So a good friend of mine, who shall remain nameless, but whose name rhymes with Bus and begins with a G, and who knows my Seattle heritage well, asked me today: “How do you feel about the Thunder getting to the NBA Finals?”
Bitter, angry, sad, helpless, frauded (is that a word?), despondent, lost, crestfallen ….
And I didn’t even cheat by going to thesaurus.com. Okay, now I’m gonna cheat:
Affronted, annoyed, antagonized, chafed, cross, displeased, enraged, exasperated, furious, incensed, indignant, inflamed, infuriated, irate, irritated, maddened, offended, outraged, resentful, sore, sullen, sulky.
Watch the award-winning film Sonicsgate (at www.sonicsgate.org) for the story of how the team was stolen from Seattle, but in a nutshell, there’s plenty of blame to go around (current owner Clay Bennett and his cronies, previous owner Howard Schultz – no I won’t ever have a Starbucks latte again, the Seattle government, the local and national media, commissioner David Stern) and the people who actually supported the Sonics for 40 years are left with the most pain. As usual, the fans get the short end of the stick.
It’s been hard to watch the Thunder, or as Bill Simmons honorably calls them, the Zombie Sonics over the last four years. At first, I hated seeing them, then the next season, and the next, I still hated seeing them. This season, whether it’s the passage of time, or the potential promise of a team coming back to Seattle, I’ve eased up a little bit. But it’s simply impossible to root for the team that I rooted so hard for my entire life, and that is just a weird feeling to try to convey. Frankly, it’s a feeling I hope nobody else ever goes through.
Yes, it’s somewhat comparable to what Browns fans may have felt when the Ravens won the Super Bowl, but it’s NOT the same. Not at all. So much more went into the stealing of our team than an owner simply up and moving... And remember, Seattlites went through this over and over with the Mariners in the 80s and 90s before they finally decided to stay for good.
Every time I watch the Thunder play, the emptiness in my heart swells again. At this point, it’s not like I’m actively rooting against them anymore. It’s just … sad. Hard. Nauseating. God forbid they win, and they call it the “2nd NBA championship in franchise history”? That will be insufferable. That’s my team over there. Or at least, it was my team, and it’s hard to watch somebody else claim them. Had Seattle not supported the Sonics (and lord, did we support them, through Robert Swift and Johan Petro and Jerome James and I could go on but I’d rather skydive with no parachute onto a bicycle rack), I could understand outsiders questioning our continuing anger. But just imagine YOUR team getting stolen out from under you, after years of ineptitude, and then finding success with “great story” guys just four years later… You’d feel this way, too.
(you can follow steve on Twitter @stevebunin)