Sonics fans: Use your anger constructively
While expressing its anger toward Nate Robinson, Seattle was once again looking at Oklahoma City, treating it as a peer inadvertently and yelling for the world to see our pain. It's pathetic, really. And it should be beneath Seattle.
Seattle Times staff columnist
Nate Robinson doesn't love Seattle enough, I suppose. He only has tattoos of the city's skyline and area code on his body. He only brags about his hometown every day. He only cheers like a member of the Dawg Pack when he watches a University of Washington basketball game.
Never mind the loyalty shown in his actions, though. Robinson is the most disloyal Tweeter ever.
Yeah, it's as ridiculous as it sounds.
During last week's Twitter controversy — in which Robinson wrote that the fans of his current team, the Sonics-napping Oklahoma City Thunder, "are the best on the planet" — Seattle's heartache turned absurd. That old inferiority complex resurfaced, and suddenly a 140-character, company-line comment meant more than a lifetime of deep affinity. Even worse, while expressing its anger toward a home-bred hoops luminary, Seattle was once again looking at Oklahoma City, treating it as a peer inadvertently and yelling for the world to see our pain and to please, please, please tell us that we're better than the small market that took the NBA away from here.
It's pathetic, really. And it should be beneath Seattle.
It's not surprising that a crew of fans barked at Robinson for his tone-deaf remark. Fans are grieving, and anger is a part of that process. Most of the time, they shouldn't have to apologize or get over it, either. But the misdirected and pointless vilification of harmless people who are making the best of this situation needs to stop.
You know a misunderstanding has turned childish when someone's mama is forced to react. That's what happened last Thursday when Renee Busch, Robinson's mother, called a local radio station to defend her son.
"There's nothing wrong with what he said, at all," Busch said on 710 ESPN Seattle, explaining that Robinson has said similar things about every fan base he has represented.
Robinson is a former Washington and Rainier Beach High School star. He wears that pride every day, and we're not just talking about his ink. He's as 206 as it gets. But in this case, Robinson was just an excuse to start a fight.
It's an awful month to be a local sports fan because, in every other major city, the NBA playoffs are front and center, and the team that was a 41-year fixture in town has morphed into the Thunder and become a threat to win the championship.
Seeing Oklahoma City thrive with this team is like losing your beautiful, longtime girlfriend to an ugly dude. Every time we see the woman now, she looks better and better. And we think, "She's with that guy?"
Our friends have told us again and again, "Yeah, man, this is wrong. She should be with you. You're way better for her." But we continue to seek affirmation of this, and our friends are growing tired of telling us what we already should know. Nevertheless, we persist with our disbelief and our need to be told nice things. Meanwhile, we're not doing anything to better ourselves to attract another lady.
Where's our pride? Where's our arrogance? Where's our unbreakable belief in ourselves and our possibilities?
If you don't want to listen to me, listen to beloved former Sonics play-by-play announcer Kevin Calabro. His words are even stronger.
"Seattle, get over yourself," he said on the radio last week. "You don't have the NBA anymore. Quit whining, go out, be productive and seek an NBA team if that's what you want. All this whining and moaning and handwringing about what happened three years ago isn't going to make a world of difference. If you want to get something done, be the progressive city that you claim to be and quit whining about the past."
Some fans are so busy fending off perceived slights that they're ignoring the real threats. For all the speculation about Seattle acquiring a new NBA team, it won't happen soon because the core issue remains: There is no arena solution, and there is no significant outcry to solve that problem.
In addition, local and state politicians have neither the imagination nor the initiative to make something happen. The newest character in that motley crew, Mayor Mike McGinn, isn't only Nickels-esque in his approach to a KeyArena solution; he's also lobbying to keep Bellevue from having the political clout to build an arena. That should be far more upsetting than Robinson's tweet.
The most prominent villains of the Sonics heist — Howard Schultz, Clay Bennett and David Stern — shield themselves from Seattle's rage, so we're often left to scream at others. It's understandable. It's going to take that kind of passion to drown out the dissenters and bring the NBA back to town. But passion without focus is fruitless.
This fight isn't about making sure that every homegrown basketball star hates Oklahoma City in perpetuity. It was inevitable that a Seattle star would play for the Thunder, and considering that they're one of the best young teams in the league, it was inevitable that Robinson, who was traded to the Thunder at midseason, would enjoy playing there. The NBA is in its honeymoon phase in OKC. The team is winning, the fans are outstanding, and it's going to remain that way for a while.
Bennett and his Oklahoma Raiders hijacked the Sonics, but, really, they're not our problem anymore. When we make them our problem, our past clogs our future.
Let's channel that anger to find a solution. Let's force McGinn and Gov. Christine Gregoire to take action. Let's ignore OKC, stop making bitter mental tallies of who supports the Thunder and start being fueled by the pride of what Seattle is and can be.
The rivalry with Oklahoma City is lame. OKC won the NBA fight, but it'll never be Seattle. It makes no sense to compete with a lesser city when we have a greater challenger to battle.
Jerry Brewer: 206-464-2277 or firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: @Jerry_Brewer
About Jerry Brewer
Jerry Brewer offers a unique perspective on the world of sports.
email@example.com | 206-464-2277
Seattle Times transportation reporter Mike Lindblom describes some of the factors that may have led to the collapse of the I-5 bridge over the Skagit River in Mount Vernon on Thursday, May 23.