Sonics: Remembering Yesterday, Betting on Tomorrow

I had no idea I cared so much.

Last week's settlement between the city and Clay Bennett's ownership group leaves Sonics fans nothing to do but whistle Annie's "Tomorrow." It's been a hard-knock life, watching Shawn Kemp get robbed in '93, so close in '96, traded in '97, and fat by '98. Watching Wally Walker and Rick Sund run the franchise into the ground, seven feet at a time (by my calculations, they took it about 49' deep). Watching Vin Baker's jowls wobble from the aftershocks of an opponent's dunk. Watching Gary Payton win a title in another jersey. Watching Howard Schultz panic-sell like he was the dude who owned a sausage shop on the Ave. rather than the head of a worldwide coffee empire. Watching Bennett and David Stern lie to us like a parent who says, "This is gonna hurt me more." But watching October approach without a training camp will be the hardest knock of all. The old adage "You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone" has never felt truer; suddenly I long for even the Walker-Sund days. I can't hate the people of Oklahoma City, but I can't wait to hate their team. Last Wednesday, in the hour between the announcement of the settlement and the press conference detailing it, I found my blood boiling at the thought of Oklahoma City getting the name "SuperSonics." I never want Bennett's band of plutocrats and homophobes—or any other resident of that "city" whose population density is less than one-third that of Enumclaw—to have a sliver of a claim to a Payton-to-Kemp alley-oop or a Kevin Calabro catchphrase. Thankfully, we now know that the name will remain in Seattle. But somewhere, on some crappy court with a worn-down ball, there's a kid practicing late into the night for his chance to win a title wearing green and gold. He might be 7, he might be 17. He might even be the progeny of Shawn Kemp. But his time will come. Until then, I'll tip my 40 to the old days and put my bottom dollar on tomorrow.

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