Seattle Mariners Honor SuperSonics Before Game

Years later, the scar remains. The Seattle SuperSonics weren’t supposed to lose their franchise, their city. Not with all the great tradition, great players and great fans. Last night, Seattle’s baseball team—the Mariners—honored the history of the SuperSonics and some of its most influential figures before their game against Tampa Bay. Via The Washington Post: “They gathered many of the Sonics’ greatest names, including Hall of Famer Lenny Wilkens, George Karl, Gary Payton, Shawn Kemp, Tom Chambers, Hersey Hawkins, Slick Watts, Dale Ellis, Jack Sikma, Spencer Haywood, Fred Brown, Gus Williams, Nate McMillan, Michael Cage and James Donaldson. The Sonics played in Seattle for 41 years before owner Clay Bennett, who purchased the team in 2006, moved them to his hometown of Oklahoma City a year later, leaving the 14th-largest TV market for the 45th. ‘We didn’t deserve to lose a team. We lost a team,’ said former Sonics forward Detlef Schrempf, originally from Germany but who played his high school and college ball in Washington. ‘We’re a major city in the U.S. We should have a franchise. You shouldn’t lose it, not the way we did.’ The former Sonics appreciated the gesture by the Mariners. ‘Athletes recognize one another. It’s nice the Mariners did this,’ said Wilkens, who led the team to the city’s only championship, the 1979 NBA title. ‘I’m a Mariners fan, I’m a baseball fan. I grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y. with the Dodgers. So I go way back to Jackie Robinson. But I’ve lived here 41 years. I’ve watched (basketball) grow. They’ve always had pretty good basketball here, Seattle U. Washington, Gonzaga, Washington State. Then things picked up because kids were seeing Sonics players and were motivated to stay with it.’ … ‘You have pride that you have a team, but when all of that went down it broke my heart,’ said Hawkins, who was part of the team that played the Bulls in the 1996 NBA finals. ‘It was disheartening in the fact that the fans were left out in the cold. Hopefully, we’ll get a team back because this city definitely deserves a team, with all tradition and history the Sonics have.'”