the League's wrath by appearing at the event. Gotta love it when the local boys stay true to their hometown.
I'm actually pretty amazed at how many people attended, and the passion that was on display. I've been asked by folks, "What's the point of going to this rally?," as if to say, "They're gone, you're not going to change anything by going." All my blind optimism aside, I disagree. Of course a rally does nothing (and really, should do nothing) to sway a judge's decision. But that wasn't the intent of the event. The rally is a symbol of unity, a gesture of affection. It's something you can point to and say, "People do still care, so stop with the 'no one cares about the Sonics' nonsense."
No matter the outcome of this whole ordeal, I firmly believe the fans have already changed the League's intended course for the franchise. Without the fans, the team would have left last year, no incriminating emails would have been revealed, there wouldn't even be the whisper of a possible replacement team, and there would be jeers from the rest of the country that we rolled over and let someone steal our history.
Finally, much respect is due to Brian Robinson, Steven Pyeatt and the feisty band of volunteers who made the rally happen. If they can put an event like this together for a court case, I can't wait to see what they do for a "Sonics Stay" party.