Coach's Corner

Like everyone else, the news of the Seattle Sonics being sold and most likely leaving the northwest for Oklahoma in the very near future made me sad, angry, and confused. I was actually a season ticket holder in 1969. It was just a few years after I had gotten out of college and my ticket cost me an even one hundred dollars for the whole year. That's right. $2.50 a game.

I became a lifelong Sonics fan. A buddy of mine bought the ticket next to me and we either traded tickets or went together to cheer on the chain-smoking Sonic Center Bob Rule. Walt Hazard was another star we yelled for. Beers were a dollar each, unless of course you bought the giant ones and they went for $3.00 (which we thought was outrageous).

Years later I really jumped on the fan wagon and cheered them all the way to the NBA Championship. I was working for Lenny Wilkins at the time on his basketball camps, so I had great perks because of it. Those two years, 1978-79, were magical and one of the greatest sports periods in Seattle's history. I remember the parade and all the hoopla surrounding Seattle's only Championship ever. It is just sad to see it all come to an end.

The new owners say they want to keep the teams in Seattle, but the writing is on the wall. This is the same group who pledged to permanently bring a franchise to Oklahoma City when they have to give back their team to New Orleans. All of the partners are from Oklahoma and there can be no doubt as to why they bought this franchise.

Forty years of sports history goes down the drain when the likely move east happens, and the Sonics will join the baseball Pilots as another lost Seattle professional franchise in the out-of-control world of professional sports.

The former Sonics ownership group's investment was well substantiated by their $75 million dollar profit in a five-year window. Doesn't make me feel much better as a fan, though. Fact is, they sold us out.

I guess many like me will buy their lattes at Tully's instead of Starbucks. Howard Schultz and all of his civic-minded claims don't really fly anymore. He sold us to a bunch of Sooners who will move this franchise - you guessed it - sooner, rather than later.

Now if you have to look for a silver lining, look no further than Montlake Boulevard. With no Storm in town, the Husky women will again become the darlings of womens hoops. I can remember when Chris Gobrecht really had Hec-Ed rocking before Barbara Hedges ran her out of town. That was before the professional WNBA came to Seattle, and since then they have really divided up the women's fans.

Lorenzo Romar already coaches in front of sold-out crowds, and if the Sonics do indeed leave, then Todd Turner can legitimately raise his prices without coming close to what the NBA charges. Today a family of four can go to a Husky game for what it costs to buy one Sonics ticket. Romar will have a monopoly on basketball and Hec-Ed will remain one of the greatest home-court advantages in the country.

Seattle isn't the first or last city to lose a franchise, and maybe the NHL will take over the lease to Key Arena and move a franchise to fill the void. The NBA priced me and my family out a long time ago, but the NHL could do the same thing. I don't know.

Remember it was this same management, led by the genius Wally Walker, that has given away millions to at least three awful centers trying to plug up the middle. Then they turn around and complain about not getting a sweetheart deal like the Mariners and Seahawks.

Well, anyway...Howard showed us, didn't he? Remember when he first bought the franchise and was a Mark Cuban wannabe, jumping up and down and drawing as much attention as he could to himself? Ah, those were the good old days. Back when we used to have an NBA basketball franchise. Now NBA and Sonics fans can only be seat warmers for a future Oklahoma City team while the current Hornets prepare to move back home to Katrina-ravaged New Orleans.

Me? No thanks. I'll be sitting in Hec-Ed cheering on the Dawgs. Top Stories