[This is not an April Fool's joke.]
In some ways, this is a really difficult post to write. In other ways, it's not.
When the NBA approved a deal to move the Seattle SuperSonics to Oklahoma City, we were unanimously appalled. In my position at FanHouse (R.I.P.), I wrote a number of posts and columns ripping Clay Bennett and David Stern; here's one example. (Most of the links will have been broken by now. Such is the fleeting nature of the web.)
Here at Sactown Royalty, we asked the Maloofs to vote against the relocation of the Sonics. (They voted for it.) We posted and discussed Sonicsgate. I don't think you could find more than one or two commenters who felt like the NBA did the right thing in 2008. Because the NBA did not do the right thing. The NBA and Clay Bennett screwed Seattle. While the politicians didn't help, it was Bennett, Stern and the system that Stern created who are to blame. Period. OK, one more: Howard Schultz, the Starbucks CEO and the guy who sold the Sonics to Bennett. What a damn fool if he thought Bennett would keep the Sonics there. And if he didn't, he sold out Seattle, plain and simple.
Because of all those reasons, I feel Seattle deserves an NBA team. And this is where things get complicated.
Most Seattle fans, as far as I can tell, feel by and large that because grave injustice was done to them -- it was -- that the fact that grave injustice will be done to Sacramento is another chapter in the NBA's heartless mission of subsidized arenas in every city. Most Sacramento fans, as far as I can tell, would prefer the grave injustices to end. But at the core, we're all fueled by our personal interests. Seattle wants and deserves pro basketball. Sacramento wants and deserves pro basketball. There's only one team up for grabs. Therein lies the problem.
I tend to think that if I were based in Seattle, grew up in Seattle, wore Shawn Kemp jerseys instead of Mitch Richmond jerseys, bled green and gold instead of purple and black, chanted Beat L.A. instead of Beat L.A. (hey, something in common!) -- that I'd be posting on Sonics Rising and hoping and praying and wishing and hoping that my city would get basketball back. And I tend to think that if Brian Robinson were based in Sacramento, grew up in Sacramento, wore Chris Webber jerseys instead of Gary Payton jerseys, prayed at the altar of Adelman instead of Karl -- he'd be hoping and praying and wishing and hoping that the Kings would stay. We're all defined by our personal interests here. We're all right, we're alright. We're the same damn folks in different situations.
Barring a miracle, one group of us will be happy this week and one group will not. For us in and of Sacramento, we'll commiserate or celebrate together here at Sactown Royalty. We all know and love the wonderful community features the SB Nation platform, Chorus, offers. The best commenting system in publishing. FanPosts and FanShots. Design features. Those features and amazing leadership by section214, Aykis16 and Greg over the years have helped build the strongest Kings online community ever. We know each other, we love and/or hate each other and we know that when something happens we'll have folks to talk about it with.
The other side deserves that, too. Seattle will be back in the NBA at some point, maybe next season, maybe in three years, maybe in five years. But Seattle will be back -- Chris Hansen is, as Bennett might have said, a "man possessed." Seattle deserves basketball, and Seattle fans deserve a great place to build their community. With that, I'd like to welcome Sonics Rising to SB Nation.
I know, I know. SR and StR haven't exactly been simpatico over the last couple months. People there have ripped Sacramento's effort. People here have ripped Seattle's conscience. It's gotten heated enough that both sites have instituted guidelines about quoting from the other site. And I think on our side at least those guidelines will remain in place. (The guideline: don't quote or discuss SR comments in threads here. This thread, however, will be a safe zone.)
I want to address a few questions I anticipate.
1. This is NOT an endorsement of Seattle over Sacramento by SB Nation. It's really, really not. I asked Seth Pollack, NBA league manager for SB Nation, to put together a little something about the decision (which I also participated in throughout the process):
Sacramento fans, we understand our decision to launch Sonics Rising might be received with displeasure in your community. First, let me say that both the timing and decision to launch the site on the SB Nation network is not in any way an endorsement of a potential Kings move. Like you, we don't know what will happen when the NBA owners review both bids.
If the league's owners should decide to rip your team from your hands, our sympathies and support will be with you. Conversely, should the NBA decide to keep the Kings in Sacramento, we will extend our heartfelt sympathies to the fans in Seattle who want the same thing you do...an NBA team.
This situation was not caused by the fans of either great city but it has progressed to the point where one fan base is going to be extremely angry while the other rejoices. There's no avoiding that and SB Nation is not taking sides. Our job is to support all fans.
This site has served as the primary rallying point for Kings fans and we're proud of you, Tom and the rest of the Sactown Royalty staff for the role you've played in helping organize support for your team. We are also proud as a company to have played a part in providing the forum for you to gather and share information about the situation.
With things coming to a conclusion soon, we feel the time has come for SB Nation to provide that same forum and support for the fans in Seattle regardless of the outcome.
Sonics Rising has a long and proud history of their own. They covered the Sonics since 2005. They fought tooth and nail to keep their team from leaving and they've been at the center of the fight to bring the NBA back to Seattle. We are confident that someday they will be successful in bringing a team home. Whether that's your team, an expansion team, or some other, we feel like we should be there for them throughout the process.
Seriously, I can't emphasize enough how understanding Seth has been throughout the process. Back in January, I was the one, in fact, who indicated to Seth and SB Nation president Tyler Bleszinski that it might be time to consider a Seattle blog because of the city's momentum in getting an NBA team. Seth has handled a sensitive situation flawlessly.
2. Don't read into the timing. When the company reached an agreement with Sonics Rising, the timeline of the NBA's decision was fairly vague. We had no idea April 3 would be a crucial date. There was no intent to time the launch during a critical week, just an intent to launch it ASAP after the agreement. It takes time to build the site, the logo, transfer content and train editors. That said, consideration was not given to delaying the launch until after April 3, because that would be silly. Regardless of what happens, Sonics Rising has a place here and obviously lots of discussion, even without a team.
3. Brian Robinson, SR's lead editor, is a good dude. We have argued a lot lately. He's written things I think are unfair about KJ, some of the people working on Sacramento's behalf (like Dave) and our process. I've written things he thinks are equally unfair. We disagree. But he's a good dude and has worked impossibly hard for his city. That's to be commended.
4. For the time being, because we all have trouble controlling ourselves (myself included), we're not allowing crosstalk except in designated areas. That means you should not go over and comment on SR except in designated threads (if there are designated threads). And it means SR commenters are not really welcome here except in designated threads (if there are designated threads). Moderators will be on the watch. If you see a violation of this guideline, flag it and move on. Don't respond. When you respond, you validate and fuel. Don't do that. Flag and move on. Do I need to get Herm Edwards to repeat this? Close your eyes and imagine Herm Edwards telling you to "flag and move on" over and over. There you go.
5. No matter what happens this week, this month and whenever, Sactown Royalty is here to stay. SB Nation has committed to me that StR will remain open as long as we want it to. We want to keep it open permanently, even if the Kings move. It'll be weird, but hey, that's not new for this site.
I welcome your feedback on this subject in this thread. I won't likely be able to respond until Tuesday, but I welcome it all the same. Seth may also be by to answer any questions.