So this was inevitable. After the Oklahoma City Arena crowd chanted for Nate Robinson and delivered what Daily Thunder’s Royce Young declared on Twitter was the “biggest cheer of the night” for the diminutive Seattlite, Robinson himself took to the Internet to praise Thunder fans.
Robinson’s tweet has created a bit of a stir this morning. SBN Seattle has a story up about it, and ESPN Seattle’s Matt Pitman — a good friend — is quoted via Twitter as the media member most upset about Robinson’s comment, which Robinson later clarified by saying, “#206 will always be #1 in my heart bro.”
It should be noted that most people don’t think this is a big deal — one of my former Sonics coworkers emailed me as much this morning, unsolicited — but it seemed like an obvious outcome when Robinson was traded to Oklahoma City. Either he was bound to offend the Thunder fans (who earned the praise last night) or his hometown, as Seth Kolloen wrote at the deadline.
More notably, I think the reaction in some quarters to Robinson’s tweet reflects an issue worth discussing. With Oklahoma City making a deep playoff run, it’s been impossible for Seattle fans to avoid the team. My brother, who until April had not seen a Thunder game since the move, is suddenly watching (and rooting for the Grizzlies). TNT is running graphics about the last time Oklahoma City advanced so far, which invariably came thousands of miles to the west with different colors and a different nickname.
This is as painful for me as anyone. It’s difficult to think about how KeyArena would be equally raucous in support of a talented, exciting and hard-working team with bright young stars. Ultimately, though, it’s important for Seattlites to remember what we’re upset about here, and it’s not the presence of the Oklahoma City Thunder, it’s the absence of the Seattle SuperSonics. Despite the reminders, with each passing day the Thunder’s ties to Seattle diminish. (Except, granted, when they trade for guys like Robinson.) What bothers us fundamentally boils to not having a team here, and it’s easy to confuse the symbols of that void (not only the Thunder, but also villains like Howard Schultz, Clay Bennett and local politicians) with the void itself.
I understand not everyone can make peace with the issue as quickly as I have. Everybody grieves in their own way. What we all have to realize, at some point, is that the most important thing is working to get a new team in Seattle and restoring NBA basketball to its rightful place in our city’s consciousness. To the extent that continuing to nurse a rivalry with the Thunder distracts from that end goal, we’re only hurting ourselves.
- Kevin PeltonMay122011
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