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Seahawks’ Bobby Wagner: ‘I would love the Sonics to come back’

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 21:  Middle linebacker Bobby Wagner #54 of the Seattle Seahawks on the sidelines during the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on December 21, 2014 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 21: Middle linebacker Bobby Wagner #54 of the Seattle Seahawks on the sidelines during the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on December 21, 2014 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

What do you say when a kid comes up to you and says, ‘I want to be the next Bobby Wagner?’

I say, ‘Be Better!’ Honestly. I feel like you have all the opportunity to do better. You just have that freedom, have that open mind to want to learn, want to figure out what things you’re good at – listen to the people in your life, whether it’s your parents, your mentors. If you listen and just explore and just love life, they’re so young – you don’t have to worry about bills and all sorts of stuff. You just have fun with life. I think that’s the big thing.

At what point did you realize, ‘You’re a legitimate role model?’

I always go to the term, like Tupac said, ‘I’m not a role model, I’m a real model.’ This is who I always am. It’s not a role. It’s something that I feel I truly am. I want people to look up and I want people to see that this is somebody who is who he is. And I want kids to know that they can be who they are and that’s good enough. You know, you don’t have to be something that you’re not. Be yourself. And that’s gonna get your far in life.

Who’d you look up to growing up?

Outside of my parents and people like that, I looked up to Michael Jordan, Allen Iverson, Ray Lewis, Tupac. I feel like there’s a lot of people in my life that inspire me too. When you surround yourself with inspiring people, it’s contagious.

What would you be doing right now if you weren’t playing football – or playing professional sports, because I know you want to be a professional basketball player.

If I wasn’t playing a professional sport, I feel like I would be in business in some sort. That’s what I got my degree in. It’s something I’m passionate about. I love money and learning with numbers and so, you know, before I switched to my business degree from marketing, I was in finances – so I love to play with numbers. I feel like I’m good with people and I’m good with numbers, so I know business is something along those lines.

Clearly you have a passion for basketball. Some of your teammates have worn Sonics gear over the last couple years. How badly do you want the Sonics to come back to the area?

I would love the Sonics to come back. I think that’s the only thing we’re missing – that basketball team. I would love to be there for Opening Night or to watch Steph (Curry) or LeBron (James) come in and play. Just imagine if we would’ve still had Kevin Durant and all those guys still here. I think we need a team. I think it’s in the works. And I feel like we’re gonna get a team. We need a team. Seattle deserves a team.

Would you be willing, along with some of your teammates, as private citizens, to talk in front of the Seattle City Council to try and sway them that way?

Me personally, yeah. If they asked me to, I’d definitely talk in front of whoever I need to talk to – tell them how beneficial a basketball team would be here. Hopefully they’d listen. I think they would.

Last question: Do more people know where Ontario, California is and not necessarily thinking that you’re from Ontario, Canada?

No. Whenever anyone sees “Ontario, CA,” they always think, “Canada.” When I say I’m from Ontario, they’re always like, “Canada.” So, we’re trying to do our best to get them to understand where Ontario is. It’s part of the Inland Empire. It’s probably 45 minutes from LA. So, I’m just hoping that I keep playing better and more people know Ontario.