With the excitement of an NHL Season Ticket drive beginning this Thursday, came unexpected news that the NBA will play a preseason game at KeyArena this October.
It's a game that will be considered an insulting cash grab to some. A great opportunity to others.
And while I see both sides, most of all, I consider it a refreshing sign of diplomacy, and potentially, a really fun night.
To be clear, I have no expectations. I’m well aware preseason games are often played in non-NBA towns like Bakersfield or Tulsa, where they’re a much bigger deal, because their home arenas tend to draw smaller crowds for preseason games. The skeptic in me immediately points to preseason games at the Sprint Center in Kansas City - a city that was promised a pro sports team that still doesn’t have one.
But relations between Seattle and the NBA have been so strained for so long – and in my mind, for good reason – that this gesture (and that’s what it is – a gesture) – can either be shunned or embraced.
And honestly, what good can come from shunning it? I’m inclined to put skepticism aside for a night and embrace it.
Kevin Durant will be back in town. Steph Curry will be here too. And even they only play a few minutes, it still gives all of us a chance to pack an arena and enjoy league-sanctioned basketball with each other once again. And while, as I said last week, we don’t have to prove anything to the NBA, the message that three hours of enthusiasm can send from fans wearing green and gold can only be a positive.
Again, a preseason NBA game in Seattle certainly isn’t akin to the Berlin Wall finally coming down. But it IS a sign of a slow thawing of the “Cold War” between a league and the city it’s spurned multiple times.
I’m not sure who said it this week, but many of us have children who have never understood life with the Sonics. Our kids don’t harbor any hatred or ill-will toward the league because they didn’t have their hearts ripped out when they left. And while there’s no promise by anyone that one night will lead to anything more, it’s still a chance to show them what Sonics culture was like – and can be one day.
As many of you know, I’ve had a standing policy not to show NBA highlights unless it involved a local player – since the Sonics left town.
The premise was, “Why give the league any love, if they’re not showing Seattle any love?”
But on October 6th, I’ll show highlights. Because the league is throwing us some semblance of a bone.
Finally, it’s important to note that the biggest supporters and the biggest skeptics of this night have one thing in common: Passion. Passion for the Sonics. Passion for their return.
So boycott if you’d like. But for one night in October, I choose to be surrounded by hope. By optimism.
And to show that we, as a fanbase, continue to be the bigger person. Spurned, but unfazed. And united in the biggest message of all: Bringing 'Em Back.