Basketball is back in Seattle… for at least one night.
The Golden State Warriors plan to host the first NBA game in Seattle, Washington since the SuperSonics (now Thunder) relocated to Oklahoma City in 2008.
The Warriors are set to host the Sacramento Kings on Oct. 6 in a preseason game in Seattle.
Golden State star Kevin Durant is expected to make a return to where he began his NBA career. Durant was drafted by the Sonics No. 2 overall in the 2007 NBA Draft and played his rookie season in Seattle prior to the team’s relocation.
Kevin Durant on a potential Warriors preseason game in Seattle: “That’d be dope”
He then talks some Key Arena memories from his rookie season pic.twitter.com/pQ3JtXoN6j
— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) February 22, 2018
The last official NBA game in Seattle was the Sonics’ final home game on April 13, 2008. Since, the city of Seattle recently approved a proposal by the Oak View Group to rebuild KeyArena into a larger venue capable of hosting NBA and NHL franchises.
Now, what does this mean for basketball in Seattle?
By scheduling an NBA game in Seattle since the Sonics left, this game pushes for reconciliation, re-introduction and a new opportunity to re-ignite a very tortured and passionate fan base that could lead to an expansion or relocation franchise.
On top of the city’s potential addition for an NHL team, the re-addition of an NBA franchise would immediately make the Seattle one of the best sports cities in the country.
With a strong ownership group, the NBA franchise could become a dominant force in free agency. As a diverse and growing city, especially for younger generations, that is a perfect place to raise a family, Seattle certainly has many strong arguments for free agents to come and suit up for the city.
What makes Seattle a great location for an expansion or relocation team to come?
Seattle’s basketball culture is one of the richest in the sport. The Seattle SuperSonics played their first NBA season in 1967, becoming the first professional sports team in the Pacific Northwest. Featuring many Hall of Famers such as Gary Payton and Spencer Haywood as well as some of the most exciting players to watch in NBA history (Shawn Kemp, Ray Allen), not having the Sonics franchise is like a missing piece in the whole puzzle that is the game of basketball.
Players and coaches like Allen and Toronto Raptors Head Coach Dwane Casey have supported a move back to Seattle.
Seattle has grown so much since I was last here. What a great city! I had some great memories not too far away from the #spaceneedle. I still can’t believe that there is no basketball in Seattle!! 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. let’s make this happen people!!! The NBA misses traveling to Seattle, I know I certainly do!!!!! #bringbackoursonics #keyarena #seattlecenter
“It blows my mind…” Seattle doesn’t have an NBA team – Toronto Raptors Coach, former Sonics asst, Dwane Casey via @wojespn
— Chris Daniels (@ChrisDaniels5) February 19, 2018
Much like Los Angeles, the greater Seattle area is a hotbed for basketball talent. Over the last five NBA Drafts, six former Huskies have been drafted in the first round, including three in the lottery. Most notably, former Trail Blazer star Brandon Roy coaches one of the top high school basketball programs in the country.
So… basketball culture in Seattle is rich. Why does that matter?
Many homegrown players from the area have gone on to see success in the NCAA and NBA. The list of players is astonishing: Jamal Crawford, Nate Robinson, Spencer Hawes, Luke Ridnour, Doug Christie and Isaiah Thomas, among others.
Sure, these players aren’t all from Seattle, but each player is a display of how much basketball has grown since the Sonics first played in 1967. This sort of civic pride isn’t limited to Seattle, and has been universal to other booming cities in the United States: New York, D.C., Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Oakland and San Francisco. All these cities have one thing in common: a rich basketball tradition.
The players that played in Seattle loved the city, and the city loved them back. The Sonics laid the groundwork that inspired children to pick up a basketball. Through it, a fraternity has emerged in the NBA, and has allowed those that were first inspired by Seattle basketball to give back to future generations.
Seattle needs an NBA team – not as a gift to the Pacific Northwest, but a gift to the beautiful game of basketball. Hopefully for basketball fans in Seattle, the October preseason game won’t be the last for the city.
Photos by Getty Images // Spark Sports Illustration
Follow Arthur Puu on Twitter: @arthurpuu