Getting to live in a city with an NBA team is a privilege, not a right, and it’s something that can be taken away at the drop of a hat. Just ask Seattle. I’m no lawyer, so I can’t write about all the legal aspects that went into the move of a franchise from their city, but I can write about the heartbreak of losing part of your city’s identity.
How long does it take to get over that? To watch your team find success in a completely different part of the country? To think that Kevin Durant should be lighting up Key Arena? It’s only been three years, but a charity event played in Seattle last weekend showed that the city definitely misses the NBA. Thousands of people busted out their green and yellow jerseys to prove that they’ve remained loyal to the Sonics.
So with no immediate plans for expansion, how does the city cope? How do they watch charity basketball events but not go out afterwards and punch a hole in the wall because they need more than just a taste? They had a team for 40 years and then all of a sudden, it was gone.
For now, I think they just have to be Thunder fans. Or, if that’s too hard to swallow, they have to drop the NBA and throw all their energy into the Seattle Seahawks.
Unfortunately, fans don’t dictate what happens, rich people do. If the Spurs were to ever leave San Antonio – blasphemy, I know – fans would be outraged. There’d be rioting in the streets, protests for years and probably some crazy fans would find a way to camp out on the roof of the AT&T center. But they wouldn’t have a shot at getting a team back unless some dudes with lots of money found a way to make it happen. So Seattle can cry foul all they want, but you need more than picket signs and strongly worded letters.
If history repeats itself, then someday Seattle will get a team back. They do have fan support, and a rich guy who wants to bring a team back. They would just need to build a new place to play. But will the stars ever align just right? I say yes, but not right now. The league can’t even figure itself out right now, let alone worry about teams jumping cities or expanding. But somewhere down the line, if the city keeps its heart focused, keeps reminding the NBA that they’re still there and that they want what was taken from them, it could happen.