There are 17,072 seats in Key Arena; 17,072 chances to come out, show support and give back to Seattle in a big way on July 23. For the first time since the Seattle Sonics were swept away to Oklahoma City, the NBA will be back in the city, if only for a one-night show. The game presents Seattle with an opportunity, and a greater cause than basketball to support. And it's an opportunity none of us should let pass.
The Hoops 206 Charity Basketball Game gives us a chance to remind the NBA what it's missing. Seattle has passion for basketball -- always has, always will. The area is a hotbed for talent, and many of the players who cut their teeth growing up in Seattle will be on display when the city takes on the league for a good cause in July. And the fans here in the Northwest are second-to-none in my own biased opinion.
But we're forgotten souls, hidden in a professional black hole created when the Sonics vanished in 2008. Sure we make noise, wear the green and gold, and continue to further the discussion in hopes of someday bringing a team back. But in the eyes of the NBA, there's Portland and an empty pit to its north. And the longer the city stays team-less, the further we drift from the front of the NBA's mind.
Seattle has been given an opportunity for the first time since the Sonics left. While a charity game is just an exhibition, it's a chance for the city to come out, watch some of its own talent and send a message -- to the NBA and to the politicians in Seattle, King County and Olympia. Show them we're still hungry for professional basketball. Remind them what it feels like to have a packed arena with a raucous crowd decked-out in green and gold.
But most of all, more than lobbying for a team or sending a message, the game is an opportunity to support an excellent cause. July 23 is about more than just basketball, the NBA and the stars of the past and future putting on a show for the home crowd. It's about the kids, and supporting the youth that may one day shape our city or, perhaps, play on basketball's biggest stage.
Proceeds from the game benefit the A Plus Youth Program and Boys and Girls Club of Seattle. For youth growing up in Seattle, programs such as A Plus are vital. It gives them an outlet; a safe place to grow, learn and build a foundation for life-long success. While the program does have a basketball slant, it's about instilling values, discipline and mentorship so at-risk youth can be in the best possible position to succeed, to stay out of trouble and to harness their own potential.
Tell a friend, tell a family member, tell a neighbor. Grab everyone you can, dress in your finest green and gold, and show up to Key Arena on July 23 ready to make noise. Cheer on your hometown heroes, bring a positive vibe and, for one night, take a trip down memory lane with legends of the past.
We've talked the talk, fought for the Sonics and lobbied for a new team. Seattle has show passion, and the passion continues to run deep three years after the NBA left the city. But now it's time to put our money where our mouth is and support the youth programs that will help shape the leaders of the future. And it's time to send a message, with our voices and our wallets.
Tickets for the Hoops 206 Charity Basketball Game are on sale now at Ticketmaster. For more on A Plus Youth Program, head over to its website. For more on the game, check out its website and Facebook page. Be sure to follow H206GAME on Twitter for the latest updates, including player commitments and scheduling details.