Monday, February 13, 2012
Finding parallels between today's NBA, yesterday's NFL
Baltimore Colts-Seattle Supersonics
Indinapolis Colts-Oklahoma City Thunder
Cleveland Browns-Sacramento Kings
I'm on the record as being against moving the Sacramento Kings from one great basketball town to another, but as the days pass and it seems to become more of an inevitability, I'm beginning to see some parallels between the movement of the NBA and how some great fans were burned by another league years ago.
For my Seattle-based readers, let me know if this sounds familiar to you:
A city (Baltimore) with a long history of supporting their team, with a great history and tradition (Johnny Unitas) is sold to a man as the building the team plays in is called inadequate. Local politicians were against putting money towards new sports stadiums, and so the team with over 30 years of history was yanked away without so much as a goodbye, destined to play in some backwater town in the middle of the country. Afterwards, a devoted group of fans lobbied incessently for the return of the sport, in the end only being placated by taking a team from someone else.
The parallels are many and striking. The image of the Mayflower moving trucks leaving Baltimore left a scar on not just the Baltimore sports psyche, but that of the entire nation. The Irsays, more than a decade after football returned to Baltimore, are no better a name in the city than Bennett in the northwest. From 1983 to 1996, the old Baltimore Colts marching band continued to play in the city and around the league, giving fans hope and leading the charge for the revival of the sport in Maryland. And that return came, but at the expense of the Cleveland Browns and their fans. Cleveland has since seen their team return as well (through expansion no less) in 1999.
Now, Seattle seems poised to see their sport return four years after the Sonics were soullessly ripped from their heart. But the fanbase is confronted with doing to Sacramento what Baltimore did to Cleveland (who had another owner not thought of well today). If Sacramento is indeed headed to Seattle, one can only hope that it will be handled the same way; Sacramento regaining a team in the future, and their history remaining in Sacramento the way the Browns and Ravens handled things.