Mark Woods blogs for NBA.com from the United Kingdom. The following is excerpted from his 3 December post (no permalinks that I could find, alas):
I cannot believe, deep down, that [NBA Commissioner David] Stern wants to facilitate moving the Sonics to what is, in American terms, the back of beyond. From a large-ish media market which represents all that is exciting about Uncle Sam’s 21st century aspirations to a small-ish city which has always been a college rather than a pro town. A team which, like the Hornets of Charlotte before it, was woven into the fabric before a renegade owner began to unpluck the stitches.
It would, in truth, provide the worst example of the cold corporatism of sport if the Commish did not intervene, somehow, to halt this trade. The NBA is, and always shall remain, a business. With owners, shareholders and a mighty bottom line. Any business, though, is only viable if it has customers who trust in the product. And in sport, there is another range of factors: affection, identification and passion. Forget that, and a team becomes as much a commodity as a tin of baked beans.
And if that is sport in the modern era, it will not last. The links will be broken. The kinship will decay. Who wants to place their trust and loyalty in a friend who is here today but maybe gone tomorrow? If the Sonics decamp, the sanctity of the game will be chipped away once more, another blow in an age where the ties that bind are being yanked to breaking point by players who are ever more distant from those who cheer them on. It is a tremor which will not only be felt in Seattle but elsewhere too. And when that call comes, and the news breaks, the cries will be loud as faith turns to disbelief.
I like it here in the “back of beyond,” myself, and I don’t believe that it will always remain such, but let me repeat that line:
Who wants to place their trust and loyalty in a friend who is here today but maybe gone tomorrow?
Do Seattle fans still trust the Sonics ownership? As far as they could throw them, maybe. Then again, the Sonics are still selling a lot more tickets than the New Orleans Hornets are.
Pass the beans.