Sonic fans send their regards during the franchises last hoorah in Seattle
There is never a wrong time to reminisce about our Seattle Supersonics. Never. There is hardly a week where I don’t at least think about it once, wonder what my life would be like if certain unfortunate and uncontrollable events didn’t take place and what the future of our city’s NBA fate is.
In fact, now is as an appropriate time as ever to think about those things.
In case you didn’t know the NBA is entrenched in a bitter and ugly lockout where David Stern says some mean things and the players say mean things and they all come off the playground and into the classroom really mad at each other.
Something like that.
To the rest of America I’m sure they’re all as devastated and confused as ever as to why the NBA can’t just do what the NFL has done and come to terms just in the nick of time to save basketball!
The money is there, right? All they have to do is just split it fairly! Just like football! Problem solved!
The money is not there. Basketball has a broken business model and it doesn’t matter how many fans go to games. It doesn’t matter how many fans watch games and it doesn’t matter how great your fan base is.
America looked upon Seattle with sympathy and pity as our Supersonics were ripped out of our arms. ‘Well,” they said. “Should’ve just gone to the games.”
If it were that damn simple the team would be here, and the entire league wouldn’t be in a financial crisis of hundreds of millions of dollars proportions.
Seattle could have sold out every game from 2004-2008 and still would have been suffering millions in losses, and the same scenario is happening to small market teams around the league.
Hell, Seattle wasn’t even a small market, we just had a tiny arena that couldn’t gobble up money at a rate that was acceptable according to the NBA’s grand economic model. And we lost our team because of it.
Fan support? That had nothing to do with it.
Anybody who watched a game at the Key Arena through the 90’s, up until the time Howard Schultz purchased the franchise, knows that Seattle had one of the most raucous environments in the NBA. A ticket to the Key Arena was the hardest ticket in town. Think about how hard it is to get Seahawk season tickets now. Now multiply that difficulty by ten. You have the Sonics in the 90s.
None of that mattered to David Stern. Our building was too small. Not enough suites. No restaurants inside the building. Screw the fans, Stern thought, they shouldn’t be feeding the economy of the surrounding Queen Anne food establishments, they should be paying twice as much of their hard earned money inside the Arena.
We had none of that. Forget the fact that Seattle had clearly and unequivocally supported the franchise both emotionally and financially just fine for thirty-two years prior to the last lockout.
To tell me that the team left because of fan support would be to be wrong. Period.
Small market teams or franchises with inadequate arenas can’t compete because the Joe Johnson’s and Rashard Lewis’ of the world are making like $17 million a year.
The Sonics were paying Ray Allen $18 Million a year. Because he was worth it? No. Because we had to. ‘Max contracts’ are the only way to keep a player of that ‘All-Star'(I say that lightly, trust me) stature. Otherwise he walks, and you lose that much more fan support.
It’s completely and utterly a lose-lose situation.
America didn’t believe us. Believe us now?
Memphis, Atlanta, Milwaukee, Charlotte, New Orleans. These franchises will collapse and die unless the economics are changed. Their buildings are just fine, Charlotte has a palace they just built eight years ago. Are their fan bases the issue? No. Michael Redd and Mike Conley getting paid the salaries comparable to guys like Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers in the NFL is the problem. And the revenues coming in to the NBA certainly aren’t on par with their NFL counterparts.
So stop blaming fan support, in any city.
The only thing fans are guilty for is not getting behind campaigns in which hundreds of millions in tax dollars are being required to be surrendered to NBA franchises. Most fans are left asking why they should pay more in order to build palaces for NBA teams that are huge and extravagant enough to supplement an incoming revenue large enough to keep up with expanding player salaries. (Wasn’t a problem in Orlando, I guess.)
David Stern packed up our franchise and trucked them down to Oklahoma ‘middle of fucking nowhere’ City because of mistakes he made. Mistakes that he made and that we had to pay for.
No Team Is Safe.
We told you so, America.