I went to high school in Tacoma. In fact, I once attended a raucous Sonics/Blazers game in the Tacoma Dome which seemed to have more Portlanders than Washingtonians.
This was back when Drexler & Kersey went head-to-head with Payton and Kemp. Man, those were the days. Even though I’m now a prime time Blazers fan, like many, I was shocked and unbelievably saddened to see the Sonics relocated to Oklahoma City.
The tragedy has gotten worse after Oklahoma City recently rolled off nine straight wins, continuing their climb up the NBA’s western conference standings.
The team’s leader, Kevin Durant, is the hottest new star in the NBA and is even challenging LeBron James for the NBA scoring title. This was the guy drafted by the Sonics right after Greg Oden. As good as the Oklahoma City Thunder are becoming, we should be enjoying a Brandon Roy/Kevin Durant NORTHWEST battle.
It could have been the hottest and most intense rivalry in the NBA until about 2020 or so.
So what happened?
There are many answers. Some blame management. Some blame ownership. Some blame Washington state politics and voters. Some blame the NBA. Believe me, there’s plenty of blame to go around and everyone played a part in this civic disaster.
Sonicsgate: Requiem for a Team is a fabulous new documentary chronicling the public and private bungling which allowed a 40-year-old franchise to move from the 12th largest American city to Oklahoma. The documentary is nostalgic and heartbreaking at the same time and serves as a wonderful case study for public administration students.
The film interviews dozens of prominent players including former Sonics, Seattle politicians, business leaders, broadcasters, and fans. It also serves as a cautionary tale for all sports fans.
Blazer fans have it pretty darn good right now, but don’t think it couldn’t happen to us someday. Sonicsgate serves as a reminder that professional sports have less to do with civic pride than cold, hard, business.
The movie headlined the recent Beer & Movie fest, but you can still see it if you missed it. The film’s promotional website www.sonicsgate.org has the entire film online for your enjoyment.
If you love the NBA or just want to learn a little about Seattle history, then this excellent documentary is a must see. Just make sure you minimize the window when your boss walks by.
4.5 out of 5