Monday, February 11, 2013

Tactless in Seattle

This is awful. Actually, I should specify: Sacramento’s NBA franchise moving to Seattle after a rather public courtship is awful for the fans. It’ll work out just fine for the owners, and probably even better for the league. New stadiums flaunt, new merchandise to sell, and hey even though they won’t be able to the threat of moving to Seattle as leverage for franchises anymore, they’ll be able to do the same thing with Sacramento in a couple of years.

There has been plenty of study/discussion of team relocation and how best to handle it. You could just keep on playing and hoping or you could dance on a grave or practically anything in between. After seeing my hometown Twins forced to sit under the damocletian sword of contraction in the aftermath of the 2001 World Series, I got to watch helplessly again as the Viking were batted around as a likely candidate for LA's new NFL franchise* during the second half of 2012. That is at least until the state built them a new stadium. Funny how that sort of thing works out.

*Heaven help the west coast if this had happened. If the Twins, Vikings, North Stars, and Lakers had ever coexisted in the Land of 10,000 Lakes (they didn't), we would have had THE sweetest lineup of cool, prescient, and unique team nicknames anywhere, ever. It's bad enough that the Lakers are playing in a city whose lone body of water is a river that is an arid, crumbling halfpipe on a good day but more commonly a cement-lined open sewer, but to think that the Vikings, too, could have been poached by the silicon silicone earthquake state…ugh.

Beyond naïve hope, and cold bitterness however lies a third pole: enlightenment. This is a large part of what Adam Brown and Jason Reid, the makers of Sonicsgate, preached in their film (the documentary is an excellent look at how the Seattle SuperSonics became the Oklahoma City Thunder and I highly recommend it). And it’s the same pill they prescribe for the downtrodden citizens of Sac-town. Educate yourselves about the system! Learn of its inequities! See how it protects an elite cabal of men who don’t give a damn about you, your son, Game 6, or Shawn Kemp! Realize just how little power you have!

But no! Seattle fans led in part by Brown and Reid have been through all of that and insist they still want – still NEED – a team. Even if they have to put a city through a process every bit as cruel and corrupt as what they claim to have experienced. Basically, Reid and Brown wrote an open letter telling the world they failed to learn the lessons of their own documentary.

In twenty years, when I’m watching the  most talented scorer in the world lead the Santa Fe Supersonics against the El Paso Timberwolves and their dynamic young point guard, I’ll remember that a few more mid-market cities were once again made casualties of the system. Then I’ll remember it’s what the system does and that it was Seattle who taught me this lesson. Somewhere in St. Paul, I’ll turn off the TV, go outside, and play with my kids. In Seattle, Brown and Reid will be locked in their offices, making offerings at their homemade shrine to David Stern and frantically working the phones trying to find a buyer – I hear the Charlotte Bobcats are available.

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