Imagine you just gave birth to your first child. From the start you support your child in every conceivable way, showing nothing but unconditional love. Although his childhood has its ups and downs, for the most part he shows promise for his future. You send him off to college, and he returns with a 4.0 GPA and an internship with a law firm in New York, promising to pay for his entire college tuition by himself. He even promises to buy you a mansion and a brand new Bentley once he makes it big. It seems as if your stellar parenting is beginning to reveal dividends.
Then, for no apparent reason, child protective services decides to give him to another family, barring you from ever again speaking to the child you’ve raised your entire life.
Welcome to the life of a fan of the Seattle SuperSonics.
In 2008, the team I had grown up loving and supporting unconditionally was abruptly uprooted and shipped off to the Bible Belt, never to return. Just one year before, the Sonics had drafted Kevin Durant — the most promising college player since Tim Duncan. I had spent the prior college basketball season in awe of Durant’s ability to be both an elite post player and a killer outside shooter, hoping and praying the Sonics would have the opportunity to draft him.
Sure enough, we snagged the second pick in the draft. Durant fell into our laps.
Immediately Durant was my favorite player. Even on a terrible Sonics squad, he displayed flashes of brilliance. These brief moments convinced me that this team was headed towards greatness with Durant at the helm. After years of rooting for mediocre to decent teams led by good-but-not-great guards like Gary Payton and Ray Allen, Seattle had acquired a bonafide superstar.
And then Howard Schultz screwed over the city of Seattle.
Schultz, already thought of as a distant business presence with no real rooting interest in the team, declined to attempt to secure funding for a new arena and sold the team to a group of businessmen who wanted to move the team to Oklahoma City, and did.
As the franchise — now named the Thunder — blossomed into a championship contender, led by a player that will always belong to Seattle basketball history.
Fast forward to 2012. The fear of the Zombie Sonics making a championship run manifested itself for the first time in these playoffs. The youth of Durant, Westbrook, and Harden proved to be one of their greatest strengths in their playoff run — not what experts had said would be their tallest barrier.
Even a fundamentally sound team like the Spurs could not match the athleticism and energy that Durant and Co. were bringing night after night. In taking down the Mavericks, the Lakers and the Spurs, the Thunder proved their place atop the Western Conference
Watching the Zombie Sonics in the playoffs was an interesting dilemma. On one hand, the Thunder were the most exciting team to watch. I loved watching Westbrook taking jumpers with reckless abandon, Harden using his hesitation step to get to the rack with ease, and Durant running around the court making shots from literally anywhere he chooses.
On the other hand, I still can’t get over the fact that the fans behind this team should be the great people of the Pacific Northwest.
Every time I watch Durant play, I can’t help but picture him in the green-and-gold, the Key Arena exploding with every swished three.
It feels wrong and empty rooting for a team that plays its games thousands of miles away from my hometown. I still believe wholeheartedly that this team should be Seattle’s. My conscience won’t allow me to root for a stolen team. I was happy the Thunder lost in the Finals.
But I doubt I’ll ever be able to quiet that 13-year-old kid inside me who hopes, desperately, that one day Kevin Durant will lead his team to a title.
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