Halloween night 2007, I decided to stay home because I didn’t want to get beat up for the third year in a row, at Matt’s annual underground fight night. Instead, I turned on the TV and watched the Seattle Supersonics play the Denver Nuggets, led behind Seattle’s rookie superstar Kevin Durant.
There were rumors that the team was leaving town, but as a teenager, I didn’t want to believe it was true. The writing was on the wall after Clay Bennett traded Ray Allen for Delonte West, Wally Szczerbiak, and the rights to the 2007 NBA Draft’s No. 5 overall pick. Bennett also shipped Rashard Lewis to the Orlando Magic that same year, in a sign-and-trade deal, in exchange for a future conditional second round draft pick.
Lewis was the teams seconding leading scorer the previous year averaging 22.4 points per game. The aforementioned Allen led the team in 2006-07 with 26.4.
The combination of Durant, Allen, and Lewis could have been the cornerstone of an emerging dynasty, instead Durant was left to fend for himself and the odds proved too much to overcome, as the Sups finished the year 20-62. This was the worst record in franchise history.
The rookie did his part that season averaging 20.3 PPG but when your second and third leading scorers are Chris Wilcox, and Szczerbiak, winning may prove difficult to come by.
The season ended, and later that year on July 2, 2008, a $75 million settlement was announced between Bennett and the city of Seattle. It was official, the Seattle Supersonics were now the Oklahoma City Thunder.
I remember watching the game but not the exact details. It was obvious that this Durant kid was going to be something special, which gave a 17-year-old me a glimmer of hope that he could save our franchise. I mean it happened once in the Emerald City already, so why couldn’t it happen again?
In 1995, Ken Griffey Jr. almost single handedly saved the Seattle Mariners. There were talks of the M’s leaving town before they captivated the city that year, en route to an AL Division Series victory over the historically dominate New York Yankees.
Lighting didn’t strike twice, and the Sonics moved from the 13th biggest sporting market to the 43rd.
It’s hard to put into words of what the loss meant to Seattle. The Supersonics held the Emerald City’s only major professional sports championship at the time, and the sting of losing our boys reverberated throughout the town like an earthquake.
With the exception of the cheesy metaphor above, I can’t speak for the city. But I can speak for myself, and losing the Sups hurt me on an extremely deep level.
I’ve always loved basketball and the Sonics were my go to option during the long, cloudy, and rainy Seattle winters. Few things were better than drinking a cup of chamomile-lavender tea and watching Allen’s silky jumper swish through the net. Now that I’m older, maybe a nice IPA while I curl up on the couch, but you get the jist.
It’s been twelve years since the Supersonics left town, and while time has eased some of the pain, the hope of a returning franchise still looms in the back of my mind.
Instead of returning to Matt’s crowded basement to defend my undisputed 0-2 boxing record. I chose to spend my Halloween watching the Sups.
Twelve years later, and this is still not an option.
I love Halloween but some tricks just aren’t that funny …