Seattle (and its stars) impress at arena rally

Jun 14, 2012, 9:59 PM | Updated: Jun 15, 2012, 9:09 am

By Tom Wassell

I’m impressed. Very impressed.

I’ve mentioned on the air that I am not from around here. Having spent just over a year in this fair city, I’ve tried incredibly hard to imagine what it must have been like to have a beloved team (and cultural beacon) suddenly airlifted to another town. Watching the Thunder in the Finals, I now understand that it can’t be all that dissimilar from the experience of a guy who has his still-beating heart ripped right out of his chest and held in front of him by his ex-girlfriend.

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Sonics legends Gary Payton and Detlef Schrempf, posing with fan Lorin “Big Lo” Sandretzky, were among the Seattle icons at Thursday’s rally. (AP)

Nevertheless, the community is bravely pressing on.

What I witnessed on Thursday at Occidental Park was nothing short of extraordinary. A sea of green, yellow and white overwhelmed the area in a show of community that, quite frankly, I felt privileged to be a part of.

It’s appropriate, though, that in the midst of this we give a certain group of folks their due. These are guys like Shawn Kemp, Gary Payton, Duff McKagan and Kevin Calabro. While watching the amazing job that they did as entertainers/speakers at this event, I noticed something that seemed unique to this area. These larger-than-life personalities belong to Seattle — not the other way around.

In New York, the city belongs to Jeter. In Indianapolis, the city belonged to Peyton. In Boston, the city belongs to Brady. You get the idea. But here in Seattle, there is a genuine sense that the city’s superstars are almost as excited to walk among us as we are to be with them.

I can’t overstate how rare this is.

I live only five blocks from the KeyArena. When I hear stories told about the old days here, they’re spoken about with such reverence that I can almost picture Kemp and Payton leaving the then-Seattle Center Coliseum and simply hanging out with the locals. They’re connected even years after the fact. Whether or not this was literally the case, I have no idea. But what went on here seems like a far cry from a Laker leaving the Staples Center in a limo that’s headed toward the Hollywood Hills — well removed from the fans that actually make the team what it is.

Can the old days be recreated at some point? Probably. But if everything stays on course, at some point, we who are here now will fondly be referring to this era as the old days. #SonicsRally2012.

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Seattle (and its stars) impress at arena rally