Thursday, June 14, 2012

Seattle, I'm Very Sorry, But You Are Not Game

I have friends who ask, since they know that I'm their Way Too Into The NBA Guy, if it's OK to root for the Thunder, given the circumstances of their birth.

Let's take this away from the ownership right away. The vast majority of NBA owners are, as we learned during the lockout, complete and utter scumbags, dirtballs, blackmail artists and thieves. The lockout just showed all of that in broad relief; nothing that has happened since then should change anyone's mind about that. I feel more warm and cuddly to the average casino owner than I do a pro sports team. They are the evil that must be endured to get to Game, and the less time we spend thinking about them, or treating them with anything more than contempt, the better. So Clay Bennett is a pestilence, but no more than Donald Sterling or Mark Cuban or Ted Dolan or Michael Jordan or Paul Allen or Jerry Krause or Enough Already. Just accept that if you are rooting for a team for its owner, and you are not related or working for said pussbag, you are an idiot. Moving on.

To the zip code. Oklahoma, also known as Red State AmeriKKKa, may be the state I am least likely to live in before I move on to the next plane. I honestly suspect that there are countries, plural, where I do not speak the dominant language, that I would rather live in than Oklahoma. I get that they suffered huge from the actions of home-grown terrorism, but that doesn't wash away a lifetime of Avoid. The Sooner State gives us college football (miss), Jim Imhofe, the Senator From Oil that seems personally offended at the idea that people who believe that climate change exists and might be a problem we want to address aren't being rounded up and put in camps (double miss), and about as much social tolerance as the more cosmopolitan parts of Afghanistan.

I could go on about what's wrong with the place, but let's just cut to the chase and say this: if you had a job offer that would require relocation to the area, how much more would they have to pay you to take the gig? I'm thinking... 300% of my current number. Or enough so that I could do many, many things to help forget where I now lived.

I have other friends who live in Seattle. I've also spent a few weeks there on several occasions, and I have to tell you, it's in my top ten of places where I could easily and happily live. (The list, in no particular order: New York, the Bay Area, Austin, Vancouver, Portland, Philly, where I am right now, London, and Wellington, NZ.)

I love Pike's Place, the Needle, Mount Ranier, Copper River salmon, the views, the golf (surprisingly good and cheap), the nightlife, the easy access to Asia, and so on, and so on. I went to college at Syracuse. I can handle rain and gray skies, because when they part, you are living in paradise. And know it, and have earned it, and appreciate it. If you won a trip to OKC, you'd wonder why; if you won a trip to Seattle, you'd be at the airport.

I've rooted for the Sonics in the past. The Gary Payton / Shawn Kemp teams may be the best non-Bulls team of the '90s, and before that, I got a ton of cheap roto numbers out of Xavier McDaniel and Dale Ellis. As a kid, I had more than a little love for the Seahawks of Jim Zorn, Dave Krieg, Original Curt Warner, Logan Easley (beastly safety, huge hitter), and Steve Largent in his pre-Congress days. As the non-Raider team in the AFC West, it wasn't hard to root for them, and even their goofy uniforms were fun. The Mariners were never really that much of a favorite for me, since I didn't pay much attention to them before being an A's fan, but Safeco is one of those places I'd really like to see a game. It's a great place, and doesn't feel like any other part of the U.S.; in an increasingly homogenized and franchised land where the Internet and mass communication is killing regional differences, that's a compliment.

You might notice some by now, in paragraph eight: nothing that I've written so far has anything to do with what has happened in the NBA Finals so far, or what will happen next. That's because Seattle has, well, nothing to do with these things.

Seattle Fan, what happened to your town was awful, is awful, and will be awful for a very, very long time. If you go to bed every night plotting David Stern's death, if you perform demonic voodoo rituals that involve various extremities falling off or an afterlife where he's trapped in a room with Stephen A. Smith, Jim Rome and Skip Bayless for all eternity (note: this is also Hell for Rome, and on some level, you'd also have to feel for the demons that had to go to work near this area), I'd say you were as justified as can be.

But, and here's the awful, awful, awful truth... what happened to you wasn't on the court. And if it's not on the court, in the long run, no one cares. But you.

The Thunder could play in North Korea, and I'd still watch them. They could play in Tehran, and I'd eventually find something nice to say about the fans, just because they were somewhere near this team. Their fans in OKC could forgo the blue shirts and come in white robes and hoods, and I'd suspect that this, too, helped support the home team, since they would be much more used to it than the roadies.

Thunder Fan comes early, stay throughout, scream for miles and puts every other fan base in the Association to shame with their devotion. Just like Portland used to do, just like Sacramento used to do, and just like the Warriors always do. (Oh, Warrior Fan, you so deserve a real franchise.)

Not that it excuses things or matters, but they are better at this than you, but that really doesn't matter that much, either. Maybe every franchise should move every few years to some virgin territory, just to get this level of home court nitrous.

Having said that... you could put the Thunder in an empty warehouse with no real fan base (Newark?), and they'd still be one of my favorite teams in recent memory. You could disclose that their ownership not only robs cities of their teams, but is also personally responsible for reality TV, and I'd grit my teeth and look past it.

There are worse owners. There are worse cities. There are no better fans.

And if you really love hoop, you would forget what it said on the laundry and root for them, because they are just that much fun to watch.

Oh, and one final point: the crowds are with me on this. Game One did record ratings for ABC, up 10% over last year's Mavs-Heat game. Seattle was under the national average in 40th place, tied with San Diego. And the market that's watching the 5th most in the country, behind the local markets for these two teams is... Cleveland. Heh. (Oh, and I hope you are sitting down for the fact that the Boston and Los Angeles markets have tuned out.)

So, feel bad all you want. Turn away from the casino owners; you probably always should. The rest of us, who love the game and put up with the rest, will be glued to our sets.

And if you aren't...

Well, doesn't that just kind of prove the point that the players might be better off now?


Brandon said...

If you don't like OKC, fine, but the racist thing is just crazy. I've lived in Oklahoma my entire life and have never met anyone who was in the KKK or would be. I've never seen a klan hood this side of O Brother Where Art Thou and our reputation as "friendly and courteous" extends to people of all races and ethnic backgrounds. If you like Seattle better that's one thing, hell, I'd probably rather live in Seattle, but we're not racists. Thanks for the kinds words about our hometown crowd and the team though. Love the blog. Thunder up.

Brandon said...

Also, it's Clay Bennett. Not Glen lol.

DMtShooter said...

Fixed, thanks for the catch and kind words.

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