Sonics fans hope to change minds, outcome
Did you hear that, David Stern? Those "Save Our Sonics" chants that originated at the corner of Seventh Avenue and Stewart Street and rippled...
Seattle Times staff reporter
Did you hear that, David Stern?
Those "Save Our Sonics" chants that originated at the corner of Seventh Avenue and Stewart Street and rippled across the city were intended to influence the NBA commissioner and a few others.
Brian Robinson, co-founder of the group with the same name, hopes the echoes from Monday's midafternoon rally on the federal courthouse steps reverberate across the country and reach Stern, who is in Boston for the NBA Finals.
Robinson hopes the strong showing might even sway U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman, who began hearing testimony Monday in Seattle's lawsuit against the Sonics.
"We're hoping that Stern and [Sonics owner Clay] Bennett will re-evaluate and look for a situation that provides long-term basketball in Seattle," Robinson said. "We're hoping that politicians take note of what happened today and realize that this is a problem they can solve, and take care of business in Olympia.
"You can't argue with the crowd. It was a huge turnout, and it shows that people really care."
Robinson had hoped 500 would attend. Police estimated the crowd at somewhere between 800 and 2,000.
Sacramento Kings center Spencer Hawes, the former Seattle Prep and Washington Huskies star, stood out in a vintage No. 20 Gary Payton jersey.
Lorin "Big Lo" Sandretzky, the self-proclaimed biggest sports fan in Seattle, led the "Save our Sonics" cheers. KJR talk-show host David Mahler emceed, as fans waited for headliners Payton and Xavier McDaniel.
When the former Sonics arrived and climbed atop a makeshift stage, the noise was deafening.
"As long as you're here, I'm here," Payton told the cheering crowd.
McDaniel, who builds homes in South Carolina, said he didn't hesitate to accept the chance to speak at the rally.
"The only way I wouldn't have made it is if the plane would have crashed," McDaniel said. "I hear some athletes didn't want to come because they're looking for NBA jobs, but if you believe in something, you've got to stand up for it. I'm with the fans. I believe in the fans.
"Fred Brown, Jack Sikma, John [Johnson] and Slick [Watts], these guys that I know very, very well, I'm surprised they weren't here."
Payton acknowledged that they might face repercussions from the league for appearing at the rally. The NBA has approved owner Bennett's request to move the Sonics to Oklahoma City.
"I don't think about that because we're supporting the team that we've been with for a number of years," he said. "I didn't say anything bad about David Stern, about the franchise or about anyone.
"The bottom line is I want my team to stay here because this is the team that drafted me. This is where I grew up. This is where my home is. I played basketball here. I come back here. My jersey will be raised here."
Keith Steinke, a Seattle real-estate manager, said he was unsure if Monday's rally will significantly influence the Sonics trial, which resumes today.
"It depends on if the NBA is hearing this," he said. "Hopefully they are. I don't know if Stern has any of his cronies out here, but the NBA needed to see this."
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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