I'm not usually a fan of question headlines (although this is my second this week), but I really don't know the answer and am curious about your opinions on this.
I bring it up today mainly because I saw this story over at the SBNation mothership. Basically, it makes the case that Seattle is the best American basketball city without a NBA team.
There's no one word to describe what's happened to pro basketball in Seattle, and yet, it's all of those things--an insulting, depressing, shameful, unfair, bizarre, and completely idiotic reality of the NBA right now. It's an abortion of common sense.
Since my NBA fandom happened to dovetail almost perfectly with the Kemp-Payton-era Sonics, I have great memories of that team. The epic seven-game 1993 Western Conference finals against the Suns is probably my fondest NBA-related memory. I was a big fan of Charles Barkley in those days and my high school basketball team ran an offense built on the same run-and-gun principals as those teams.
Even though I never counted myself as a Sonics fan, I always had a soft spot in my heart for them. Even though Seattle has had the Seahawks and Mariners my entire life, I always thought of the Sonics as being the quintessential Seattle team.
Before reading this story, I knew all about the strong prep and youth basketball traditions of the city. I love that the Sonics logo is still painted on the outdoor courts at parks like Green Lake. I am constantly amazed at how often I see people wearing the Sonics logo. I definitely don't need to be convinced that the Sonics left a hole in the hearts of many Seattle fans.
But I can't help but wonder about the accuracy of the meme that says the Sounders' success is directly related to people needing to fill that hole.
I understand why many would draw this conclusion. The Sonics left the same year Seattle was granted an MLS expansion team and we all know about the way the city embraced the upgraded soccer team.
I'm not saying many Sonics fans eventually latched onto the Sounders, it just strikes me as an overly simplified explanation. Basically, I want the opinions of actual Sounders fans on this one.