Commentary: Championship Night Will Be Exciting – But Bittersweet
By Aaron Levine
We start by putting our spotlight on a special night at KeyArena this Tuesday – when the Seahawks’ Lombardi Trophy will be on display, alongside the Larry O’Brien Trophy won by the Sonics in 1979 – and the two WNBA Championship Trophies won by the Seattle Storm.
The sight will be memorable and impressive – but it comes with some sadness. The Sonics trophy will be there – only because its appearance was approved by the Oklahoma City Thunder organization.
It’s a reminder that the Larry O’Brien Trophy currently sits inside Seattle’s Museum of History and Industry on South Lake Union, but is still legally owned by the Thunder franchise – thanks to that ridiculous settlement with owner Clay Bennett back in 2008. It means the Thunder have rights to bring the trophy to Oklahoma City for promotional purposes if they’d like – and that they’re the reigning authority over the trophy’s whereabouts. It even means that, if they really wanted to, they could replace the real trophy in Seattle with a replica one.
Three years ago, the guys at SonicsGate documented these unfortunate circumstances, when the local band “The Blue Scholars” wanted to feature the trophy in a music video with Sonics legend Slick Watts.
That’s ridiculous on a number of levels – not the least of which that the league itself is dominated by a hip-hop culture.
Meanwhile, the NBA recently announced its plans to commemorate championships with a gold patch on the back of team jerseys, noting how many titles a franchise has won. The Thunder is currently deciding whether to have that patch on their jersey, to honor the Sonics 1979 title.
I think we’re all in agreement when I say – seriously, don’t bother. To me, the “shared history” is disrespectful and ridiculous – and I’m tired of hearing that Gary Payton or Shawn Kemp hold the Thunder’s franchise record in this category or that category.
So this Tuesday night, I encourage everyone to attend the Storm game – to see those championship trophies on display together for the first time. It’s certainly a night of celebration and civic pride.
But it’s also a reminder of the bitter circumstances in which this city continues to suffer in regards to the NBA. We have no say – when it comes to the Sonics, we’re still at the mercy of decisions made in Oklahoma City.
That’s a nightmare that needs to end – preferably sooner rather than later.