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Help Save the Sonics, Magic Fans

The Orando Magic have always been my favorite pro sports team, and always will be. But there are other teams I've supported over the years: the New York Yankees, the Indiana Pacers, and the Utah Jazz, to name a few. But I have an ineffable love for the Seattle SuperSonics. Shaq, Penny, Horace, 3-D, and Dennis Scott were "my boys," but I still cheered for Detlef Schrempf, Gary Payton, Shawn Kemp, Hersey Hawkins, Sam Perkins, and even Jim McIlvane. And to prove it, here's a photo of me giving a presentation in my fourth-grade class while wearing a Sonics-themed outfit. Note the Kemp/Payton shirt, matching green shorts, and Gary Payton's signature Nikes.

If you were a basketball fan in the 1990s, you probably know that the Payton-and-Kemp-lead Sonics were one of the most exciting teams in the league:

And you're a basketball fan now, so you probably know the Sonics are on the verge of moving to Oklahoma City. It's a travesty, especially when one considers the Sonics' 41-year history in Seattle and the circumstances surrounding the almost-imminent move. To recap:

  • Starbucks founder Howard Schultz sold the Sonics and the WNBA's Storm to an Oklahoma City-based ownership group lead by Clay Bennett in 2006 with the provision that Bennett et. al would make a "good-faith" effort to keep the team in Seattle before trying to move.
  • After taxpayers refused to finance a new arena for the Sonics, the team informed the league office of its intention to relocate to Oklahoma City in time for the 2008/2009 NBA season.
  • A series of emails between Bennett and other members of the ownership group, recently released by the Seattle Times, shows they bought the team solely to move it to OKC; they had no intention of keeping it in Seattle.
  • Yet NBA Commissioner David Stern, a friend of Bennett who introduced him when Bennett was inducted into the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame, doesn't plan to halt the move, saying he still believes Bennett made a "good-faith" effort.
  • Two days ago, the Seattle Times reported that Schultz is preparing to sue Bennett to rescind the sale and take-back the team, citing breach-of-contract.

Yeah, it's a total freakin' mess. And we should care about it. Peter Nussbaum of SuperSonicSoul explains why better than I could ever hope to:

NBA fandom has an opportunity to finally punch back after being knocked around by the moneyed elite who have been bullying us for the past 25 years. Unlike all previous encounters between the league and its fans, it is the fans with the upper hand in this situation. The Sonics' owners and David Stern have seen a local story grow into a national one, and they are faced with the chilling prospect of entering into a court battle this June, one which will undoubtedly reveal skeletons in closets Stern & Co. do not wish you to see. Further, the owners of the Sonics are unquestionably concerned about losing the case and facing an additional two money-losing seasons in Seattle.

Indeed, a few years ago, Orlando was in danger of losing the Magic, its only major professional sports team, because it wasn't making enough money. Imagine Dwight Howard suiting up for the Kansas City Magic. It hurts, right? Fortunately, we were able to secure funding for a new arena to keep the team in town, and the Magic are here to stay. Seattle wasn't as lucky, and now its citizens and Sonics fans around the globe have to hope that Schultz's lawsuit works... or that other NBA owners, who must vote to approve any franchise's relocation, take a stand and oppose the move. Mark Cuban, the outspoken billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks, told the Seattle Post Intelligencer he will vote against the move. A savvy businessman, Cuban notes that the Sonics franchise will lose money by moving from the Seattle, the fifteenth-largest media market in the country, to Oklahoma City, the forty-fifth-largest media market.

I've wanted to write about this subject for quite a while, but now is the right time. South Florida Sports Fan sent emails to dozens of NBA writers, hoping to start a viral campaign to keep the Sonics in Seattle. Here's what you can do, 3QC readers: write the Orlando Magic and urge them to oppose the Sonics' relocation. Tell them you won't buy tickets to any games featuring the Oklahoma City team. Tell them you won't watch any games featuring the Oklahoma City team. Tell them that you know what it's like to fear losing a team. Tell them they can show they're committed to what's best for every NBA fan, not just every Magic fan, by voting against the move.

Reach the Orlando Magic at this address:

Orlando Magic

8701 Maitland Summit Boulevard

Orlando, FL 32810

Or call them at this telephone number:

407 916 2400

You can also use this form on the team's website to get in touch.

Do your part to save the Sonics.

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