Of all the people truly hoping the League would vote to send an NBA franchise to Seattle this past spring, few were as deeply invested—in all senses of the word—as Shawn Kemp. Of course, the big man is a SuperSonics legend who’d naturally like his personal basketball history to live on and be celebrated with an active squad. But Kemp also owns bar/restaurant Oskar’s Kitchen, a small neighborhood joint located just a few blocks from Key Arena, where the Sonics played through the majority of the ’90s and were set to spend a couple of seasons before their new home was to be built in downtown Seattle. Business would’ve benefitted, to say the least.
And yet, despite the failed attempt, Kemp hasn’t given up hope. We spoke with the six-time All-Star, who averaged 14.6 points and 8.4 rebounds per game over the course of his 14-season career, for a feature in the upcoming issue of KICKS—which we’ll be able to tell you all about shortly—and he made clear he believes the city will be given a franchise soon enough. “I’m not going anywhere,” Kemp said. “We got a little bit of a delay with the votes that came back from the NBA, and we understood why. We understood Mr. Stern is going out of the office and he didn’t want to take the chance with anything negative happening with another NBA team, but we’re pretty confident here in Seattle that within the next two to three years we’re gonna have some basketball back this way.”
As far as Oskar’s goes, Kemp sounds confident it’ll persevere: “[The restaurant is] gonna survive,” he said. “I work with a good, talented group of people. The restaurant is gonna be in good shape. We still get a lot of people there on a daily basis. It takes a little more work, just to be creative [to bring patrons in], but I think the restaurant will be fine. I think the restaurant will stay strong and we’ll keep doing positive things with it.”