Posts Tagged ‘Seattle Supersonics’

Now that major renovations to Seattle’s KeyArena have been approved, is the city prepared for the return of an NBA franchise?

Seattle city council recently voted 7-1 in favor of a proposal for a $600-million redevelopment of KeyArena, in the hopes of attracting another major sports franchise. It’s a step in the right direction in the process for the NBA to bring basketball back to Seattle.

Oak View Group CEO Tim Leiweke is heavily invested in the city, understanding that the talk of a Seattle-based franchise has been a hot topic since the NBA left Seattle for Oklahoma City. Leiweke has been around sports franchises for a long time and has a realistic, but optimistic, outlook on the matter.

“I’ve been through this,” Leiweke told reporters, according to Yahoo Sports Chris Mannix. “I’ve seen teams ripped out of communities. It’s not a pretty thing to go through. I feel the pain, and we’ve been dealing with Sonics Rising and the Sonic community, and we understand. Lots of people have preferences about the NHL compared to the NBA. Whichever one comes first, if we do a great job with them, the other one will come.”

Leiweke uttering “the other one will come” may give a feeling of hope for basketball fans in the Pacific Northwest. Seattle mayor Jenny Durkan went as far as to tease Seattleite’s during the agreement signing, wearing a Seattle SuperSonics T-shirt under her blazer.

With the NHL carrying 31 franchises and aiming for an even number, it’s likely they’ll get first dibs. But it’s clear Leiweke won’t stop there.

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seattle-sonics

Seattle could someday have an NBA team again.

In a Players’ Tribune interview with Portland Trail Blazers shooting guard C.J. McCollum last week, commissioner Adam Silver said it’s possible the league will bring a franchise back to the city, but he doesn’t know when.

“I think it’s just a question of when the right time is to seriously start thinking about expansion,” said Silver.

“I don’t want to put a precise timeline on it, but it’s inevitable at some point that we’ll start looking at the growth of franchises. That’s always been the case in this league, and Seattle will no doubt be on a short list of cities we’ll look at,” he added.

The Seattle SuperSonics entered the league in 1967-68 and captured an NBA championship in 1979. The club relocated to Oklahoma City in 2008 and became the Thunder.

Several Sonics greats have been strong proponents of the city regaining a team. Gary Payton said last year that Seattle “deserves” an NBA team and he’d be interested in becoming an owner, while Ray Allen echoed those sentiments in May.

“I still can’t believe that there is no basketball in Seattle,” he wrote in a post on Instagram. “This city is too great not to have a hoops squad. Come on everybody we need to rally and bring the NBA back to Seattle.”

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Build it and they may come.

Amidst his Western Canada media tour, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman was in Vancouver on Thursday and spoke about the possibility of an NHL future in bordering Seattle.

“There’s been a lot of talk for a long period of time about a building or not, and frankly if the city ever gets it act together on a building, then maybe there will be a reason for us to focus on it,” Bettman told reporters. “I’m not saying it will happen if there is a reason, but there’s no reason to focus on it in the absence of a building.”

Local businessman Chris Hansen has been connected with building a new arena in the city, but with a focus on returning the NBA to Seattle. The SuperSonics left for Oklahoma City in 2008.

Seattle has often been mentioned as a new market for the NHL, and an addition in the Pacific Northwest would create a natural rival for the Canucks.

The city has a rich history of hockey. In 1917, the Seattle Metropolitans won the Stanley Cup. Forty-five years later, KeyArena opened and played host to the WHL’s Thunderbirds from 1985 to 2008, when the team left for nearby Kent.

In the meantime, a local Seattle group, led by Tim Leiweke, who has previously been part of both the NHL and NBA, wants to renovate KeyArena in order to accelerate the city’s efforts in attracting a pro team.

Leiweke told Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times that he believes KeyArena can be brought up to par in three to four years. It’s a similar time frame to the construction of the new T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, which broke ground in 2014 and will open to the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights next season.

Still, Leiweke was quick to add Seattle will need to build its team through expansion, noting neither the NHL or NBA sees a franchise relocation on the horizon.

“We believe that there is no franchise today in the NHL or in the NBA that is in danger of being lost as an opportunity over the next few years,” Lieweke told Baker. “And we believe that should Gary Bettman make a decision to expand, that if you look at the last process they just went through, it was a three- to four-year process to get that building built and to get that (Las Vegas) team up and running this next season.”

Kevin Durant

There will be no shortage of suitors with deep pockets once Kevin Durant hits free agency this summer, but the seven-time All-Star hinted that it isn’t necessarily boatloads of money he seeks.

Durant praised David West on Saturday for taking less money last offseason to sign with the San Antonio Spurs in hopes of winning a championship.

“I respect him,” Durant told reporters. “Money isn’t everything. You think about taking care of your family and being financially stable, but from the outside looking in it looks like he (West) said ‘well I’ve been blessed enough to make X amount of dollars and I want to be happy chasing something that is the grand prize in this league.’ I respect him. A lot of guys wouldn’t have done that.”

There has already been a number of teams believed to be interested in making a run at Durant this summer, including the Boston Celtics, Golden State Warriors, and the Spurs.

Durant, who’s made over $130 million in his nine years in the league, has spent his entire career with the Oklahoma City/Seattle organization since he was selected second overall in 2007.

It’s hard to argue that the current brand of NBA basketball isn’t far more tame than it was during the eighties and nineties. There was more leeway for players to be overly physical and ruthless 30 years ago. Today, player safety has become more of a priority.

Basketball Hall of Famer Gary Payton played 17 seasons in the league for five different franchises, with his most prominent run coming as a member of the Seattle Supersonics – now the Oklahoma City Thunder. Nicknamed “The Glove,” Payton terrorized opposing guards on the defensive end with a relentless tenacity paired with a knack for trash talk that very few could come close to emulating.

So, how would Payton fare playing the game in 2015-16? Not very well, he thinks:

Payton’s talent alone would make him an obvious threat had he competed in what he referred to on Twitter as the “soft” era, but considering the nine-time All-Star’s playing history, his in-your-face brand of defense and psychological tactics would have cost him a few dollars along the way.