With all due respect to the Oklahoma City Thunder, there are many basketball fans all over the world who pine for the return of the Seattle SuperSonics.
The Emerald City was a key part of the NBA’s revolution in the 1980s and 90s, and at the heart of that was the fun and thrills that the Sonics delivered in four decades of on-court entertainment.
Success was never in short supply either, with an NBA Championship title in 1979 backed by a number of Western Conference and Pacific Division triumphs.
The irony in the demise of the Sonics is that one of the fundamental reasons that they were sold to Clay Bennett is that the Seattle-based ownership group, which featured Howard Schultz among others, were unable to secure funding to revolutionize the city’s KeyArena stadium.
In the decade or so that has passed since the nasty legal battle that ensued after Bennett took the Sonics to Oklahoma, work has begun on giving the KeyArena a much-needed facelift. After a projected $930 million spend, the New Arena at the Seattle Center is expected to open at some point in 2021.
And its facilities? A, 18,000 seat arena perfect for ice hockey (the NHL expansion franchise will move here for the 2021-22 season), soccer, boxing, live music and cultural events. Oh, and basketball, of course. The Seattle Center’s own website boasts that the new build ‘will offer a truly unique and intimate experience for NHL and NBA.’
But which team exactly will be delivering that ‘intimate’ NBA experience?
Garnett and Bird Long for Sonics Return
Here’s an intriguing scenario: what would happen if the Thunder relocated to the Seattle Center when it opens for business?
Because they aren’t considered an expansion franchise, they could, in theory, change their name back to the Seattle SuperSonics, but there is so much water under the bridge you have to wonder how popular such a move would prove to be for all concerned.
The other option would be for Seattle to apply for its own franchise team within the next few years. Okay, so it wouldn’t be the Sonics, but still, it would give the basketball fanatics in the city and its environs their own NBA team to cheer once more, rather than the resentment they feel towards the Thunder.
It’s not as if the Oklahoma outfit has cashed in on their acquired assets. At one point or another, they have had Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden on their books, and a paltry return of a solitary NBA Finals is a sorry effort indeed with such talent on the roster. They remain a permanent fixture towards the top end of the bookmakers’ latest basketball odds and markets for the NBA, but the Thunder are yet to produce the silverware to back up such optimism.
Kevin Garnett, the Hall of Famer, has spoken of his desire to buy a basketball team to reform the Sonics, and while from a legal perspective that is unlikely to have any legs, there is a chance that a Garnett led team could play ball at the Seattle Center – who knows where that journey would end?
He would have plenty of support, with Durant speaking so fondly of his time at the KeyArena and the likes of Sue Bird speaking positively about the Sonics on social media.
— Sue Bird (@S10Bird) April 28, 2020
For now, Seattle may be shy of an NBA franchise to truly call their own. But could that all change within the next couple of years?