Apr 1, 2019
Documentary filmmakers Jason Reid and Adam Brown (Sonicsgate: Requiem for a Team) join host Tim Hanlon to discuss the long, tortuous and acrimoniously messy departure of the NBA’s iconic Seattle SuperSonics to Oklahoma City in the summer of 2008 – a story newly relevant as the “Emerald City” prepares to welcome a new NHL expansion franchise, and as former owner (and Starbucks CEO Emeritus) Howard Schultz publicly explores a run for the US Presidency.
A real-life drama replete with local political intrigue, wily (and/or naïve) business dealings, and an array of villains straight out of Hollywood central casting – the Sonics-to-Thunder saga has quickly become a chilling metaphor for the triumph of business revenue streams and facilities real estate over the spectacle of athletic competition or the rooting interests of fans.
Reid and Brown walk Hanlon through: the landing (in 1967) and honeymoon first years of Seattle’s first-ever pro sports franchise; the region’s loving embrace of their own pro hoops team (especially during its 1979 league championship season); the Achilles’ heel of Key Arena and a city government wary of public stadium subsidies; a litany of lawsuits; and a raft of agenda-driven actors like the in-over-his-skis Schultz, a devious Oklahoma City lead investor Clay Bennett, and a complicit NBA Commissioner David Stern – all of whom share blame for the Sonics’ ignominious relocation in the minds and hearts of Seattle sports fans.
Plus: we speculate whether the 2021 arrival of the NHL to Seattle portends a return of NBA basketball – perhaps in the form of a newly constituted SuperSonics – in the years ahead!