Plenty of villains, but also good times | Steve Kelley
We didn't know the symbolism the collapse of the Kingdome represented. We didn't know that the fall of this concrete monolith would become a harbinger of the destruction that followed for Seattle sports in this decade.
Times staff columnist
2009 | A Look Back
Seattle Times photo editors have chosen their favorite images of 2009.
The synchronized pop, pop, pop of the explosives spun around the Kingdome and the sound echoed all the way up Alaskan Way.
Slowly the smoke poured north, up the street toward Pioneer Square, and the huge concrete dome collapsed on itself like a heavyweight falling to the canvas.
Watching the Kingdome implode, seeing those 1995 Mariners, those Final Fours, that thunderous Seahawks home-field advantage and those tingling Sonics playoff games go up in smoke, I was filled with sadness.
We were less than three months into the first decade of the 21st century, and part of Seattle's sports history was disappearing in front of us.
Still, back then, we didn't know the symbolism the collapse of the Kingdome represented. We didn't know that the fall of this concrete monolith would become a harbinger of the destruction that followed for Seattle sports in this decade.
Recently, an exclamation point for this lost decade of losses was the demolition of the Furtado Center, where the Sonics and Storm both built their championship teams.
That funky green building just off Aurora Avenue housed some of Seattle's most iconic athletes: Gary Payton, Shawn Kemp, Nate McMillan, Ray Allen, Hersey Hawkins, Detlef Schrempf and Sam Perkins. Even Kevin Durant's first NBA practices were here.
George Karl and a staff that included Dwane Casey worked Sonics teams to 60-win seasons and coached them to the 1996 NBA Finals. One of the favorite parts of the job, for me, was staying after practice at the Furtado Center and talking hoops with Karl or Casey or McMillan.
The Furtado Center is the only WNBA practice facility Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson have known. And when Anne Donovan was here, she took a team that included Bird, Jackson and Betty Lennox to the 2004 league championship.
Great memories collapsed with that last standing remnant of the Sonics years. And for much of this decade, Seattle sports were flattened as surely as the Furtado Center.
This was the decade of villains Clay Bennett, Rick Neuheisel, Barbara Hedges, Todd Turner, Tyrone Willingham, Clay Bennett, Bill Bavasi, Erik Bedard, Richie Sexson, Clay Bennett, Howard Schultz, David Stern, Wally Walker, Robert Swift and Clay Bennett.
Neuheisel marched Washington to the brink of disaster, with his loose policies and March Madness gambling violations. Then Willingham took the Huskies over the cliff. The decade will be remembered for Neuheisel's firing, his subsequent lawsuit against the University of Washington and the NCAA, and Willingham's 0-12 final season.
This was the decade of Bavasi and such Mariners calamities as Bedard, Carlos Silva, Carl Everett, Kenji Johjima, Jeff Weaver and Sexson. It was the decade Bavasi traded away the best prospect in the organization, Adam Jones. In Bavasi's final season, the team lost 101 games and the M's general manager lost his job.
Much of the decade was so bad at Safeco Field that even in the summer of 2007, when the M's were winning, manager Mike Hargrove quit.
That's the kind of decade it's been.
The past two seasons, the Seahawks have been artistic and medical disasters. The Hawks have just nine wins to show for the past two seasons, and last Sunday's 24-7 loss to Tampa Bay was one of the bleakest days in franchise history.
The collapse cost president and general manager Tim Ruskell his job. And even though future Hall of Fame coach Mike Holmgren wanted to return and fix this mess, the Hawks were too late to the dance, made a halfhearted, 11th-hour offer to him and lost Holmgren to Cleveland.
Worst of all, this was the decade Seattle lost the Sonics. Now, as a young former Sonics team matures in its new home in Oklahoma City, as Durant ripens into one of the most thrilling and productive players in the game, the loss hurts even more.
But as we begin to slowly emerge from the late-decade darkness, let's remember, it wasn't always that bad in the 2000s.
Let's celebrate the good times.
In fact, it was pretty great in 2001 when a surprising gang of Mariners, minus former superstars Ken Griffey Jr., Randy Johnson and Alex Rodriguez, won 116 games.
That team played baseball the right way. It made every day of that summer feel like the postseason. "What kind of miracle would the Mariners find today." Dave Niehaus' high-pitched calls of walkoff hits, game-closing strikeouts and miraculous throws and catches echoed around this town.
It was the prime of Jamie Moyer and Freddy Garcia. It was the career year of Paul Abbott. It was Mike Cameron chasing down would-be doubles in the gap and Edgar Martinez, Bret Boone, John Olerud, Carlos Guillen, David Bell and Dan Wilson playing baseball as soundly as anything written in the Spalding Guide.
And it was the beginning of a decade of Ichiro. Through the good times and bad, Ichiro has slapped base hits in this city in record-shattering numbers. Two-hundred-plus-hit seasons year after year. Ichiro, the metronome of the mercuric decade.
Junior returned, and general manager Jack Zduriencik and manager Don Wakamatsu arrived to fix the Mariners.
Let's celebrate the Seahawks, who made the postseason their home for most of the decade. Holmgren took them to their only Super Bowl, where but for a few dropped passes by Jerramy Stevens against Pittsburgh, this city could have partied like it did for the Sonics in 1979.
The Seahawks won four straight NFC West titles in this decade. This was the decade when Seattle got to watch perhaps the greatest left tackle ever, Walter Jones. Jones and guard Steve Hutchinson were the inexorable left side of the Seahawks' punishing line.
The 2000s saw Shaun Alexander find a way into the end zone a record-setting number of times. It was the decade Matt Hasselbeck arrived and pass-catching guarantee Bobby Engram emerged. It was the decade of warriors like Marcus Trufant, Lofa Tatupu, Robbie Tobeck, Leroy Hill, Mack Strong and Chris Gray.
As bad as they've become, let's not forget how good the Seahawks were for most of this decade.
Let's remember the good.
The Sounders arrived at the end of the decade, played in front of loud, sold-out houses at Qwest Field and were a sign of hope for the future of sports in this town.
Homeboy Kasey Keller came back from a decorated career in Europe to give a touch of class to the team's goalkeeping. And players such as Freddie Ljungberg, Fredy Montero, Nate Jaqua, Brad Evans and Steve Zakuani became part of the sports landscape.
In the Sonics' last hurrah, Ray Allen drained treys and carried the team to the 2004-05 Northwest Division championship. Don't forget the playoff series Jerome James had that year against Sacramento. And the lock-'em-up defense preached by McMillan. Picked to finish last in their division, the Sonics took eventual champion San Antonio to six games in their Western Conference playoff series.
So remember, it wasn't always this bad.
The Huskies won a Rose Bowl in 2001. The UW basketball team, under Lorenzo Romar, became a player in college basketball, going to four NCAA tournaments and earning a No. 1 seed in 2005.
This was the decade on Montlake of Marques Tuiasosopo, Brandon Roy, Jake Locker, Nate Robinson, Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, Tim Lincecum, Danielle Lawrie and Quincy Pondexter.
Former Washington goalkeeper Hope Solo won the gold medal for the United States in Beijing. Short-track speedskater Apolo Ohno won unprecedented gold in Salt Lake City and Torino. Lincecum earned back-to-back Cy Young Awards with San Francisco.
Washington's men's crew won two national championships. And PGA golfer Ryan Moore earned his elusive first PGA Tour title, the Wyndham Championship, and became the area's first legitimate threat to win a major since Freddy Couples.
Even in a disturbed decade like this, there was reason to celebrate. We can mourn the loss of the Sonics and Steve Hutchinson, Mike Holmgren and Adam Jones.
But let's not forget the good and look forward to a 2010 when we'll be fortunate enough to watch Locker at quarterback one more year. Where Steve Sarkisian should coach the Huskies to their first bowl game since 2002.
In 2010, Chone Figgins will add glitter in the Mariners' infield. Felix Hernandez and Cliff Lee will be one-two in the M's rotation. The Sounders should challenge again in the MLS Western Conference.
Lawrie will be back in the circle for Washington's defending national champion softball team. Moore will compete in the Masters. The state will have medal contenders scattered all over British Columbia for the 2010 Winter Olympics. And the Washington men's basketball team will be favored to win a second straight conference title and has a chance to taste the sweetness in the last weekend of March.
Let's bid good riddance to Clay Bennett and all the other bad guys from the 2000s.
It's a new decade. New hope.
Steve Kelley: 206-464-2176 or email@example.com
Sam and Sara Lucchese create handmade pasta out of their kitchen-garage adjacent to their Ballard home. Here, they illustrate the final steps in making pappardelle pasta.