Thursday, September 29

Most Offensive Thing You'll See Today (Now With Bonus Update!)

Or any day. Ever.



As always, Supersonicsoul is late to the party on this one (hey, it's not my fault that I don't obsessively follow Twitter and Facebook; I've got kids on my lawn!).

Anyways, it looks like the whole fiasco started with Off-Season.

Who created this mess, you ask? Well, that's a fellow named Mark in Florida, who thought it would be clever to piss off every one who ever lived in the 206 area code at some point in their life. Here's the tag line Mark came up with to sell his "product:"

You can't bring the Sonics back to Seattle but we've done the second best thing: bring the old Sonics logo to Oklahoma City. Maybe that's not the second best thing, but bitter Sonics fans and converted Thunder fans alike can now rep with pride!

Okay, that's just stupid, but whatever. Clearly, Mark didn't care if he ruffled a few feathers if it meant he could double his usual t-shirt sales to, I don't know, six, I guess. (Zing!). Unfortunately, that's when things started to get a little ugly for our friend, Mark, as the Bring Back Our Sonics entity on Facebook got wind of it, and their followers started harassing the heck out of poor, silly Mark. To make matters worse, it appears that ol' Mark wasn't even born in the US, and, indeed, is an ESL fellow, meaning he probably never anticipated the crapstorm he was about to walk into.

But back to NBA Offseason, the purveyors of this garbage. After numerous emails, voice mails, and complaints from Sonic fans, they issued this statement (shown in partial form here):

The intention with this particular shirt was to highlight the Seattle Sonics situation. The Oklahoma City Thunder are originally from Seattle and should still be in Seattle. There never was any malicious intent with it. We were not attempting to be disrespectful of a passionate fan base; we were highlighting the difficult situation between Sonics and Thunder fans, in our own humorous way.

Again, as lame as lame can be. While someone who wasn't born in this country might be able to hide by a language defense, the people at NBA Off-Season should have known that this sort of thing would have bothered the heck out of Sonic fans. Even worse, I can't see anyone in OKC considering buying this piece of crap either, which means it was just a crass attempt at bolstering their pathetic company's name.

Good work, fellas.

Bucky, Brisker and a Beretta

One of the briefest tenures in the Sonics' head coaching chair belonged to Bucky Buckwalter, who "led" Seattle to a 13-24 record during the 1972/73 season. Perhaps his only notable accomplishment with the club was being the last white guy to coach the Sonics until George Karl nearly 20 years later.

Anyways, Buckwalter is about to be inducted into the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame (and no, smart aleck, it's not because he lost to the Blazers as the Sonics coach), and the former Portland executive regaled Matt Calkins of The Columbian with some great early 1970s hoops stories, including this classic involving the legendary John Brisker:

... a couple weeks later in Detroit, [Brisker] introduced Buckwalter to his two brothers — both of whom had just been released from prison and were seeking tickets.

Buckwalter provided them with two just behind the Sonics’ bench, but quickly regretted the decision as the brothers bombarded him with complaints about Brisker not being on the court.

“Settle down!” Buckwalter snapped. “He’ll be in in a second.”

That’s when one of the brothers pulled back his jacket and revealed a gun.

“I looked down the bench and said ‘John, get in,’ ” Buckwalter recalled. “It was about then I realized head coaching was a perilous job.”

The rest of the article makes for great reading, although, sadly, there aren't any other firearm stories to be had.

(Via The Columbian).

Wednesday, September 28

Sonics Fans and the Lockout

With the Sonics leaving lo those many years ago, I think it is safe to say that Seattle's NBA fans have fallen into two camps: Those that still follow the league and those that wish David Stern would choke to death while in mid-scoff.

That in mind, I'm curious how most folks around here regard the impending lockout. For many of us, the thought of not having pro basketball on television for a prolonged period is a horrifying prospect. For others, the idea of seeing owners, players, fans, and everyone else be forced to endure what we have endured - even if for only a year - is a schadenfreude-filled joy.

So, in which ring do you cast your hat? Are you rejoicing at NBA armageddon, or are you biting your fingernails with anxiety at an NBA-free winter?

Thursday, September 22

Must Read: The Sonics & Pearl Jam

If you haven't read it already, be sure to visit Seth Kolloen's wonderful story on Deadspin about how the Sonics and Pearl Jam were so marvelously intertwined during the 1990s. Even though it's nothing new to die-hard Sonic fans/Seattlites, it's still a fantastic read.

Tuesday, September 20

Warning: David Stern Rant

According to the LA Times, David Stern is the best commissioner in all of professional sports, and while it is difficult to argue a subjective analysis, it is easy to argue the facts the author lays out in Stern's defense.

Helene Elliott points out that - while the ongoing lockout has tarred his legacy - Mr. Stern will leave office as the best leader professional sports has known. To prove it, she quotes Scott Rosner, the associate director of Wharton Sports Business initiative at the University of Pennsylvania:

"To think about where this sport was when he took over in the early '80s, so many teams losing money — the majority of the teams losing money — the Finals were on tape delay in many markets across the country, and David has brought that league to where it is."

Point One - Tape Delay
This is a falsity, and an "associate director of Whatever" should know it. Stern became commissioner of the NBA in 1984 and CBS began broadcasting live coverage of the NBA Finals (and playoffs, for that matter) in 1982. Only a fool would give Stern any credit for that achievement. Is it possible that some markets were still opting to tape-delay the games in 1984, even though CBS was broadcasting them live? Certainly, but to think that Stern's leadership - and not the Lakers/Celtics phenomenon - was the main factor is beyond ludicrous, it's just flat-out idiotic.

Point Two - Profitable Teams
Excuse me, but are we not in the middle of a lockout caused by the fact that nearly all the teams are losing money? How is this any different than the situation Stern inherited 30 years ago?

Stern - and his boosters - cannot have it both ways. If, as he claims, the NBA is bereft of profitable teams, then he needs to take responsibility for that. If, however, he is a great commissioner and his teams are making bundles of money, then why are they trying to bend the players over a park bench?

Just because David Stern had the good fortune to get his job precisely when Larry Bird and Magic Johnson were leading the pre-eminent franchises in the league and months before the greatest professional athlete in American history was set to debut for the Chicago Bulls doesn't mean he's a genius, or the best commissioner in America, or any of that crap.

It just means he was pretty damned lucky.

Wednesday, September 14

Name That Sonic: Lumberjack Division

Can you name this hirsute Seattle Sonic from years gone by? I've obscured the jersey number just to make it less than completely obvious.

Tacoma Sonics? Oh, Please

The Tacoma City Council, seemingly intent on getting their names in the newspaper this week, have put out the question: What would it take to make the Tacoma Dome an acceptable arena for either the NHL or the NBA?

Of course, the correct answer is lots of strippers, but the council isn't interested in that, they're more interested in how much money it would take to get the 29-year-old building into something resembling pro-sports-ready status. $45 million? $145 million? $3.1 billion?

Anyone with a nickel's worth of common sense would tell you that there is no way 17,000 people are going to make the drive down I-5 at 6:30 to watch a basketball game (Anyone out there remember what it was like in 1994-95? Care to re-enact that fiasco? I didn't think so.).

And that's what it boils down to. It's conceivable that the NHL would give it a look, but even that's pushing it. Any professional sports team in this region that wants to be successful is going to need to draw people from the greater Seattle area, which means either a team in downtown or on the eastside, not Tacoma, no how matter how much money they put into renovating the Tacoma Dome.

(via Bellingham Herald)

Tuesday, September 13

Sonic Library: This Game's the Best

No team in Sonics history received more attention than the mercurial Payton/Kemp team of the 1990s.

Despite the fact they never earned a championship, that team had no fewer than four books written about it which, combined with the fact that the teenagers that followed that crazy bunch religiously are now in their 20s and 30s (and, gulp, 40s), means the Reign Man and the Glove will forever be in our consciousness.

Three of the four books, Full Court Pressure, Black Planet, and Men of Steal, focused mainly on the players, but one of them, This Game’s the Best turns its spotlight on the third performer in Seattle’s three-ring circus: George Karl.

Karl, who penned the book with Don Yaeger, comes off as nothing more than a curmudgeon who hates everything about the NBA except for the basketball itself, and he’s not thrilled with that bit all that much either.

This Game’s the Best goes into great detail about Karl’s life, from boyhood in Pennsylvania to somewhat-stardom at North Carolina to his (brief) career as an ABA guard to his years bouncing back and forth between the CBA, NBA and Europe as a head coach, all of which make for fantastic reading. Karl was (is) famous for his unvarnished opinions, and there aren’t too many members of the coaching fraternity who would on one of their brothers, as Karl does with Pat Riley:

“This is a game of hard work, of teamwork, of discipline, of commitment. It is more a daily attitude. But to listen to Pat Riley, he represents himself as if he’s smarter than we, the other coaches, are. I resent that.”

Opinions like that make Karl’s book enjoyable, but to turn his “call it like I see it” mantra on its head, this book is not well written. Checking in at close to 250 pages in paperback form, it is a double-spaced miasma of whininess, with only blankness staring at you between the lines.

There is no subtleness to This Game, no surprise considering whose name is in 100 point type on the front cover. Karl’s naivete when it comes to the complicated world of NBA basketball is refreshing in bursts and infuriating in others. On superagent David Falk in specific, and NBA players in general:

“I’m not sure what he’s doing is good for the long-term health of the league though. I have always had a question about David and his work with the players’ union: Why do a bunch of multimillionaires need a union anyway?”

The very fact that without a union they wouldn’t be multimillionaires is lost on Karl, and his obliviousness to the poor relationship between owners and players is further underlined a few sentences later with this bon mot:

“I do not think the owners are in it to hurt the players.”


When he isn’t busy condemning greedy players on other teams, Karl takes care to insult his own players, from Kendall Gill to Michael Cage to Gary Payton. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a hatchet job, and Karl repeatedly praises players when they put the team first. Still, the reader, after hearing page after page of criticisms and complaints, can hardly be forgiven for thinking he has become a member of the Sonics or Bucks or Warriors or Cavaliers in the waning days of Karl’s runs with those respective teams. Yes, George, we get it, today’s players don’t want it the way you did when you were playing, just the same way old players on your San Antonio teams probably whined about the way you didn’t it want it, and the way players on the … well, you get the picture. Old fogies complaining about young bucks (or Bucks) not “wanting it” or “putting the team first” has been going on so long as sports have been around, and Karl is hardly the first or the last to use those clich├ęs. However, the fact others have trodden down that path so many times before doesn’t make his complaints entertaining; it makes them boring.

Thanks to Karl’s humor and honesty, though, there are some wonderful passages interspersed within the doggerel, one of which speaks directly to the man’s way of thinking.

In the late 80s Karl had given up any hope of becoming an NBA head coach. After stints with Golden State and Cleveland ended in frustration, Karl, while still young, figured he would never be given another shot and so headed for Spain with Real Madrid. His first foray was successful, and when Real offered him a chance to coach the team again, Karl gladly accepted. No fool, the boy from Pennsylvania was ready for Europe this time:

“When we were headed to Madrid the second time, we believed we would be there for several years so we shipped over more than four thousand pounds of household goods and food. You always take food when you go to Spain. They do not have Cheerios or Oreos or cake mixes of Hamburger Helper or any of those kinds of things. So we took all that stuff with us.”

It’s a delightful, biographical paragraph. Analyze it with me: Here you have a man, headed to one of the culinary capitals of the world, where good wine costs less than Coca-Cola, where vendors sell delicious tapas for next to nothing, where he has an opportunity to soak up a wonderful culture and its wonderful cuisine, and what does he do?

He ships a container of Hamburger Helper across the Atlantic Ocean.

To anyone else, it would be an embarrassing episode of your life you’d never tell anyone about. But to George Karl, it’s just being honest. The man wanted to eat Cheerios for breakfast, have a sandwich with Oreos for lunch, and Hamburger Helper for dinner, and he wasn’t about to be denied that just because Spaniards have some weird fascination with eating freshly prepared food.

You could read all 258 pages of This Game’s the Best to try to figure out George Karl, or you could just remember that anecdote. Either way, you’d know the man.

The Seattle Supersonics return! (to Safeco?)

In case you missed Sonics Celebration night at Safeco Field a couple months back, here are the highlights courtesy of our pals at Sonicsgate.

Thursday, September 8

Kemp Blows Up Bumbershoot

The Reign Man can still bring the house down at the Key.

Local rapper Macklemore brought Shawn Kemp on stage during his set at Bumbershoot last weekend. Check out the response from the crowd.