The crew of Sonicsgate routinely shows up at NBA events in an effort to keep the Sonics memory alive, but also to spread a message. Sure, the ultimate goal is to bring a team back to Seattle, but Sonicsgate is also a blueprint for others, showing them just how quickly a team can be snatched away and how to fight it. While Seattle fans want a team, the process by which one is brought back to the city may lead to accusations of hypocrisy.
Is Sonicsgate all just a front to undermine teams facing relocation? Is the crew showing up not to support other teams fighting back against the NBA, but to lure those teams to Seattle? Not quite. In fact, the support is real and Seattle fans are sympathetic to the causes of others.
"No team is safe. That's why we keep showing up. It's a reminder no team if safe. If you have a team as successful as the Sonics move, it can happen to anyone," Sonicsgate producer Jason Reid said when asked about the climate in the NBA. "Sacramento fans never thought it was possible. It's conflicting, but were here to help our fellow sports fans. The NBA pits fans against each other. You're not going to pit us against Sacramento"
But Reid was realistic when asked about how Seattle would go about securing another NBA team. The league doesn't plan to expand, leaving only one option on the table: Relocation.
"As much as we want to get an NBA team in the city, we know for a fact if we get a team it'll be another city," he said. "The NBA won't expand. We know, and we're realistic about the situation."
The way the Sonics were handled left a bad taste in the collective mouth of the Seattle sports fan, and it's something Sonicsgate is hoping to avoid while fighting to bring the NBA back. I've struggled with this issue before and Reid does, as well, but he also preaches transparency. If a local buyer rescues an NBA team in trouble, being clear about their intentions along the way would be key.
"It's a conflicting issue. That's why we ended Sonicsgate with Sherman Alexi saying to get a team we're going to have to steal a team," Reid said before turning his attention to the process. "The transparency is critical. If [Steve] Ballmer buys a team, it'll be transparent. It would be we're buying the team and moving them to Seattle."
A plan to bring the Sonics back to Seattle won't get out of the starting gate without an arena. It's well-known the NBA uses arenas as part of its business model, and the facility that houses the team must be a sustainable source of income. For Seattle, it's an "if you build it, they will come" manta.
"It comes down to the arena. Everything comes down to the arena. WIthout an arena, Seattle won't get a team," Reid said before looking to the future. "I think [Steve] Ballmer is just sitting back waiting for someone comes up with a plan."
And the fight won't end until a team is back in Seattle, no matter how long it takes.
"The popular perspective is "give it up. It's been three years." We will not go away and stop showing up until the wrongs have been righted by giving us a team back. We're going to be the misquoto in your ear."