[Note: I have a buddy from That City. He’s a good bloke. He’s actually more of a baseball guy. But to help me sort through all these thoughts I’m having, I had to imagine That City was full of guys like him that I didn’t know, but due to Historic Events, we totally hated each other. Which is kind of stupid when you think about it. So here’s a fake letter to an imaginary version of a friend who’ll never read it, because what kind of weirdo cares this much about basketball?]
Dear Fake Lance,
I didn’t think the day would ever come. But I think at last, I’ve done it. I’ve reached the last stage of grief. Acceptance.
Now, acceptance is not the same thing as being okay with the outcome. Like I would ever say, “Golly, you know, the way the events unfolded was actually for the best! I’m SO glad that happened! You guys were totally right and it was so wrong of me to feel sad or angry. How petty and foolish I was to want to keep something that was dear to me and my city for 41 years. My bad, guys! Cheers!”
Where was I? Oh right. Acceptance.
Since 2008, I’ve been personally, illogically angry about the Zombies’ each and every success. Which means I’ve been getting progressively crankier for 4 years straight.
Over that time, I wondered how I would feel when, God forbid, THAT TEAM made it to the Finals. Or worse, WON the goddamn thing. I predicted I’d for sure be tooth-gnashingly enraged. Like, full-on, gamma-irradiated property damage mode at the very least. But truthfully, when the posts about the Game 6 results popped up in my Facebook feed, my mental state fell somewhere between resigned and numb, with a dash of “meh” thrown in.
I was disappointed. But I didn’t throw my phone, punch my television or rip my Sonics flag off the wall. I didn’t write a heartfelt note to Howard Schultz on the windows of the local Starbucks using dog feces. Progress!
I’m not sure how or why it happened. It could be that I got tired of being mad. It could be that I finally learned that sports is a business, and fanaticism rewards owners and leagues more than the fan. It could be that I took stock of the things I have in my life, and realized a basketball team was just a bonus on top of that. Whatever trick my brain pulled, it seems to have worked.
Which makes me foresee a day where I can feel something like Normal Seattle Sports Heartbreak, instead of Post-Apocalyptic Seattle Sports Heartbreak. And when that day comes, it’s possible that we might be able to coexist in this dimension. We won’t have to like each other, but we can be cool to each other. As in, walk past each other in the hallway and do that up-nod “’Sup?” thing without talking or stopping.
How do we get there? Some suggestions in my usual bullet-point gimmickry:
- Let go of our history. The banners, the trophies, the stats, the records. You didn’t live it. And you don't need it. Your present and future are way better anyway, so what do you want with our crummy, tortured past?
- As soon as we get a team, we promise to graduate our hatred of your team from “Blind, Frothing, Clawing-Through-the-Drywall-Rage Every Time We Hear/See Your Stupid Name/Logo” to your run-of-the-mill, “Can’t Fucking Stand That Team But Hey My Blood Pressure Doesn’t Spike Anymore” levels.
- Go ahead and leave all your lovely, classy comments about us on your own websites and facebook pages. I mean, they are for you, and you should be able to say whatever you want over there. Just please don’t troll our joints, okay? ALL THESE WORLDS ARE YOURS EXCEPT EUROPA.
- Acknowledge that the team was not relocated due to low fan support. Fans had little influence on the outcome, and billionaires had plenty. Does pinning the blame on Seattle fans somehow make it easier for you to enjoy your team? Seriously, I don’t know why perpetuating that falsehood is so important.
- Don’t expect me root for That Team. Ever. It's like telling me "Dude, your ex just won Miss Hawaiian Tropic and she's marrying Ronaldo at Super Bowl Halftime. What do you mean you don't want to watch?" Or to put it in your terms, it’s not like I’d ask you to root for the Longhorns ever, right? So let’s leave it at that.
- Lastly, realize that there’s a difference between “getting over it” and “moving on.” The former won’t ever happen, but the latter is starting to.