Sonics fans, we have a voice…
The Seattle Supersonics fan base is alive, if you didn’t believe it before the June 14th rally at Occidental Park in Seattle, then you do now.
Fans came out in droves, I’ve seen reports of the number of fans in attendance between 4,000-6,000 and I’m here to tell you that the high end of that has got to be more accurate.
It was an amazing scene, I had goosebumps for most of the two hour event. I felt as if the NBA had never left, and as if it will never leave again once we have it back which I now firmly believe will be soon.
Setting the stage
I parked about four blocks from Occidental Park where the rally was held right at 4 o’clock when the rally was set to start. Through the traffic, the hustle and bustle that is downtown Seattle late in the afternoon I could already hear the roaring crowd being prompted by somebody on stage with a resounding “SUPER!!!……SONICS!!!”, yes friends, the chills started there.
I scurried through the streets in an effort to not miss one second of the rally, I knew this was going to be special.
As I got close I could tell the police heard the rumor that the “Occupy Seattle” people were planning on protesting the rally as the Seattle P.D. made sure their presence was felt on the outskirts of the rally and were there to make sure it was peaceful.
Fortunately for all, these occupiers never came and the rally couldn’t have been more peaceful.
As I moved past the wall of police, I could see that getting there a few hours early was the only way to find yourself near the stage, the park was packed with chanting fans all sporting the green and gold that we all miss so much.
The stars were shining
It didn’t take but a second to see that the stars had come out.
As I was approaching the side of the stage through the overflowing crowd, I looked back stage and could see Gary Payton back there talking to Eric Powers of KUBE 93 FM doing an interview.
Behind them was Nate Robinson, Aaron Brooks and Spencer Hawes.
Those were just the few that I spotted before I realized I was walking swiftly up to the event right next to Kenny Mayne of ESPN and that Detlef Schrempf and Slick Watts were already on stage with Chris Hansen and Kevin Calabro kicking the rally off in style.
Needless to say, the local stars had come out and knew how important this event was for our city, and for Sonics fans everywhere, if we were to gain even more steam in this push for a new arena to house our beloved NBA team.
And so it began
Like I said, Kevin Calabro, Chris Hansen, Detlef Schrempf and Slick Watts were all on stage to get this thing going, tossing Sonics Arena shirts in to the crowd and getting everyone fired up.
Kevin Calabro led off by reading a statement from Seattle Mayor, Mike McGinn declaring that on this day, Occidental Square would be renamed Seattle Supersonics Park, the thousands in attendance went nuts.
Chris Hansen wanted us all to close our eyes and envision the day of that first game back, the new Seattle Supersonics in a brand new arena down in the SODO district, I’m pretty sure the entire crowd was with me in la-la-land thinking about that day, that glorious day when our Sonics come back as we listened to our new found hero, Chris Hansen tell us that it was going to happen as long as we the fans are willing to make it happen.
The music in between each of the speakers kept the crowd pumped, Common Market, The Presidents of The United States, Macklemore and Blue Scholars were all awesome and all showed love for the Sonics.
But I was there to hear our leaders speak, to hear the biggest pro-Sonics voices in our community and digest everything they had to tell us on this amazing day.
When Gary Payton, Shawn Kemp and Nate Robinson took the stage I’m not sure I can describe how I felt, it was incredible seeing some of my childhood heroes at the forefront of an effort to get my favorite basketball team back.
Gary led off talking about how he knew we were all mad that the team formerly known as the Sonics was in the NBA finals, he assured us that he was too.
A huge roar of boo’s came over the crowd, then The Glove says, “yeah, you should be mad, that’s exactly what I said when they asked me to retire my jersey back in Oklahoma City!!”, there’s no doubt why this town loves you GP!!!
Nate Robinson talked about how he’s one of us, how in his 28 years of existence he’s been a Sonics fan just like us.
He grew up watching Gary to Shawn alley-oops dreaming of the day he could make it to the NBA and how he didn’t think it would have been possible if not for the inspiration that those great Sonics teams of the 90’s had given him and the rest of our community.
Best of show
While I loved listening to Gary, Shawn, Nate, Detlef, Slick, Chris Hansen, Calabro, Eric Powers and more, Mike Gastineau and Duff McKagan certainly win the most inspirational award for the evening.
They were telling all of us to tweet to the Seattle and the King County Councils (@SeattleCouncil @KCCouncil) and tell them we support this arena project with passion, pride and with respect for the job at hand for each member of the councils.
I’m pretty sure everyone in the crowd did just that, those in attendance and many at home following on Twitter made the hash tag “#SonicsRally” the #1 trending topic in America just moments before game 2 of the NBA Finals.
For those readers that don’t use twitter, this is not even close to an easy thing to accomplish and I’m proud to have been a part of it.
But that’s only the start of the inspiration and the passion that the Gas-Man from Seattle’s own Sports Radio KJR (former long time radio home of the Sonics) had for the crowd.
A few quotes from Gas himself , “YOU can make this happen, but you can’t wait for the guy next to you to do it, you’ve got to keep pushing! There will be problems, there will be tough days but the will of the people was not denied in 1995 and it will not be denied this year!! No way!!! No, way!!!”.
Powerful words from a long time Seattle voice in sports, he’s been there, he’s been on our side of many arena and stadium battles through the years and is definitely on our side of this one.
The entire crowd was even more invigorated, there was electricity in the air as good ol’ Gas-Man knew exactly what we all needed to hear. Have a listen to Gas and Duff right here, trust me, it’s worth 5 minutes of your time.
The home stretch
As Chris Hansen himself said at the rally, we are now in the home stretch of this arena becoming a reality. 18 people voted into two separate councils are all that stand in our way of getting this proposal to the next level and making a tangible first step towards getting our Sonics back.
This week has been huge, it’s been designed beautifully by Chris Hansen and his team who have portrayed nothing but pure class throughout this entire process thus far.
First, earlier in the week Mr.Hansen announced that Steve Ballmer, Pete Nordstrom and Erik Nordstrom will all be a part of the investment team providing as much financial wherewithal as any of us could possibly hope for and followed that by organizing this magical event that thousands of us were able to attend.
We must continue to do our part, Sonics fans, we have to as the ball is in our court.
If there’s one thing that we all know, regardless of your political beliefs it’s that those elected officials want to be re-elected. If the vast vocal majority is in favor of something, they’re much more likely to vote in that direction.
You MUST go to SonicsArena.com, sign the petition and write a letter to each of the councils in a respectful manner making sure they know your position and that you want our Sonics back safely in Seattle.
A huge thanks again from myself, my friends and family that were able to attend this rally. But the biggest thanks goes out to Chris Hansen.
Without you sir, none of this would be possible and we know you don’t want to be called a hero, but again, you are just that to so many of us.
LET’S BRING BACK OUR SONICS!!!! WE’RE ALMOST THERE!!!!!