I’m trying to be mature about this, which admittedly is not my default reaction to anything.
I’m trying to talk myself into believing that the NBA has thrown us a bone here in Seattle, and that the proposed preseason NBA game at KeyArena is a nod to the eventual return of our city’s first pro sports franchise.
That’s the hopeful perspective, and I’m currently trying to convince myself that it’s the appropriate way to see an Oct. 6 preseason game between the Sacramento Kings and the Golden State Warriors.
Because my initial reaction was that the NBA was at best utterly tone deaf and at worst adding one more insult to what is now more than a decade’s worth of low blows and dirty pool when it comes to Seattle and its Supersonics.
Start with the report that it was the Kings who were going to play here. The Kings, aka the franchise that a Seattle investment group bought back in 2012. Or at least the group tried to buy the Kings, only to have the NBA step in and do exactly what it should have done in Seattle four years prior, which was act to keep the team in place.
That was the salt.
Then came the fact it would be the Warriors who were facing the Kings. The Warriors are not just the league’s biggest draw but feature Kevin Durant, who just so happened to play his rookie season in Seattle before the franchise was pulled up by the roots and planted in Oklahoma.
That was the wound.
And after placing the salt in the wound, let’s douse the whole thing in rubbing alcohol by playing that meaningless game in KeyArena, the very venue the NBA deemed so utterly unsuitable for one of its teams that it forced the amputation of a franchise with 40 years of history.
The preseason game is insulting, frankly. Not just because it’s the Kings, and certainly not because of Durant, who is remembered affectionately in Seattle, even embraced. It’s insulting because it felt like a crumb being dropped from the league’s table to a city that had a proud, 40-year history in the league before being absolutely sold out first by Howard Schultz, then by the NBA and finally by the city government that reached a settlement instead of forcing a judge to decide.
But rehashing the injustice of it all isn’t going to bring the NBA back to town.
The building that’s going to replace the KeyArena might, though, and that’s not just a possibility at this point. It’s an actual bona fide project with deposits being taken for season tickets to an honest-to-goodness NHL team.
Viewed in that light, an NBA preseason game could be a positively encouraging sign for that league’s eventual return. It wasn’t anything approaching an apology. It wasn’t even an acknowledgment of having given Seattle the business end of the stick back in 2008.
But it is something. A sign that the NBA sees what is happening here and at least a conversation-starter for the future.
There’s just one catch, though. Of course there is. This is the NBA we’re talking about.
The catch is that the Oak View Group, which is spearheading the KeyArena renovation, is not involved in the planning of the preseason game. At all. And maybe that’s nothing more than the proper procedures. The city, after all, is in charge of KeyArena.
But if this preseason game is an effort by the NBA to wedge its foot into the planning process for the new arena, then I’m not going to try and be mature about it. I’m not going to take the hopeful perspective or offer anyone the benefit of the doubt.
If the NBA is now trying to inject itself into a process that it so forcefully quit a decade ago, then this proposed preseason game isn’t just as insulting as it appears. It’s worse.
And if that’s the case, let’s name the prospective NHL team the Seattle Supersonics and move on.