Kendrick Perkins wants to wear the number he's accustomed to dawning with the Oklahoma City Thunder after coming over in a trade deadline deal with the Boston Celtics. But there's a problem in Oklahoma City and it can all be traced back to our Seattle Sonics. You see, the Thunder still honor the jerseys retired when the team was the Sonics, and that includes Jack Sikma's No. 43. Perkins wants to wear Sikma's number but can't, setting off a lively debate in the Oklahoma City papers.
One columnist, Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman, made an argument for the Thunder giving Seattle its retired numbers back. The honors, he says, belong to Seattle and have no ties to the current Thunder franchise.
Jack Sikma's legacy belongs to Seattle, not Oklahoma City. Fans in OKC don't have Sikma memories; via television, we watched him play for those great old Sonic teams. But now he's no more a part of this franchise's fabric than is Truck Robinson or Dave Cowens.
That's fine, but he proceeds to shoot holes in his own argument in the same column, just a few paragraphs later.
Records, individual and team, are different. They are necessary for research and statistical comparisons. That's not the same thing as the retired numbers
Look, you can't have it both ways. Either get rid of everything and give it back to Seattle to start fresh, or keep it all. There's no middle ground here. There's no difference between the records, many of which were set by those whose jerseys hung in the rafters at Key Arena, and the retired numbers themselves.
Those numbers, championship banners, division titles and records are all part of Seattle and the tradition that made the Sonics our own. But now, Seattle has nowhere to hang the banners and properly honor those that created a lasting legacy with the Sonics.
Penning a column whining about Sikma's number being retired, sparked because Oklahoma City's new toy, Kendrick Perkins, wants to wear it is a stab at Seattle and its Sonics. It's twisting the knife in further, reminding us that Oklahoma City has our team, but doesn't care at all about its past -- the elements that made the franchise what it was in the first place.
It may not seem like a big deal, but for those of us that cherish the legacy of those great Sonics, it matters. Because like it or not, the history of the Thunder, no matter how much re-branding the team does to shake it, resides in Seattle. This isn't an expansion franchise, it's one with a rich history rooted in the Northwest, and those great players who made up the history with years of dedicated service to the team and city.
Don't want the numbers, records and statistics? Fine. Give them back. And while you're at it, how about giving the franchise back, too.