Doug Christie wants the Sonics back.
The 1988 graduate of Rainier Beach High School is among a class of 12 former student athletes to be inducted Thursday night into the Seattle Public Schools Athletic Hall of Fame.
He said Wednesday that might not be the case if he didn’t grow up watching NBA basketball in his hometown.
“Without the SuperSonics, man, I don’t know if I play basketball,” he said.
Christie recalled meeting former Sonics guard Gus Williams at a young age. He said he was even photographed getting an autograph from Williams. The picture was featured in the Seattle Times.
A few years later, Christie said he got the opportunity through a youth group to attend a game with forward Xavier McDaniels.
“Those are the thing for me,” he said. “In those moments, I said, ‘This is what I want to do with my life.’ That’s because we had the SuperSonics.”
In high school, Christie led Rainier Beach to its first state title as a senior in 1988 and was named the state player of the year. He attended Pepperdine and helped lead the Waves to back-to-back trips to the NCAA tournament.
He was actually drafted by the Sonics, but never played for them after being traded with Benoit Benjamin to the Lakers in 1993 for Sam Perkins.
He went on to play 15 seasons in the NBA with seven teams.
Along the way, he never lost his love for the Sonics and the Pacific Northwest.
“I think they’re sorely missed in the NBA,” he said. “There was a rivalry between the Sonics and the Blazers that growing up as a kid I got to watch. Jerome Kersey became a good friend of mine, so I got to get behind the scenes a little bit. That I-5 battle was an incredible one.”
Now as an on-air analyst for the Sacramento Kings, Christie said he sees firsthand the struggles in other NBA cities, making it all the more upsetting that Seattle has gone more than 10 years without a franchise.
“Seeing some of the cities where basketball is in right now, the people don’t show up to those games,” he said. “But when basketball comes to Seattle, they show up in spades. It’s a beautiful thing.”
As a Seattle native, Christie said, he still hasn’t gotten over the team’s departure.
“For a basketball-loving city,” he said, “it’s a big hole and wound that needs to be taken care of and I’m hoping that the league will ultimately do that.”
Fully admitting bias, he said he couldn’t think of a better place to have a team.
“Seattle is one of the great cities in not just our country,” he said. “But the world.”