Wednesday, April 11, 2012

My N.B.A. Conundrum

I love basketball. It's unquestionable the sport I've played the most in my life. There is a rhythm and flow to the sport that is completely unique and beautiful to itself. As kid growing up in Seattle in the 90's, I loved the Sonics. I listened to every game at night on the radio(this was before most teams had T.V. deals), and whenever the Sonics were on pay per view(TNT), I'd beg my parents to purchase the game, to no avail. I loved going to Sonics games, whether it was at the old Seattle Center Coliseum, the Tacoma Dome or Key Arena.  When the Seahawks were woeful and threatening to move to Los Angeles, and the Mariners were bitching and moaning because they wanted their own stadium or they'd move to Tampa Bay, there was always the Sonics. Consistent and successful, always.
So naturally, the Sonics leaving was an upsetting, infuriating, and sad time period, and it still pisses me off just as much as it did when the whole farce actually happened. I've never respected David Stern or the NBA, whether it's their marketing approach and idiotic business model, or their extremely suspect egotistical officials. But I love the sport played at its highest level. I'm not one of the people that scorn the N.B.A. and call the players "spoiled millionaires". I don't rant about the selfishness of the players, or the lack of defense. I have always enjoyed watching, reading, listening and discussing professional basketball and can with ease bring a counterargument to anyone criticizing the actual product on the floor.

However, the crooked way the Sonics were ripped out of this city has left a bad taste in my mouth that I don't know will ever go away. If the Mariners lose out on their ridiculous attempt to block the arena being built in SoDo, and the Sonics actually returned, I don't know how much I can support that team. Would it be great to have professional basketball back? Yes. Would it be great to heckle Lebron James in person? Absolutely.  But will it ever be the same? I honestly don't think so. When I'm sitting in the new arena, I will feel a little dirty. The money I spent on tickets is going to the very people that ripped the team out of Seattle in the first place. We aren't getting a new team, we're getting a team from a city that went through the same thing the Seattle did. Will I be able to chalk that up as a "nature of the business" and move on? Probably not.

Of course, I could say all this and it would last until I walk into the arena, sit down, and am watching professional basketball in person again. That's what the NBA is counting on at least.

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