Thursday, March 28

King DOH! The short and sad life of the Kingdome

While I was working on my book about the Seattle Supersonics this morning, fellow Supersonicsoul writer Pete Nussbaum tweeted this about the former home of the Sonics:

"37 years ago today, the Kingdome opened for business. 13 years ago yesterday, it was destroyed. Seattle finishes paying it off in 2016."

What a sad and strange epitaph for what was once the crown jewel of downtown Seattle.

The King County Multipurpose Domed Stadium was originally conceived in the 1950s, but public funding for the massive building was voted down several times (sound familiar?). In 1968, however, King County voters finally approved $40 million dollars in municipal bonds to pay for the dome, which began construction in 1972 and would be finished four years later.

Every major Seattle sports team called the Kingdome home at some point. The Supersonics moved in at the start of their 1978-79 championship season and led the league in attendance for two years in a row. On April 15th, 1980, in a home playoff game against the Bucks, the Sonics set an NBA single-game attendance record with 40,172, the most ever to watch a pro basketball game at the time.

The Kingdome also brought the NFL Pro Bowl and the NBA and MLB All-star games to town, along with the Final Four in 1984, 1989, and 1995. This was a very big deal back in the dark ages of Seattle, when we were only known for Bigfoot and Ted Bundy.

Over time, however, the novelty of watching sports inside a giant cement tomb wore off. As most Seattle teams declined in the late 80s, so did attendance. The Dome, run by King County, was not maintained very well, as anyone who ever had to use the bathrooms there can attest.

The Kingdome wasn't all urinal troughs and sticky floors, of course. The Seahawks had some great moments there (though they were mostly great for the other teams). Edgar Martinez had the most important hit in Mariners history in the dome. Pete and I even played in marching band during the halftime show on Monday Night Football there (Sorry ladies, we're already taken). And of course there was the annual paper airplane contest and the time that crazy guy flew a plane inside the dome.

In the mid-90s, though, the roof started to fall appart, giving the Seahawks and Mariners owners a perfect excuse to extort the city for new, single-use stadiums for their teams. Maybe if the Sonics hadn't moved out in 1985, they could have gotten a new stadium too.

It was too late now, though. The Kingdome was now the city's largest abandoned building. Its empty grey shell looked like the stripped-down ruins of an ancient civilization.

And on March 26, 2000, a day before the 24th anniversary of the Kingdome's grand opening, they blew it up.

So happy birth/death day to the Kingdome, the best and worst Multipurpose Domed Stadium we ever had.

Love the Glove

If you're looking for a way to calm the turbulent waters currently flowing between Sacramento and Seattle, might I suggest this?

Yes, it's a Gary Payton "The Glove" hat, and yes, it lights up. Since no one could ever be angry wearing a "The Glove" hat that lights up, I think it might behoove both sides to don one of these suckers and just walk around for a little while. Give David Stern one for the afternoon. Drop one on Kevin Johnson's desk before he heads home from work.

In fact, I think quite a few of the world's problems might be solved if more people started wearing illuminated "The Glove" hats. The situation in the Middle East, for one. The charging/blocking situation in college basketball for another. The possibilities are endless, really.

You're welcome.

(Found via ebay).

Wednesday, March 27

Scoldin' Olden: Olden Polynice vs. Seattle Sonics Trolls

Former Seattle Supersonic Olden Polynice was once a fan favorite in this town. Today? Not so much.

The retired center, who played for the Sonics from 1987-1991 and again for a brief stop in the disastrous lockout season of 1998-99, made a few comments on Twitter about supporting the Kings (another former team of his) staying in Sacramento. Then some over-zealous Sonics fans went ballistic. And then this happened:

Just like the ridiculous Spencer Hawes reaction last weekend, these sort of incidents are often chalked up as examples of how passionate sports fans can be about their teams. They aren't. These are examples of how stupid sports fans can be.

Polynice and Hawes both played for NBA teams. They weren't community ambassadors. They weren't public servants. They were employees. Hawes did not choose to work in Sacramento, just like Polynice didn't choose Seattle. They went there because their jobs forced them to. Olden doesn't like Seattle? So what? Sometimes I don't like Seattle, and I've lived here all my life!

Whether it's Polynice, Hawes, Nick Collison or your annoying neighbor, most sports fans have pretty strong feelings about their favorite team. And if you don't agree? Tough luck.

Don't get mad at O.P. for saying the Kings should stay in Sacramento. Like everyone else, he has a right to root for whoever he wants in this drama.

Besides, real Sonics fans know that this is the only  reason you should be mad at Olden Polynice.

Monday, March 25

Seattle Sonics oddity of the week: Duck Mason

Still waiting for someone to explain this one to me. (Spotted in the wild at Value Village in Ballard.)

Thursday, March 14

Mad Rush for (Hypothetical) Seattle Supersonics Season Tickets Breaks Internet

Seattle Supersonics fans broke the interwebs this morning.

A priority waiting list for (potential) season tickets to the (potential) Seattle Sonics 2.0 went live this morning on Or least it was supposed to.

Whether is was the crushing press of crazed Sonics fanatics or the sinister work of Sacramento computer ninjas, the site was unavailable most of the morning.

As of 10:30 this morning this site is still down, but you can still access the survey here, which will get you on the (potential) wait list.

UPDATE: Looks like the site is back up. Go over there and get some virtual tickets for all your virtual friends! 

Wednesday, March 13

Arena Porn: Chris Hansen releases steamy new pics of Seattle Supersonics Arena

Chris Hansen's supergroup of money peoples released some new photos of the proposed Seattle Supersonics arena, this time revealing the creamy filling, er, interior bowl.

One of the most interesting parts is how the overhang allows fans to be right on top of the court, reminding me a bit of the old McArthur Court at University of Oregon, where the vertigo inducing upper deck made you feel like you were going to fall onto the court if you hiccuped.

Another thing that popped out was the different logos used. Personally, I'm hoping they stick with the old-school Green Lantern model instead of Starbucks Light or the mid-90s Christmas Special.

Check out for more pics of our imaginary stadium dream palace and be sure to stop by there Thursday morning to sign up for fake tickets the waiting list for season tickets.

Tuesday, March 12

Too Big To Fail: Why the Seattle Supersonics and Sacramento Kings both deserve to live

Things are getting ugly between basketball fans in Seattle and Sacramento.

After the latest fold in the Kings Drama last week, my Twitter feed was filled with one common hashtag: #eatshitseattle .

Oooooookay?  I know this sort of situation brings out the worst in sports fans, but the Über trolls on both sides have smelled blood and are engaged in a battle to the virtual death, bringing back painful memories of 2008 and the horde of OKC enthusiasts who came out in droves to piss on Seattle's basketball grave.

The irony, of course, is that fans have zero influence on the outcome of these sorts of dilemas, so while we bludgeon each other with zingers and hashtags, the NBA fatcats count their money and enjoy the show.

Instead of fighting each other, we should acknowledge that both cities have incredibly enthusiastic fans and, more importantly, incredibly rich investors begging to give the NBA boatloads of money. So why should either city be left out in the cold? Why not keep the Kings in Sacramento and award an expansion team to Seattle?

People will argue that expansion will dilute the league, but with the explosion of international basketball over the past two decades, there has never been a bigger pool for talent. Naysayers also protest the idea of the NBA having an uneven amount of teams, but as Tom Ziller brilliantly pointed out in detail back in January, the league has often operated that way and somehow survived.

The only reason the NBA hasn't fixed this mess is they love drama.  It drives ratings, ticket sales and fan interest. And as we fight online crusades against imaginary foes from other cities, it's clear this whole kerfuffle is as authentic as the WWE, with the Board of Governors Meeting on April 18th being our Wrestlemania.

Basketball fans on both sides need to stop fighting each other and acknowledge we are all being exploited. The NBA could end this right now by awarding Seattle an expansion team. The only question is whether David Stern wants to play the hero or the heel.

Monday, March 11

Hansen to start Seattle Sonics season tickets waitlist Thursday, apparently doesn't know meaning of "Jinx"

Well, that didn't take long.

With the ground still warm from David Stern's bombshell Friday, Seattle Supersonics 2.0 mastermind Chris Hansen is launching a "Priority Ticket Waitlist for future Sonics tickets" this Thursday through

In addition to helping us understand and prioritize the demand for tickets, registering your interest will be a critical step in demonstrating to the NBA and basketball fans around the country the unbelievable passion that exists in the Emerald City to BRING BACK OUR SONICS! 
The Priority Ticket Waitlist will go live here at on March 14 at 10 am SST (Sonics-Saving Time!). You will also be able to go to the list directly here. Requests will be taken in sequential order for each ticket type.

So, who's going to sign up for imaginary season tickets? I'm tempted to, but I'm also reminded of the last time the Sonics tried to sell tickets for an arena that wasn't built yet.

Aw, who am I kidding? I'm totally signing up.

Wednesday, March 6

Seattle Sonics History: 3/6/87, Lenny's Brother Gets Fired

We’re all familiar with the famous Seinfeld episode wherein Elaine Benes is kicked out of Yankee Stadium for wearing a Baltimore Orioles cap (she was in the owner’s box at the time), but did you know a very similar event happened at a Sonics’ game, and that it involved the brother of perhaps the most important figure in Seattle Sonic history?

It was March 2, 1987, and the Sonics were taking on the Cleveland Cavaliers in a battle of not-exactly-titans. However, it was a big game in that Lenny Wilkens was back in town, this time as the coach of the Cavs, and the Sonics were honoring their former coach and player by putting his number in the rafters, a classy move by the organization, to be sure.

(It should be noted that numerous newspaper reports indicated that the Sonics retired Wilkens’ jersey; however, considering that even more reports indicate that the jersey was retired in 1979, I’m not sure exactly what was put into the rafters that night).

One person in particular was thrilled by the night’s events – Lenny’s brother, Michael. Michael had been a statistician for the team for more than seven years, and remained in the employ of the team even after his brother left for Cleveland.

To honor Lenny, Michael thought it might be a good idea to wear a Cleveland cap during the game. Just a heartfelt tip of the, well, cap to his famous brother. No harm, right?

Michael obviously forgot who was running the Sonics. You see, Barry Ackerley had bought the club, and while former owner Sam Schulman would have just chuckled at seeing one of his employees wearing a cap of an opposing team (heck, Schulman probably would have tried to sell Cavs’ hats in the arena if he could make a buck off it), Barry Ackerley was most definitely not Sam Schulman.

Which is why, after halftime, Bill Ackerley, Barry’s son and the team’s Vice President, approached Michael and asked him to remove the cap.

Michael, thinking that the Wilkens family had done enough for the team to allow him a smidge of leeway, told Bill, thanks, but I think I’ll keep my hat on.

Bill, realizing that it wasn’t in his best interests to create a scene, retreated after a bit of debate.

And then fired Michael the next day.

Better yet, Ackerley claimed that he didn’t know that Michael was Lenny’s brother. I’m not sure what’s worse, that the team’s Vice President didn’t know that a seven-year employee was the brother of the most famous person to ever don a Sonic jersey (to that point, anyway), or that Ackerley was taking the exact opposite tack of every white person in history in not thinking that two black men didn’t look similar to one another.

Whatever the case may be, on March 6, 1987, newspapers across the country ran stories about how the Sonics had fired Lenny Wilkens’ brother for wearing a Cleveland Cavaliers cap.


Tuesday, March 5

This Date in Seattle Sonics History: 3/5/72, Spencer v Puddle

41 years ago today, Spencer Haywood was probably thinking about how he would celebrate the upcoming anniversary of his successful lawsuit against the NBA. Maybe he was thinking about some jazz music in his beautiful apartment overlooking Downtown Seattle, or having a few friends over, some good food, or perhaps just a toast to the fact that a young black man from the rural South had knocked off those high-priced NBA lawyers.

What he surely wasn’t thinking was how the unending Seattle rains were going to seriously screw up all that he had won in that contentious lawsuit.

It was Sunday, March 5, 1972. President Richard Nixon had just completed his historic trip to China and the Sonics were gearing up to cruise into the NBA Playoffs for the first time in the team’s history.  Entering play that Sunday the Sonics had won 12 of their last 14 games. They hadn’t lost at home in more than a month; their quest with Golden State for second spot in the Pacific Division was a tough one, but certainly attainable. With the dismal Atlanta Hawks in town the only question was whether the Sonics would use the opportunity to nudge Golden State aside.

As always, it was raining like crazy in Seattle (more than 20 inches of rain had fallen since the beginning of the year, and a torrential rain storm on Sunday didn’t help matters), and it was dripping again inside the Seattle Center Coliseum, but that’s just how it was in Seattle, right? Okay, they were starting to call the place “The Leaky Tepee” and “The World’s Largest Shower Bath,” but, after all, the city had spent north of $100,000 to caulk the 6,000 aluminum panels that made up the roof of the building, so it wasn’t that big of a deal, really.

Well, it became a big deal. A very big deal.

That Sunday was an especially leaky day at the tepee (so much so that no fewer than five ball boys were on hand to mop up the puddles), but as any Seattleite with a basement will tell you, there’s only so much you can do when you’re fighting water.

A mere six minutes into the first period Haywood was headed down the court on a fast break when his left foot and a massive puddle at half-court greeted one another. The result?

A stretched right medial collateral ligation in Haywood’s leg.

Amazingly, game reports glossed over Haywood’s injury. “Not expected to be serious,” the AP said, focusing more of its efforts on the broken ring finger of Sonic Captain Dick Snyder – suffered in a fall during the same game. More amazingly, the Sonics had beaten the Hawks, putting them into a tie with the Warriors for second place. Playoffs, here we come!

Two days later, though, the news was grim: Haywood was out for the season. Playoffs, there we go.

Suffice it to say the Sonics did not rebound well from seeing Haywood (26 ppg) and Snyder (16 ppg) sidelined. The Seattle dropped eight of their final nine games, putting them a full four games behind Golden State in the road to the playoffs.

Worse, the leak further poisoned the relationship between the city and the team. A week after the incident, the Sonics had filed a claim against Seattle for “gross negligence” in not repairing the leaky roof. Eventually, the Sonics and Haywood would enjoin to ask the city for more than $400,000 for the injury (roughly $280,000 for Spencer, $162,000 for the Supes), although the parties would settle for a lesser amount (according to one account, Haywood got about $50,000).

“After many requests and complaints about the leaks in the roof, which not only make the playing surface of the basketball floor unsafe but also brings great discomfort for our fans,” team owner Sam Schulman said in a statement. “I am very bitter that I find it is necessary to make an issue every time I need assistance from officials.”

A spokesman for the team even implied that the fiasco was causing the Sonics to think seriously about leaving the Coliseum, perhaps to that nifty domed facility the county was working on (something the team wound up doing just a few years later, before returning to the Coliseum in the 1980s, then onto KeyArena, then onto … I’ll just stop now).

Luckily for Spencer Haywood, the injury did not turn out to be career-ending. After finishing in the top five in scoring in 1971-72, Haywood returned the next year and averaged 29 points per game, earning him four votes for MVP and a top-ten finish in the voting, and 10.2 win shares, both of which would be career highs for him, certifying that while the injury may have hurt his health in the long run, it certainly didn’t hurt it in the short run.

(Information gathered from: Associated Press, The Great Book of Seattle Sports Lists, UPI, and The Rise, the Fall, The Recovery, by Spencer Haywood and Scott Ostler).

Friday, March 1

Classic T

Okay, now I'm pro-arena again.

I found this too late for the post earlier today, but it's worth its own post regardless. For $1, you can have this amazing t-shirt featuring Shawn Kemp, Gary Payton, Nate Mcmillan, Dana Barros, George Karl, Ricky Pierce, Eddie Johnson, and Derrick McKey - in animated form! View the complete listing here.

Let's Go Shoppin'

The best way to deal with overwhelming guilt, anxiety and uncertainty?

Go shopping!

At least, that’s what we’ve been taught since grade school, anyways. So, with that in mind, here’s some fantastic and not-so-fantastic items currently available to the discerning Sonic shopper.

Featuring Det, Reignman, and the Glove, it’s a classic piece of mid-90s nostalgia. At $15, it’s a decent deal for a 22” x 34” poster you know would look great in any rec room.

Oh, my. Just … I’m not sure what to say about this one. Set aside the value – it’s $50 for a warm-up jersey, so you can’t quibble too much about the price – but, that picture? Why that expression? Why do I get the feeling that the poser is a TrailBlazer fan that lost a bet? Why does he feel the need to show us all of his chins? And why is he looking at his feet in the reverse picture? What’s down there, Joe? Did you step in something? Or are you just wondering how you got to this point in your life?


Sonic/Kings Jersey: Do not buy this
To the seller(s) of this piece of annoyance, on behalf of every citizen of Sacramento and Seattle, and anyone who has ever been a fan of either team: Go to Hell, just go. In all honesty,  can anyone fathom who the target market is for this obscenity? No one in Seattle or Sacramento would ever wear this in public, so I'm struggling to figure out who they expect to buy it.

So, you’ve got a corduroy hat signed by Michael Cage, Rich King, and a mystery Sonic. The question you’ve got to ask yourself: Would it be worth more if Rich King hadn’t signed it? And who is the mystery Sonic? Could it be Bart Kofoed? Would that make it worth even less than $10?

I sometimes wonder about the process that goes into making these staged photos. For example, in an ordinary circumstance with another set of three great NBA players, where none of the three is truly superior to the other two, you’d think there might be some awkwardness as to who gets to stand in the middle, right? I’m guessing this did not happen with Xavier McDaniel, Tom Chambes, and Dale Ellis:

Photog: Okay, who wants to stand in the middle?
Tom: Well, I’m the tallest, so how about me?
X: Looks at Tom.
Tom: Yeah, I think I’ll stand on the side.
Dale: Coughs.

Yes, it's from that game. The ticket doesn't say Game Five, but it does say Game C, which makes it painfully obvious that this is an unused ticket from the most horrific game in Sonic history. I think it's worth $5 just to buy it and perform an exorcism. Maybe you could get Dikembe Mutombo to perform part of the ceremony.