BOSTON — Avery Bradley was 17 years old when the SuperSonics moved away. The Tacoma, Wash., native recalled the beloved franchise’s relocation being “hard,” because the Seattle fanbase maintained its dedication even after the organization had fallen into disrepair on and off the court.
Jason Terry, who was born and raised in Seattle, had a blunter word to describe the tenor of the city when its NBA team left in 2008.
“Destroyed,” Terry said.
If Seattle was destroyed, basketball-wise, it could be close to being rebuilt. The Kings are reportedly close to being sold to a Seattle ownership group led by hedge fund manager Chris Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, and an arena deal is already in place pending the group’s ability to lure a team to the city. As details of the potential sale were still leaking out Wednesday, the prospect of the NBA returning to their home state heartened the Celtics’ Washington natives.
“My heart was in Seattle, and I’ve always dreamed that one day they’d get a team back there,” Terry said. “It’s a real good day, not just for everybody from Seattle but for the NBA. That’s a great city, a great sports town.”
Whereas Terry and Bradley were all smiles, a few Celtics sympathized with the other side. Jeff Green played one season in Seattle before the franchise relocated to Oklahoma City, and he said no longer having a team named the “Sacramento Kings” would be odd. Doc Rivers always preferred Seattle to Sacramento as a road destination, yet he still felt for the fans and Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson, a former NBA point guard who has worked tirelessly to keep the team from moving.
Meanwhile, Johnson did not sound like he was giving up hope. In a news conference Wednesday, Johnson said he has talked with local investors to make a competing bid for the team. That would need to be some bid, though. Reports indicate the Hansen-Ballmer group has put up $500 million, a record amount that would be far more than the Kings franchise is worth.
“I miss going to Seattle,” Rivers said. “It’s one of my favorite cities — having said that, you don’t want another city to lose a team. That’s tough. Good for one, bad for the other. They got their team taken away. Now they get one, but they’re taking it away from someone else. I feel happy for the people of Seattle, but it’s too bad for Sacramento and Kevin Johnson.”
That was a nice sentiment by Rivers, but Bradley and Terry could not even fake any sympathy for Sacramento. Terry admitted he would not miss trips to the California capital, while Bradley revealed the real reason he would relish playing against a Seattle team — preferably one named the “Sonics” once again.
“It’s going to be nice to go back there and have the Celtics beat up on the Sonics,” Bradley said.
Judging by the current state of the Kings — last month’s 118-96 loss by the Celtics at Sleep Train Arena notwithstanding — that would most likely be true. Home cooking and an easy victory could soon be coming Bradley’s way.