For a decade the loss of the Supersonics has left a void in Seattle. The franchise that helped define the culture of the Puget Sound by inspiring generations of athletes, artists, musicians, educators and business people alike has been missing. On Friday night, for one brief moment it came back…in a way.
“Seattle has been missing the Sonics for a long time.” Said NBA champion and the Sonics former president Wally Walker on Friday. “It’s great to have the NBA back tonight. It doesn’t feel like 10 years has passed but we all want a team back a soon as possible.”
Walker was speaking at a reunion of former Sonics players and their families that was held on the Seattle Center campus hours before tip off of a pre-season contest between the Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings. At the same party was Golden State Warriors president Rick Welts.
Welts, who began his career in the NBA as a ball boy for the Sonics in the 1960’s, rose through the ranks of the NBA and was enshrined in the Naismith Hall Of Fame for his storied career. He was one of the biggest driving forces behind the game taking place in the Emerald City.
“I was on top of the Space Needle this morning and was looking out towards Queen Anne Hill,” Welts said to the gathered Sonics alumni, many of whom he worked with as a young boy.
“It made me remember how as a kid I had to walk that hill to get to every game. It really made me appreciate this journey I have been on and how it all started with the Supersonics.”
His memory led Welts right back to the moment at hand and the importance the Supersonics had on another young man who’s NBA career started in Seattle.
“Tonight is all about the city and the Sonics and while I’m sure all of us are excited for this night, (Kevin) Durant is beyond
excited for this!” Said Welts. A huge smile beaming across his face. “We have a lot of surprises for tonight but Durant is so excited he might go for 100 in the first quarter!”
Durant, who was drafted by the Supersonics and spent his rookie season with the franchise made it clear just how excited he was in the lead up to the game. He posted on social media four different player exclusive Nike shoes that he planned on wearing before, during and after the contest.
One day prior to tip off local media and businesses made the return of NBA basketball the talk of the Emerald City. Slick Watts and James Donaldson kicked things off with an appearance on King 5’s New Day Northwest where they discussed the impact of the Supersonics on the community as well having a candid discussion about the importance of mental health with particular regard to competitive athletes.
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The same evening saw Gary Payton make an appearance at Simply Seattle in Pioneer Square. The Glove, one of the most outspoken proponents of a return of the NBA to Seattle, spent the evening signing autographs and meeting fans who lined up around the block to meet the biggest star in Supersonics history.
By the time game day arrived the city was in a basketball frenzy. Having witnessed the Seattle Storm win their third championship less than a month prior, the city turned out in force to celebrate another momentous occasion in its storied basketball history.
As the @seattlestorm showed, basketball never left Seattle.
— espnW (@espnW) October 6, 2018