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Originally published January 23, 2013 at 8:01 PM | Page modified January 26, 2013 at 5:06 PM

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Basketball adds another bounce to our step

Every time the team plays, people around the country will hear Seattle mentioned. Who thought about Oklahoma City before the Sonics/Thunder arrived there?

Seattle Times staff columnist

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Basketball is back, bringing prestige, profits and pride to our already well-blessed city. Now, if the deal works out, we’ll again have all of the major sports that count, and maybe someday, hockey, too.

I don’t think you have to be a basketball fan, or even a sports fan, to appreciate an addition to Seattle’s entertainment options and to the city’s brand. Every time the team plays, people around the country will hear Seattle mentioned. Who thought about Oklahoma City before the Sonics/Thunder arrived there?

OK, we’re not Oklahoma City. They needed a team more than we did. We’re known for all kinds of things: Boeing, Microsoft, Starbucks, Amazon, beautiful scenery, the UW, our baseball team, the uh, Mariners, the Reign, the Storm, the Sounders and the sizzling Seahawks.

That’s a lot, but a city can’t ever have too much if it wants to be No. 1.

Last year, Bloomberg Businessweek made a list of the country’s top 50 cities and ranked Seattle second, just behind San Francisco.

The order was determined by counting libraries, restaurants, bars, park acreage per 1,000 people, museums and colleges. The magazine also compared average income, education levels and unemployment rates and the number of professional sports teams. (Apparently, just men’s pro teams.)

They didn’t count charitable giving, diversity, health, safety and a host of other measures, transportation, leadership ... well, never mind, it’s just a list. And anyway, different stuff matters to different people.

Like, I wasn’t crushed when the Sonics left. I was glad we didn’t throw public money at the team’s owners to keep the team here, and I think I’d have felt the same way about the financing issue, even if I’d been a big fan. You remember the Kingdome? It’s long gone, but taxpayers won’t finish paying for its construction and upkeep until 2016.

Still, I know loss of the Sonics was painful for many people — fans and people who worked at or owned businesses that benefited particularly from the team’s presence.

One of the great things about cities is that they offer so much to so many people of differing tastes. No one is required to like it all, but it’s great to be able to explore.

I grew up in a city too small to have professional sports, or opera, or ballet, or a professional orchestra, theaters or an art museum. Some of that, a person could see on TV, but here I’ve had a chance to see how different the experience of those things can be in person.

The more enrichment options the better, and I think basketball is a good fit for Seattle. It’s played inside, so winter rain can’t make fans miserable, though maybe “can’t” is too strong a word, since I believe Seattle is the only place where an NBA game has been called on account of rain. That happened in 1986 when the Sonics played in the Seattle Center Coliseum, where the roof often leaked during a hard rain. It got bad enough during one game that January that officials stopped play.

Yeah, that’s kind of embarrassing. And the Sonics happened to be playing the Phoenix Suns, which kind of put an exclamation point on what some might have seen as a shortcoming of our climate. Fortunately, we have a lot of other good things going for us.

Jerry Large’s column appears Monday and Thursday. Reach him at 206-464-3346 or jlarge@seattletimes.com

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About Jerry Large

I try to write about the intersections of everyday life and big issues. I like to invite readers to think a little differently. The topics I choose represent the things in which I take an interest, and I try to deal with them the way most folks would, sometimes seriously, sometimes with a sense of humor. My column runs Mondays and Thursdays.
jlarge@seattletimes.com | 206-464-3346

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