Thursday, July 31

SSS Hall of Fame Inductee #2: The Reign Man


Words: Peter Nussbaum Illustration: Rafael Calonzo Jr.

The Reign Man

Once upon a midnight dreary, while we fretted weak and weary
Waiting for a redeeming hero like someone from long before
While we waited, nearly sleeping, suddenly there came a creeping
As of someone gently peeping, peeping at our polished floor
“‘Tis only a teenager,” we muttered, “peeping at our floor
Only this, and nothing more.”

Ah, yes, now we see him, the days are shorter, it’s mid-December
And the teenager, he is now much older than he was before
Flies from floor to ceiling, with a power that was quite appealing
With a graceful majesty that bespoke of the greats of lore
A greatness we’d see again so often, but never had before
Nameless here for evermore.

Presently our souls grew stronger, hesitating then no longer,
“Oh, great one, do never leave us, it is of this our hearts implore”
And for a time it seemed he would never dream of leaving
Adultation he was receiving, greatness stretching on ever more
With a touch and power few had equal and none had more
Greatness there, and nothing more.

Onto the heights of warmer June his skills would one day take us,
On the magic carpet he’s riding, no matter what the score
“Thank you, thank you great one,” the crowds stand chanting
While his opponents were left panting, panting on the floor
Smiling, he’d leap even higher, even higher than before
Then, exhausted, sit, and nothing more.

The years began a-counting, the first-round losses mounting
Muttered rumblings of discord come flooding through the door.
Coaches more and more demanding, and a waistline e'er-expanding
Less running now and much more standing, no matter what the score,
All are wond’ring what has become of the man-child from before
Quoth the Reign Man, “Nevermore.”

Writers questions are repeated, a face begins to look defeated
Fans full of memories of their favorite highlights of yore.
He floats through the league, first with drugs, then with drinking
All are wondering what he’s thinking, thinking of nothing more?
They cling to dreamings, pleading return to where he’d left before
Quoth the Reign Man, “Nevermore.”

So an owner so beguiling, always talking, never smiling
Snatches team, leaving only memories of gold jerseys they had wore.
All the while the fans remember, oftentimes in November
Of the great one who they had worshipped on that floor.
In their heads they see him flying, giving anything to once more adore
Quoth the Reign Man, “Nevermore.”

With apologies to Edgar Allen Poe.

Monday, July 28

Trading Cards

Growing up a baseball fan, I collected baseball cards, naturally.

Well, perhaps “collected” isn’t the correct verb. A more apt description of my activities would be “obsessively acquired,” although even that falls short of the level of activity. Reading the backs of those flimsy pieces of mass-produced pieces of cardboard – oh, it was a joy, maybe even more so than the eerie visages peering out from the front.

Born in the early 70s, I didn’t begin collecting until the late 70s, and my knowledge of baseball history at that age was limited. So I was puzzled as to why a whole group of men played for Cincinnati – Rose, Perez, Griffey, et al – and then left so suddenly. Or why Sal Bando, Bert Campaneris, Reggie Jackson, and Joe Rudi all quit playing for the A’s in the mid 1970s.

But the best was finding players with a “Senators” or “Washington” marker on their career statistics. To a young boy in the early 1980s, the Washington Senators were as mysterious as the Whig Party, an unknown entity only revealed through reading Toby Harrah’s curriculum vitae. What happened to the Washington Senators?, I wondered. Were they a latter-day incarnation of Jamestown, wiped from the face of baseball by some unexplained calamity?

I experienced this same phenomenon when the Vancouver Grizzlies left my adopted home a decade ago, and the scattered Sons of Vancouver began to disappear from the face of the NBA. A Michael Dickerson here, a George Lynch there ... before long, the majority of them had vanished into the land of memory. (Barring a Felipe Lopez sighting, there are six former Vancouverites still on NBA rosters: Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Mike Bibby, Aaron Williams, Othella Harrington, Damon Jones, and Stro Swift).

The astute reader can ascertain where this conversation is headed. For heaven’s sake, I hope so. We are now entering a post-Sonic world, a world in which children born in the last five years will grow up completely unfamiliar with the exploits of Gus and DJ and Gary and Shawn, who will think of Kevin Durant the way I did of Jeff Burroughs – a remnant of a long-ago era. Children who will wonder what it was like to see the word “Sonics” emblazoned on a uniform, and why it was that the team stopped playing in Seattle after the summer of 2008.

And that’s when you realize that being ignorant of the real story – as I was about the Washington Senators or Charlie Finley’s A’s – is best after all.

Harlequin Bureau

As you know doubt have heard by now, typing in redirected the reader to a site devoted to two very nice ladies involved in some sort of decorating business. Deadspin spread the word about the humorous bit of misdirection and we all had a nice laugh.

So, imagine my surprise today when I typed in, and this turned up. It's a video of the song Just Dreamin' from the group Harlequin Bureau.

The group's MySpace page notes that the band's influences include The Cure and New Order, which, ccoincidentally, are the same bands Clay Bennett took his wife to on their first date (and, yes, that's a joke).

Not sure what any of this discombobulation of websites means, but perhaps someone in the band's management company is just a frustrated Seattle Sonics fan like the rest of us.

Friday, July 25

Did You Know?

Nancy Lieberman is older than ...

Michael Cage
Curt Warner
Eddie Johnson
Terry Porter
John L Williams
Ricky Pierce
Dave Krieg
Orel Hershiser
John Stockton
Alaskan statehood

Payton Memories: Part II

I was going to say when he "stepped up like a MAN" (in KC's immortal words) during the '92 playoffs against Golden State, hitting some late game free throws to seal the upset victory over the Warriors. Or the incredible half-court alley-oops to Shawn Kemp (of course, most of the credit for those should go to the Reign-Man I suppose.

But really, my favorite memory is running into him in the parking lot across from the Key during his rookie year and realizing we were about the same height (I'm 5'9). Six-four my ass!

Definitive song: "Naw, Not in My House" - Sir Mix-a-Lot

("Hand in Glove" by The Smiths just didn't seem right).

Stern to Schultz: Watch Out

Apparently, hypocrisy is not limited televangelists and Republican congressmen.

According to Greg Johns' article in the Seattle PI today, Howard Schultz received an interesting phone call from one David Stern around the time of the settlement between the city of Seattle and Clay Bennett.

You'll recall that Bennett and Stern both claimed the city was trying to bleed them dry and force a sale, a tactic the two of them bemoaned at every opportunity. Stern, especially, turned his personal Sarcast-O-Meter up to 11 at the press conference announcing the relocation of the team, and minced no words in disparaging the city's motivations.

And, yet, here's Stern less than four months later, in conversation with Schultz after Schultz refused to sign on with the settlement agreement. According to the former Sonic owner, Stern said that "if I did not join in the settlement, I should realize it will become very expensive for me and my partners and he implied that I should reconsider my position."

Normally, at this point, the author could throw in an "unbelieveable" or "this is ridiculous" comment about Stern, but, honestly, is there anything this Castro-esque figure can say that will surprise us anymore? Stern's message to Schultz isn't that his lawsuit is impossible or without merit, but that it would "become very expensive," the classic line used by the mafia and cigarette companies.

Congratulations, Mr. Stern. Just when we thought you couldn't get more petty and manipulative, you manage to surprise us once again.

Thanks For the Memories: Part I

(SuperSonicSoul will spend the day today reliving memories of Sonic great Gary Payton. Pete offers up the first piece, to be followed as the day goes along by the other two members of the SSS team. Feel free to add yours in the comments section.)

Picking a singular Gary Payton memory is tough. Perhaps because he had so many great moments as a Sonic that they begin to cloud the brain, and picking out the best one is akin to picking your favorite fireworks display.

Strangely, I’m going to opt for the 2001-02 playoffs, when the Sonics lost a five-game series to the Spurs. San Antonio was the #2 seed, the Sonics #7, so Seattle obviously had no business winning, much less contesting, the series.

The NBA was abuzz that season with the Spurs’ rookie point guard, Tony Parker, a 19-year-old phenom with the speed of a Corvette and the handling to match. Payton, at 33 years, was seemingly at a huge disadvantage against the youngster, and when the Spurs routed Seattle 110-89 in Game 1 behind Parker’s 21 points, well, the writing appeared to be on the wall.

Parker’s reign as the Next Big Thing wouldn’t happen right away, though. Payton rebounded to lead the Sonics to a surprise Game 2 victory, finishing with 21 points, 11 boards, and 5 assists while holding Parker to 4-of-11 shooting. Even better, Payton keyed a defensive stand that held San Antonio scoreless for the final 5 minutes of the game, no mean feat for a road team in the playoffs.

When a solid Parker outing led the Spurs to a Game 3 win, however, the Sonics were in trouble once again and vultures began circling, eyeing hungrily the bones of Payton’s career. With a win-or-go-home option staring them in the face, and Rashard Lewis sidelined by injury, Seattle turned to the greatest player in team history to deliver the goods. On May 1, 2002, in what would prove to be his last hurrah as a Sonic, Payton looked deep within himself and found some of the magic he once displayed so frequently in the Emerald City. Granted, the absence of both Tim Duncan and David Robinson was the pivotal factor in the Sonics’ dominating 91-79 win, but Payton’s 28 points, 12 rebounds, and 11 assists – his second career playoff triple-double – were equally important, at least to devoted fans of the green and gold.

Better yet, the Glove owned Parker on both ends of the court, as the rookie hit only 3 of 13 shots and finished with a mere 14 points, half of Gary’s total.

Sadly, it would be his final playoff appearance at KeyArena, the site of so many of his triumphs. As a fan watching on television, it gave me no small bit of pride to see the once-proud warrior stand tall against the fresh challenger, and to prove once more that he, Gary Payton, was the best point guard on the court.

Thursday, July 24

SSS HOF Inductee #1: Gary Payton

The Glove

Words: Peter Nussbaum | Illustration: Rafael Calonzo Jr.

How does it happen?

How does a man so menacing, so scowling, so intense become so beloved?

How does a brash youngster from Oakland by way of Corvallis become the most treasured player in four decades of Seattle basketball?

So many questions, all coming back to the same answer.


Gary Payton’s given middle name may have been Dwayne, but to those of us who followed his career in a Sonics’ jersey, his true middle name was always Intensity. His 1,335-game career was built upon a foundation of ferocious defense, perhaps more than any guard in history.

Ask yourself: How many other guards earned nicknames because of defensive skills? Are there any beyond Payton? He wasn’t “The Glove” for the way he stroked teammates’ egos, he was “The Glove” because of the way he clung to opposing guards like a wool sock to a freshly laundered towel.

Relax and remember Payton now in your mind’s eye. Not the GP that wandered the NBA like Odysseus for the final years of his career; that wasn’t The Glove. I mean the Payton who dominated his position for a decade in Seattle, the Payton who inhabited the All-Defense Team as if it was his summer cottage.

What do you see when you turn on the film projector in your mind? Is it the chest-bumping menace, arms stretching ever-outwards – as if he was part Plastic Man and could reach all the way around a man from both sides? Perhaps you see him poised in his defensive stance, shorts hiked up with a snarl – oh, that menacing snarl! – daring his opponent to try and drive past him? Is it the way he snapped off jumpers with disdain, as if he couldn’t believe he had to settle for an outside shot when all he really wanted to do was drive into the forest of big men? Maybe you see Payton artfully lofting the ball to an absolute perfect apex up-up-up for Kemp to snatch it and throw it back down-down-DOWN through the cylinder, a roller coaster of delicate passing and violent dunking so utterly incongruous it defied description?

For me, that rickety film projector always plays the same clip. It is Payton cockily trotting backwards up the court after yet another knife-like incision into the paint, his head cocked sideways, mouth wide open, words spilling out faster than an Al Sharpton sermon. It wasn’t enough for Payton to beat you, he wanted you to know you had been beaten, that he was going to beat you again the next time, and the time after that, and the time after that, and if you didn’t watch yourself, he was going to take the ball right from your ha .... crap, there he goes!

To me, the pinnacle of Payton’s tenure wasn’t the 1996 NBA Finals but two years previous, during the infamous 1993-94 season. The trio of Payton, Nate McMillan, and Kendall Gill only lasted two seasons in Seattle, but it was two seasons of utter hell for opposing guards. Three guards, three defensive demons, all three capable of a steal at a moment’s notice.

Just how fantastic were Payton and his Co-conspirators? The NBA has kept track of steals since the 1972-73 season, and in those 35 years, two teams have managed to pass 1,000 steals in a season – and one of them was the 1993-94 Sonics (if you know the other, tout your knowledge in the comments). So great were the Sonics that season that the second-place team was closer to seventh than to first. The incomparable McMillan led all individual players in steals despite averaging a scant 26 minutes, and Gill and Payton both cracked the league’s top ten, but even those amazing figures don’t tell the whole story.

The Sonics were like religious fanatics that season, and assistant coaches Tim Grgurich and Bob Kloppenburg were the resident preachers. The whole team (well, perhaps not Ricky Pierce; never Ricky Pierce) drank in their defensive mantras, and the most apt disciples were Gill, McMillan, and Payton.

Imagine yourself an opposing point guard that season. Perhaps you’re Spud Webb of the Kings, and you’ve been given the role of bringing the ball up against Gary Payton. You receive the inbounds pass and turn backwards as you approach half-court, but Payton starts bumping you with his chest, forcing you to spin sideways so you can gain an angle. Out of the corner of your eye, you see McMillan inching off his man, eyes intensely focused on the ball, waiting for you to let up for just one second. You pivot around again, trying to get by Payton so that you can just pass the ball to someone – anyone – and be done with these vultures. But he won’t let you get by; Gary wants you to do the work. The shot-clock ticks downward, urging you to cross the line before a violation is called.

Finally, you make it past half-court, and now McMillan has given up the charade of guarding his man – why bother, the idea of you passing the ball was laughable to begin with – and now he’s bearing down on you and the two-headed monster – McPayton – has you by the throat. As Payton slaps at the ball for the sixth time in the last eight seconds – or was it McMillan? who can tell? – your willpower begins to fade. Who can withstand this fury? Finally, Payton wins, Kemp sprints down the court, snatches an alley-oop, the crowd screams, Garry St. Jean beckons for a timeout, and you trudge back to the bench, only to see Gill taking off his warmups.

It never ended.

Well, that was every night in 1993-94 – every night until the Denver Nuggets and Dikembe Mutombo ... no, we won’t talk about that part today.

But back to Payton (wipes blood from forehead after aborted attempt at lobotomy). I don’t think it’s a stretch to make the claim that he’s the greatest player in team history. To wit:

- Franchise leader in games, minutes, points, assists, and steals
- 18,207 points scored, or as many as Gus Williams and Xavier McDaniel combined
- Nine-time all star
- Nine times 1st, 2nd, or 3rd-team All-NBA
- Nine times 1st-team All Defensive Team
- Of the ten best single-season PERs in team history, five belong to Payton

Admittedly, Payton was not the perfect player. His antagonistic attitude towards rookies was frustrating to the team’s development, and his undying confidence in his abilities – so useful on the court – proved to be his undoing off it, as he wound up being on the losing end of a battle with Howard Schultz. At the time of his trade to Milwaukee for Ray Allen, most fans bemoaned the move, but looking back it was obviously a wise one.

That said, there’s no point belaboring the argument of his place in Sonic history. Gary Payton is the greatest Sonic ever and will be the first (only?) drafted Sonic ever inducted into the Hall of Fame. He is the Alpha and the Omega of Seattle basketball. There is no “if only” with Payton because he never left the door open to questioning – he played seemingly every minute of every game he could in a Sonics’ uniform with a manic fury unrivaled in Seattle sports history. A history of the SuperSonics without Gary Payton would be like a history of the United States without Abraham Lincoln, a history of rap music without Public Enemy. He may not have been the first or the last, but his importance is as undeniable as his will to compete.

Have I said enough? Perhaps. I’ll yield the floor, then, to the man himself, with words from his appearance at the Save Our Sonics rally a month ago.

“You guys have always supported me, and I’m supporting you,” Payton said, the crowd chanting his name as if it was 1996 once again. “And there ain’t nothin’ going to be stamped on my chest but Sonics when I go into the Hall of Fame.”

Still intense. Still beloved.

Wednesday, July 23

A Word

I thought that before we dive in and commence with the honorations and hollerations, perhaps it would be a good idea to explain just what in the heck this SuperSonicSoul Hall of Fame is.

First, it is NOT:

1. A statistical list of the greatest players in Sonic history. That's boring, and you don't need us for that; you can just spend 10 minutes at for that sort of thing.

2. The funniest players in team history, or the coolest hairdos, or anything like that. This is (slightly) more serious than that. Although, now that you mention it, who would win a Hair-Off between Jack "Dutchboy" Sikma and Michael "Soul-Glo" Cage? And would that be the final pairing, or can we fit Slick Watts in there for his (lack of) hair? And what about Mickael Gelabale, where does he fit in? Would he win a Braid-Off against Chris Wilcox? But I digress ...

This IS:

1. Our list of who we feel are the 10 greatest players in Sonic history, based on 1 part statistics and 3 parts emotion.

2. Our move to preserve the history of the team.

3. A great chance for Sonic fans to spill their guts about their favorite players, and to share their memories of same.

The plan is thus - first, on every Thursday we'll announce the inductee with a glowing tribute combining Chunk's talents with Photoshop and mine with a typewriter. On every Friday, we'll present a favorite memory of said inductee from each of the three of us, some musical background from Paul, a few YouTube videos, and whatever else we can scrounge up. In the comments, you can purge your soul of your favorite memory of the inductee; whether that be the time you bumped into Gary Payton coming out of a strip club, or the time you spilled half a can of Rainier all over your sofa when Kemp dunked on Lister in the playoffs, or when you got into a near-fistfight with a Blazer fan about the relative merits of Nate McMillan and Terry Porter (raises hand meekly).

Now you know where we're coming from. See you tomorrow.

Supersonicsoul Hall of Fame: First Inductee Tomorrow!

Oh man, just wait 'til you get a load of Pete's introduction "speech" for our first ever inductee. It'll make you weep.

Speculating on the first member of The Most Esteemed Make-Believe Sports Hall of Fame may begin... nnnow.

Tuesday, July 22

Calabro turns to Sounders--will you?

(photo by Jim Bates / Seattle Times)

Kevin Calabro has turned down a lucrative offer to follow The Team Formally Known As The Sonics (TTFKATS) to Oklahorrible and instead will stay in town as the voice of Seattle's new MSL team, The Sounders.

Now, I've never been a huge soccer fan, but with KC calling the games, I might be converted. Hmmm, I wonder if the Sounders have any good blogs? SuperSounderSoul anyone?

Friday, July 18

It's Gettin' Better All the Time

The headline we've all been waiting for.

"Latest Donaghy news raises chance of Congressional investigation"

From Michael McCann of, in reference to the ongoing story involving telephone calls between Tim Donaghy and Scott Foster. Rep. Bobby Rush of Illinois is more than a little interested in the scandal, and, being that he chairs the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection, that interest is not just a passing one.

Raise your hand if you want to see David Stern try to use his condescending attitude on a member of the House of Representatives. Me, too.

Thursday, July 17

Different Type of Statistic

Normally, we only run basketball statistics here, but I thought you might be curious to see another comparison today. The chart shown above has a start date of July 2007 and details the stock performance of two companies. The blue line is Starbucks, Howard Schultz' empire, which has seen its value plummet from $28.60 a share to a low of $13.33.

The red line? The red line belongs to Chesapeake Energy, Aubrey McClendon's company, which has seen its shares go from $33 to $57.

Apparently, not only did Oklahoma City swipe Seattle's basketball team, but its mojo as well.

Wednesday, July 16

Another Brick in the Wall

Per RJ Bell of, Tim Donaghy's telephone buddy, Scott Foster, is nipping close at Donaghy's scandal-infected heels.

According to Bell, Foster refereed seven games which involved lopsided wagering during the 2006-07 period currently under investigation. In those seven games, the betting was enough to move the line by at least two points, and in all seven instances the big money in Las Vegas wound up winning.

As Bell points out, this could just be a statistical anomaly. In case you're wondering, though, the odds of it occurring 7-out-of-7 times?

Less than 1%.

(found via Deadspin).

SSS Hall of Fame

When I was just a little child,
Happiness was there awhile.
Then from me, yeah, it slipped one day.
Happiness, come back, I say.
'cause if you don't come, I've got to go
Lookin' for happiness.
Well, if you don't come,
I've got to go
Lookin', Lord, for happiness, happpiness.

—Bob Marley, I’m Hurting Inside

Weeks after the decision that peeled the Sonics from Seattle like an old bandage, the exposed wound lingers, a pain which demands acknowledgement.

Summer league results dribble out of Las Vegas and Orlando, but the reasons for following them have vanished. Free agent nomads wander the NBA summertime desert, but their camels will not rest at our tent, because Seattle’s oasis has dried up.

My inclination is still to check the websites devoted to basketball in an attempt to scour out possibilities for the future of the Seattle Sonics – a backup point guard here, a trade there, hey, now we’ve got something! – but that inclination dwindles with each day. The sheer triviality of pro sports – camouflaged for so long by the joy associated with following my favorite team – is now painfully obvious.

And so, the reader asks, what is the point of Supersonicsoul? A fair, if painful, question. Likewise, a difficult one to answer.

On the one hand, to quote Gertrude Stein, there is no there there. Stein’s witty rejoinder referred to Oakland, her hometown, but the thought is apropos of this site. A website devoted to a team that pulls up stakes and moves away is devoid of meaning. Following the Oklahoma City team makes us pathetic, and what else is there? (You, in the back, saying I should root for the Blazers? I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that).

However, news continues to trickle out of the possible Howard Schultz lawsuit, and the shred of hope that Schultz’ legal eagles will prevail remains.

Better still, David Stern’s stranglehold on the NBA continues to loosen, with some beginning to trumpet the possibility of King David abdicating his throne. Stern, the man responsible more than anyone for foisting Clay Bennett upon the good people of Seattle, is also responsible for the icy relations between his fiefdom and this region. His Nixonian defiance of events notwithstanding, the Tim Donaghy saga may finally bring his reign to a close, and with a new commissioner, anything Seattle-related is possible.

But those events are in the distant future. What of the present? What should this website offer its readers, other than odd stories on Jim Farmer’s singing career, Kendall Gill’s future as a pugilist, or Shawn Kemp’s offspring?

Well, we’re attempting to answer that question by offering a bridge between the ghosts of Sonics past and the ghosts of Sonics future.

When author Sherman Alexie testified on behalf of Sonic fans everywhere this past June, he stated that the players were more than mere athletes, they were modern-day versions of Greek gods. It was an enjoyable and hilarious ode to the joy of being a Sonic fan.

And the famed Seattle author is right – in the sense that the players give inspiration and hope to thousands. With that nugget of inspiration in mind, we’ve decided to create our own, ramshackle version of the Greek Pantheon – the Supersonicsoul Hall of Fame.

Beginning next week, we’ll present to you a member of the Hall, with a new member to be unveiled in each of the following weeks. More than just statistical charts, each piece will offer a tribute by our in-house artist, Rafael, as well as memories and anecdotes by Paul and myself (well, mostly myself; Paul’s busy completing his doctoral thesis on the cumulative effects of napping).

At present, the Hall is slated to hold a dozen or so members. Naturally, there will be debate as to who should have been excluded or included, but that’s the whole point of the project, really; it’s to remind all of us why we loved the Sonics in the first place. More than the games themselves, it is the recollection of the games and the people who played them which matters most. It’s the memory of Detlef’s haircut, Sam’s flat-footed threes, Kemp’s dunk at MSG, McKey’s nonchalance, Haywood’s brilliance, Shelton’s elbows – it’s all of that and much, much more.

As Bob Marley wrote, I’m hurting inside, because happiness has gone away. But if happiness don’t come my way, well, I’ve got to go lookin’ for happiness.

Monday, July 14

Where Are They Now? Jim Farmer

We’ve covered plenty of former Sonics in our sporadic “Where Are They Now?” series. From Dana Barros’ off-court troubles, to Sam Perkins at a Barack Obama rally, to Sedale Threatt’s son’s success as a college football player, we’ve seen plenty.

But we hadn’t seen it all. Not by a long shot. For slipping through the cracks was one Jim Farmer.

When I say Jim Farmer, your first reaction as a Sonic fan is most likely, “You mean the guy who used to pitch for the White Sox?”

No, dear reader, not Ed Farmer, the erstwhile hurler of the Pale Hose, I mean Jim Farmer, as in the fellow who put up 5.3 points per game in his five NBA seasons. The Jim Farmer who we lauded for a surprising dunk more than 15 years ago.

What is Farmer up to these days? Teaching youngsters his patented, 180-degree hand clap? Tutoring bench filler on the proper way to retrieve missed jumpers at a shootaround? Has he gone into, ugh, farming?

None of these. Rather, Jim Farmer has gone into ... singing.

No, I’m not kidding. In fact, check out if you don’t believe me.

Back? Were you as mesmerized by those beautiful baby blues as the author was? Did you feel the urge to purchase Farmer’s latest CD “Baby Come On”? Does his new “hit” single, “She Is,” make you want to jump up and dance?

Honestly, had you asked me yesterday, “Pete, out of all the former greats to wear the green and gold, which former Sonic would you say is most likely to record an album?” my response probably would have ranged to Derrick McKey or Sam Perkins.

But Jim Farmer? A singer? Only Danny Fortson going to work as David Stern’s personal assistant would top that one.

Thursday, July 10

Uni Watch Contest

I suppose I should take the high road here, but, what the hell, David Stern and Clay Bennett had no trouble acting like spoiled children, so why can't I?

Paul Lucas, author of the wonderful Uni Watch blog and associated site, has issued a call to his readers to help design a logo/uniform for the new Oklahoma City team. With that in mind, perhaps a few designs from inspired Seattle Sonics fans are in order? After all, while our ideas might not fly with the NBA's marketing department, I'm sure our informed and talented readers are certainly capable of coming up with some, well, interesting designs for what Clay Bennett's team should be wearing this year. You can email Lucas via the site, or, if you like, submit them to us via the email at the top of the page (robotmonster AT If SuperSonicSoul Editor Paul checks his email, you might even see your design on our site!

As always, keep it classy, please. No cursing, no references to bestiality, no tornadoes, etc.

Basically, try not to act as if you were from Oklahoma City.

Good Old Days

Let the nostalgia begin.

Wednesday, July 9

Check's In The Mail

Under the product description, I’m surprised the words “Hardly used” were missing.

KC Still the Voice of the Sonics

There are times when you wonder if your faith in someone is justified, if the adulation you express is rational, or purely emotional.

There are times when you grow frustrated with the double-speak coming from the mouths of politicians and celebrities, when the "stay-on-message" mantra of our age becomes anethma to your ears.

Then there are other times.

Thank you, Kevin Calabro, for giving voice, once again, to Sonic fans. Thank you, Jim Moore, for giving him a platform. Calabro, for so long more than a broadcaster to those of us in the Northwest, has not gone with a whimper, but with a bang. Generals may fade away, but great play-by-play broadcasters, apparently, do not adhere to that notion.

To wit:

The NBA? "A league run by a commissioner that disrespected [Seattle] and the region."

The Sonics' new arena proposal to Olympia? "A nebulous, vague plan for some building in Renton, which didn't excite anybody."

City officials? "I was enraged that our council members would sit up there and titter and laugh nervously and congratulate themselves over being part of a 41-year history being sold."

There is much than just those snippets, so I urge you to read the whole article. Thanks again to both Calabro and Moore for showing that frustration, embarassment and anger are not emotions just limited to fans and bloggers.

Tuesday, July 8

Believe in The Wheedle!

I'm almost desperate enough to bid on this. Sigh.

The Fiddler

Well, I suppose I could cover the summer league game that took place in Orlando yesterday, but, honestly, does anyone here have any interest in how Oklahoma City did last night?

I thought not.

So, instead, let's focus on Vincent "The Fiddler" Askew's new role as the General Manager of the LA Push of the ABA. Askew has been coaching now for nearly a decade, including a three-year stint in Italy, one year with the Albany Patroons, and a couple of seasons as a high school coach (seasons which were marred first by the use of ineligible players then by recruiting violations; it appears he learned more than a few tricks from his time working with John Calipari at Memphis).

Wait, what's that? You say Askew isn't the new GM of the LA Push? That he accepted a role as the coach of the Kentucky Mavericks only two days after taking the LA Push job?

Well, good for Vinnie. You had to know he wanted to put the foul taste of last year's job with Albany out of his mouth, and what better way to do it than to be the head coach of ...

Now, wait a minute. You're telling me that Askew dumped the Wildcats after four days and decided to take the LA job after all? That he claims he resigned, but the Kentucky front office claim he was fired? After four days? But why, Vincent, why?

“It’s not that I’m greedy or anything,” Askew said to the Bowling Green Daily News. “But it was just one of those things where it needed to be a bit more, I have a family, a house and kids to think about also.”

Ah, the children, it's always about the children, isn't it?

Monday, July 7

Quick Hits

A quick review of what city various websites are associating with the Sonics as of July 7, 2008:

ESPN: Seattle
SI: Seattle
HoopsHype: Seattle Seattle
Yahoo: Seattle

And, finally, please be sure to finish chewing your food before reading this story, because it’ll be tough to swallow. I’ve never been divorced, but I’m guessing that this is the equivalent of seeing your wife riding around in a Jaguar XJS while you’re at home washing the Dodge Stratus.


I'll attempt to avoid being too maudlin with this post (Lord knows there has been more than enough anguish to go around this past week), but allow me to offer a few words of praise from a website that has been forced to hand out kind words as often as the Bush Administration hands out art endowments.

Sonic fans are quite lucky to live in a city with three major dailies. Luckier still, we've been blessed for the past couple of years with writers who have never stopped investigating the neverending Sonics-to-Oklahoma story. Unlike The Oklahoman, which forces its writers to check objectivity at the door, in Seattle we have writers who rarely miss a chance to explore a story from all angles, even angles that are detrimental to the city in which they reside.

While some Sonic supporters have castigated these writers (Percy Allen at the Times, Gary Washburn at the PI, Eric Williams at the TNT) for not being all-out supporters of the team while it was in Seattle, those, like me, who appreciate a free press have not. The three main beat writers have also been supported by people like Jayda Evans, Jim Brunner, and Greg Johns, who dug into this story and illustrated it for their readers. I, for one, am appreciative of their efforts.

In many cities, those paragraphs of praise would be the end of it. But a complimentary story on the media in Seattle would not be complete without offering thanks to the man who has provided more memories than anyone in Sonic history — longtime play-by-play man Kevin Calabro.

Calabro gives his devoted listeners a rare combination: a love of the game teamed with a fantastic voice and a unique style. For more than an entire generation, it was KC who taught us to "get on that magic carpet and ride" and to "get on up for the downstroke." Bob Blackburn may have been the Abraham of Sonic broadcasters, but Calabro was the Moses.

While still attending college, I travelled up to Seattle for Christmas break one year, and with friends in tow, attempted to get to a Sonics game. Like all early-20s endeavors we were long on intentions and short on execution. Having missed the opening tip, we were driving in a frenzy through Seattle looking for a bar to watch the game. Calabro kept us up to date on the car radio, as he has for so many others over the past decades. At one point, Shawn Kemp rose up and threw down what must have been an especially memorable dunk.

"Oh, Reignman!" Calabro intoned, "Nobody do the voodoo like you do!" It was a singular moment that drew a massive cheer from our overcrowded car, and it was a moment that stays with me to this day. A great broadcaster is more than just a voice on the radio or television, he is a friend sitting alongside you, a representative for you at the game.

Thanks, KC, Percy, Gary, Eric, and all the rest. You've made being a Sonic fan more enjoyable. I hope there's more to come.

Thursday, July 3


Part and parcel with yesterday’s settlement is an assumption that no expansion teams are in the NBA’s foreseeable future.

Meaning, of course, any team bearing a Seattle Sonics’ jersey in the future will be doing so because another city’s NBA dreams have gone up in flames.

Leading yours truly to wonder: Is it worth it? After spending the past few days (well, months, really) bemoaning our fate and dispensing venom in every direction at the evil which is relocation, are we ready to be the league leaders in hypocrisy?

Color it however you like, but taking a team from another city makes us no better than the good people of Oklahoma City, and makes Steve Ballmer no better than Clay Bennett.

(Well, actually, Ballmer has yet to buy a team in another city, start the relocation process before the ink had dried on the contract, call himself a man possessed to not relocate, and then indulge in lascivious emails with the league commissioner. Perhaps he wouldn’t be as low as Bennett.).

As I was saying, do we want to prey upon the bones of another city’s misfortune? Personally, I’m leaning to the “No” side of that question, and it’s not that difficult to see why.

I’ve utilized the divorce analogy before for this situation; with Seattle as the mother, PBC as the father, and Sonic fans as the child. Well, to carry that metaphor to its logical conclusion, luring a team here from another city is the equivalent of your recently divorced mom wearing a halter top to your t-ball game, hoping her cleavage is enough to convince your friend’s dad to abandon his wife.

It’s all well and good for you to have a new dad, but what about your friend, who now has to hope that his mom is as good at flirting as your mom?

Okay, it’s a messy analogy and we’re beginning to paddle into some unseemly, oedipal waters at this point, but I think my point is clear: after enduring the past year and a half of turmoil and heartache, do we really want to be the ones causing that same pain to another group of people?

I’m sorry, but I wouldn’t want to be a party to that. And that is why, to my way of thinking, the only solutions to this whole sorry situation are either a victorious Howard Schultz lawsuit or an expansion team.

Any other answer is just too hypocritical for me to swallow.

Moving Along

drawin': Raf / writin': Pete

Amount of money spent by Clay Bennett to move the Sonics to Oklahoma City:

City of Seattle, June 2008: $45 million
Additional money, 2013: $30 million
Relocation fee: $30 million
Losses, 2007-08 season (est.): $20 million
Losses, 2006-07 season (est.): $20 million
Moving fees (est.): $15 million
Legal fees (est.): $2 million

Add it all up and you come to a total of $162 million.

Why is this important? Because the cost of renovating KeyArena is now pegged at around $300 million, but, back when the team was sold, Howard Schultz was looking to spend about $225 million to renovate the building. After purchasing the team, Bennett indicated – repeatedly – that he had no interest in contributing any of his own money to the project (which eventually morphed into a completely new arena in Renton, at a price tag of $500 million).

And yet, Bennett has now committed more than half of that total just for relocating his new toy to Oklahoma City. If Bennett had just offered two-thirds of that figure - $100 million – while in Olympia fourteen months ago, yesterday would never have happened, and the state would have easily passed the bill to either build a new facility or renovate KeyArena. Further, by indicating that he was interested in helping the team, the miserable attendance figures of the past two years would have been considerably better.

Instead, Bennett kept his money in his pocket, because all along he had no interest in doing anything to keep this team here and a major interest, obviously, in getting a team for Oklahoma City.

$162 million goes a long, long way in this world. Apparently, though, just not in Seattle.


Wednesday, July 2

Loss of Innocence

Your 1979 NBA champion SEATTLE Supersonics

A lot of words and tears will be spilled in the next days and weeks as all of us seek to describe what has happened to the Seattle Supersonics. After 41 years of heartache and happiness, 41 years of Kemp and the Glove and Gus and DJ and all the rest, trying to distill the emotions of what transpired will be difficult, if not impossible. But allow me to offer up a small window into how I'm feeling this afternoon, though.

When I was a boy growing up in Seattle, one of my most prized possessions was a special edition of the Seattle Times from 1979, the year the Sonics won their (can we say only now?) NBA title in Seattle. It was chock full of anecdotes, statistics, game recaps, and other bizarre tidbits of information. In those pre-computer years, it was a delightful mishmash of stories, obviously put together by editors and writers who were just overjoyed to be doing the work.

As the years passed, the newspaper yellowed. I've moved quite a bit since leaving Seattle; first Oregon, then Southern California, now Vancouver. Somehow, that newspaper always managed to tag along with me. Every so often, maybe once or twice a year, I'd open it up and read through the stories again and it never failed to make me smile, to put an extra hop in my step.

Now, though, I don't know if I could bear to read it; that special section became a little less special today. Not because I was convinced the Sonics would never leave, but because a small part of me hoped they wouldn't. That small part of me that scoots to the edge of my seat when the Sonics are involved a close game; that small part that makes me pick up and phone Raf or Paul when the Sonics do something extraordinary; that small part of me that imitates Xavier McDaniel when I'm shooting hoops by myself.

After what happened today, that small part of me isn't doing so well right now.

Team Leaving

Well, it appears that $75 million is the magic number.

The City of Seattle accepted a cash payout of $75 million from the PBC to allow the Sonics to leave their home of 41 years and move to Oklahoma City. That amount may or may not be repaid by Clay Bennett, et al if the city were to receive another team in the Sonics' stead.

As you would imagine, more to come.

Judge's Statement

Here's what Judge Marsha Pechman had to say via statement regarding today's ruling:

The parties have settled the case. Details of the settlement will be released by the parties.

Roughly translated:

Because neither side was capable of coming to an agreement until their game of chicken had both cars teetering on the edge of the cliff, I was forced to preside over this nonsense for a whole week when I could have been watching Judge Judy DVDs instead. Thanks alot.

Settlement in Works?

I saw this first on the Daily Oklahoman, and my first thought was, "Well, there isn't a grain of salt big enough to take with that sketchy story." A settlement? Sure, it's nice to ponder, but the attribution in that story was rather light.

Now, however, we have some more information. From The Seattle Times:

"It looks like [a settlement], but I'm afraid what little I know is sworn to secrecy until after the mayor's press conference," said [Seattle City Councilmember Jean] Godden.

From the PI:

"A spokesperson for City Attorney Tom Carr said their office was not aware of [the settlement]and was not planning any comment until a scheduled 5 p.m. press conference by Mayor Greg Nickels."

Wait and see.

Dear Marsha

cartoon: Raf / words: Paul

Dear Marsha,

I know you're probably pretty busy today, with your big Seattle vs. Sonics decision coming up this afternoon, but I just wanted to drop you a quick note to tell you thanks for all your hard work. Going into it, you probably thought it was going to be an open and shut case. You and me both, sister!

I mean, a lease is a lease, right? This should have been like an uncontested, open-court dunk from the Reign-Man. Instead, the city looked more like a drunken Squatch, fumbling, stumbling and bumbling its way into a humiliating self-check on the rim. "Poisoned well?" Ouch.

But I'm hoping you can see past the feeble attempt by the home team (we Seattle sports fans should be used to that) and see the bigger picture: Clay and his boys entered into a lease they had no intention of honoring. If you decide for Team Bennett, it's basically telling them that if you've got enough money, then the rules don't apply, further emboldening other fat-cat corporate scumbags to do the same thing.

Now, I know I'm a little biased here. I can recite every SuperSonics roster since 1978. I have an Xavier McDaniel action figure. I not only remember Vincent Askew, but I can do an uncanny imitation of his layups. I'm a fanboy's fanboy.

But this decision isn't just for die-hard Sonics fans — it's for every sports fan in the country. If this can happen in Seattle, one of the biggest media markets with some of the most loyal fans in the country, it can happen anywhere. Siding with the Bennett Boys is saying it's OK for David Stern and the NBA to blackmail fans and non-fans alike into paying millions of dollars for needless new arenas. It's telling them it's OK to squeeze out the working class fans to make room for high-priced suites for corporate goons who couldn't care less about basketball. It's telling the fans "You don't matter".

At 4pm today, when you post your decision, you are either going to side with common, hard-working citizens or spineless, corporate pirates. I hope you make the right decision.


Paul Merrill

p.s. Did I tell you how lovely you look today? Also, your hair smells terrific.

O Canada

So I take a four-day vacation from the site to enjoy the wonderfulness of Canada Day, and what do I miss?

- Sonics watch Serge Ibaka walk away to Spain - an event not entirely unexpected.
- Mickael Gelabale and the Sonics severe their ties
- Earl Watson broke his thumb, and will likely be out for up to four months, possibly putting the brakes on the expected Luke Ridnour Sweepstakes, but possibly not
- The Sonics announced their summer league roster

And, finally, today is the big day, court-wise. Judge Pechman will announce her decision at 4 pm via the court's web site, and speculation is running rampant.

Obviously, everyone is an expert in these sorts of things, regardless of their knowledge of the case. Personally, I have no idea whatsoever how she will rule, but that doesn't preclude me from offering a guess. After all, what is a blog for if not for uniformed guesswork?

So, allow me my two cents to say that Pechman will rule for the team, with an outside chance she goes totally off the map and doesn't issue a ruling at all, instead rolling this case up with the Schultz lawsuit. Call it pessimism, call it fatigue, call it what you wish, but while I'm not entirely convinced one way or the other after a week's worth of testimony, I just have a gut instinct that's how it is going to fall.

Feel free to chime in with your expert opinions in the comments section.