What it Would be Like if the SuperSonics Came Home

What we see the first game looking like... whenever it happens
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It’s been eight years since the Seattle SuperSonics existed as a team and played in KeyArena. 

Last week, The Seattle Times reported that New Mexico-based real estate investment company M.T. Phoenix LLC had contacted the Mayor’s office and "expressed interest" in renovating KeyArena for NBA (and NHL) use. And while the Times notes that the company's vice president Christopher Brozovich is still waiting on a response from city officials, the news got us excited.

Maybe too excited.

What would the renovated stadium look like? When would the Sonics be able to play there again and regain their longstanding NBA tradition of success, which includes the 1979 NBA title? Who would be on the team? What would former Sonic greats Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp and Detlef Schrempf be doing on the opening night?

We thought we’d imagine what the scene downtown would look like on opening night: 

It’s a windy Halloween evening in 2017. Fans are lined up outside KeyArena dressed as the Seattle Supersonic Sasquatch mascot, others wear plain clothes and hold signs with big Xs through Starbucks latte cups. During the NBA draft, the Sonics had the fourth pick and chose a 6-foot-10-inch kid out of the University of Texas (not named Kevin Durant), and all signs point to him staying with the team for years. The kid can shoot from outside, can post up and once he has a little experience in the league, his dribbling skills will improve to all-star level. Fans are beyond hopeful. The rookie is surrounded by a mix of veterans and young players. 

That’s where Gary Payton comes in. He’s a minority owner with the team, along with Kemp and Schrempf, all three of whom are on hand for the team unveiling. It’s been a long road for Seattle and for these former players who have petitioned for the team to come home.

After the renovation, KeyArena is now much bigger. There are four levels of seats and rows and rows of luxury boxes and suites occupied by Microsoft and Amazon bigwigs, HBO personnel and former Seahawks players and owners. No one from the Starbucks offices are allowed in. Not this year at least. The parquet floor is gleaming, the plant-green SuperSonics logo glistens under the lights as the team takes their warm-ups. Tonight’s opponent? The Chicago Bulls. Yes, they beat us in in the ’96 finals, but this time we're sure to get revenge.

Vendors are selling the traditional Seattle dog with cream cheese dyed Sonics green. There are neon green foam fingers, retro Sam Perkins jerseys and posters of Kemp about to dunk a basketball. Before the team is introduced, members of the 1979 team are celebrated, including the great player and coach Lenny Wilkens. He gives a short speech saying how proud and happy he is to have the Sonics back in Seattle and how, since he is a minority owner, he and the others will do all they can to bring the Finals back to Seattle. The crowd cheers.

La Luz singings the national anthem. People cheer, clap, a few cry (Chris Hanson among them). The press box is full. Writers from all over the world are in attendance. ESPN TV is broadcasting it as the Friday night specialty. LeBron James tweets about the Sonics returning to the league, saying, “Can’t wait to visit the Emerald City this season. #ILovePho.” 

There is more buzz at halftime–the Sonics are up 54-52–about how the new NHL team, the Seattle Forest, will play here the following night. How, given the new stadium renovations, there are already planned dates for Pearl Jam, Jay Z, Taylor Swift and Paul McCartney. How the city is bustling with excitement. 

But alas, it's all a dream. For now.

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