It has been eight long year since the Seattle SuperSonics left the Pacific Northwest.
Now, it seems Seattle is closer to getting the Sonics and the NBA back in Seattle.
Back in mid-October, the fine people at SB Nation’s Sonics Rising reported that expansion was “on the table” for the NBA with a new CBA widely reported to be in the works. After seeing the Kings rescued and new arenas being built in other cities, this has been Seattle’s best shot to reenter the league.
Within the week, news came out about Chris Hansen (the driving force behind bringing back the Sonics) buying even more land in SoDo.
So things were obviously looking positive for Seattle’s efforts to restore professional men’s basketball to the Emerald City.
There was also this nugget from a David Aldridge article about the subject of basketball in the Pacific Northwest’s largest city. The writer quoted “a very high ranking executive of one of the league’s 29 teams.” Said executive was quoted as saying “Seattle is a far better market than at least 10 NBA cities.”
So hey, we’ve got that going for us.
While there was obvious caution seeing as we’ve swung and miss with the league before, things were looking up.
Then this wonderful (at least for those who want to see the National Basketball Association back in the Pacific Northwest) news broke. King 5’s Chris Daniels reported that Hansen and company are offering to privately fund the new SoDo arena, as well as helping to fund the Lander Street overpass.
Additionally, Daniels’ reports also states that the offer is “conditioned on the city agreeing to vacate a one-block stretch of Occidental Avenue and the addition of several tax credits.”
The website behind Hansen’s efforts to build a new arena also announced the news.
What’s more, according to a tweet from Daniels, Seattle Council president Bruce Harrell calls the offer to privately fund the arena a “game changer.” You can see the entire tweet below.
It is extremely positive news for hoop fans in Seattle. While it by no means ensures that a team will come, it is a massive step forward in the grand scheme of things if Hansen is able to privately fund the arena and the overpass.
Here’s an interesting graphic from the good people at HoopsHype that shows the number of NBA players per state in terms of where they were born. In not-so-surprising fashion, the state of Washington is well represented with 13 NBA players. If you’re counting along at home, that’s the same as Oregon, Idaho, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming and Alaska combined. It’s also much more than the mere two from Oklahoma.
On this day back in 1979, the Seattle SuperSonics won the NBA Finals, defeating the Washington Bullets in five games after losing to the Bullets in the previous year’s finals. It represents one of three major sport titles in Seattle history, the others being the 1917 Stanley Cup (captured by the Seattle Metropolitans, the first American team to do so) and the Seahawks’ recent Super Bowl win. Dennis Johnson won Finals MVP.
Here’s hoping Seattle gets another NBA Championship.
While an arena in SoDo would be amazing and add to an already sporting atmosphere with Safeco Field and CenturyLink field, it can be tricky getting to the stadiums. It shouldn’t be, but coming from the south, it can be a bit of a hassle to get to Safeco from the highway. In other words, it shouldn’t take long, but it does. It also makes games more accessible geographically for fans south of Seattle.
2. Privately Funded
The arena project, spearheaded by the “Russell Group” will be privately funded. This means the public won’t be paying. This has been an issue in the past, not just in Seattle, but in other locals.
3. Hockey First?
Seattle is no doubt interested in the NHL making the Pacific Northwest a permanent home, but the NBA is likely a bigger draw given the city’s history with and yearning for professional basketball.
The hockey first would also solve the city’s Catch-22 situation with the NBA were the city (specifically the Seattle Arena project) needs a team to break ground on an arena, but the league wants an arena in place before it can send a team our way.
Having an NHL team first would also give the area time to get behind hockey in the same way the team threw their lot in with the Sounders.
With news breaking recently that a potential NBA/NHL arena to be built in Tukwila is in the works, their has been plenty of news on the subject of late. The arena group includes former Sonic legend Fred Brown as well as all-time NBA great Bill Russell among others.
Here’s the latest.
According to King 5 News, the arena has been “in works for months”.
Here are some shots of the land in Tukwila and what an arena might look like-
With the NBA playoffs underway, here’s a look at the NBA players with local connections playing on teams that made it to the postseason. Without an NBA team in Seattle, we tend to cheer on local players or players with connections to the state of Washington. It should also be pointed out that the team from Oklahoma missed the playoffs (insert synonym for the word “happy” here).
Austin Daye isn’t from Washington, but spent his college years at Gonzaga where he was a prolific shot blocker and led the Zags to NCAA tournament berths in each of his seasons in Spokane. Daye was the 15th overall pick in the 2009 NBA draft by the Detroit Pistons and now suits up for the Atlanta Hawks. He’s also played for the Memphis Grizzlies, Toronto Raptors and San Antonio Spurs. He won a ring with the Spurs in 2014.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Joe Harris
Joe Harris was born in Chelan, Washington and attended the University of Virginia where he played for four years under former Washington State head coach Tony Bennett. The former All-ACC performer has per-game averages of 2.7 points, .8 rebounds and .5 assists in his first season in Cleveland and in the league.
Chicago Bulls: Aaron Brooks
One of the NBA’s best “instant-offense” guards (which tends to be a common trend among Seattle-area guards), Brooks has had a fairly successful NBA career with the likes of the Houston Rockets, Denver Nuggets, Sacramento Kings, Chicago Bulls and Phoenix Suns. He currently plays for the Chicago Bulls where he has averaged 11.6 points a game off the bench this season in a similar role to the one fellow Washingtonian Nate Robinson played for the Bulls.
Toronto Raptors: Terrence Ross
Oregonian Terrence Ross played two years at the University of Washington before going pro and being selected with the eighth overall pick in the 2012 NBA draft. He’s started at least 61 games per season over the past two years for a successful Toronto club. He’s averaged 9.8 points and 2.8 rebounds a game this season and is a prolific dunker.
Washington Wizards: Martell Webster
After being drafted sixth overall by the Portland Trailblazers in the 2005 NBA draft, Webster has carved out a role as a bench scorer. After scoring 9.7 points a game for the Wizards last season, he’s down to 3.3 points a contest this year.
Boston Celtics: Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley and Kelly Olynyk
Starting with Tacoma natives Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley, Boston has some strong ties to the Pacific Northwest. Thomas has joined another Washingtonian, Jamal Crawford, among the best offensive options off the bench. At 26-years-old, he looks to be part of the Celtics core for the long haul and is already off to a promising start as his level of play propelled the Celtics from a lottery-bound team to the Eastern Conference’s seventh seed.
Joining him in the Boston backcourt is Bradley who is a lock-down defender and solid offensive threat. The former McDonald’s All American averaged 13.9 points a game to go along with 3.1 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.1 steals per contest.
Rounding out Boston’s group of players connected to the Pacific Northwest is Thomas’ partner in crime on Boston’s second unit, Kelly Olynyk. The former Gonzaga big man continues to improve in the NBA after averaging 8.7 points a game in his rookie season, he’s up to 10.3 points a contest this season. The center can step out to the three-point line and has a solid, low-post game.
The brother of Jrue Holiday, Justin played his collegiate ball at the University of Washington and has played for pro teams everywhere from Belgium to Hungary to Idaho. The wing has stuck on the Warriors’ roster where he’s scored 4.3 points a game and 1.2 rebounds per contest.
Houston Rockets: Jason Terry
The longtime Dallas Maverick is now suiting up for another Dallas team where he’s averaged 7.0 points a game to go along with 1.9 assists and 1.6 rebounds. The Jet has had a ridiculously productive NBA career with long stops in Atlanta and Dallas preceding shorter stars in Boston and Brooklyn. He won a ring with Dallas in 2010/2011.
Los Angeles Clippers: Jamal Crawford, Spencer Hawes, C.J. Wilcox
It’s probably fitting that the Steve Ballmer-owned Clippers have a large contingent of players with connections to the state of Washington.
Similar to Terry, Crawford has had a long and extremely productive career. He’s averaged 15.6 points a game throughout his career, which isn’t far from his 15.8 points a contest this season. He dropped 18.6 points a game last season and is widely regarded as one of, if not of if not the best sixth men in the league.
Another Seattle product, Spencer Hawes is a versatile big man who has found success as both a scorer and rebounder. He’s had a down season this year with a stat line that includes 5.8 points and 3.5 rebounds per game, but is still a productive and talented player. The former Husky has range on his jumper and is a solid source of offense from the center position.
Another former UW player suiting up for the Clippers is C.J. Wilcox, the developing wing player only got into 21 games on a stacked Clippers team, averaging 2.0 points a game.
Memphis Grizzlies: Jeff Green
One of the last former Sonics in the league, Jeff Green played his rookie season in Seattle, averaging 10.5 points and 4.7 rebounds per game.
San Antonio Spurs: Aron Baynes
Former Washington State Cougar Aron Baynes played in numerous countries before landing with the Spurs. He made stops in Lithuania, Germany, Greece and Slovenia before joining Gregg Popovich’s team. The center had his best season to date this year with 6.6 points and 4.5 rebounds per contest.
New Orleans Pelicans: Quincy Pondexter
Former Washington Husky Quincy Pondexter started his career with the New Orleans Hornets in 2010/2011 before spending four seasons in Memphis with the Grizzlies. He’s back in New Orleans with the Pelicans and averaged a career-high 7.2 points per game this season.