Sports Sonics Death Watch
posted by April 14 at 11:30 AMon
Over the weekend, I mentioned to a group of friends the 200-word column by a National Book Award-winning author that runs every week on the back page of The Stranger, and one person in the group—a former editor at The Stranger!—had no idea what I was talking about.
Ladies and gentlemen, please enjoy the XIIIth installment of Sherman Alexie’s weekly short story in a box:
These are my three favorite Sonics memories:
1. In 2002, during a home game, Gary Payton twisted his knee at an obscene angle. As he, screaming in pain, was carried back to the locker room, I wept, thinking that his career might be over. But a moment later, miraculously healed, Payton came running back onto the court. The home crowd exalted. We genuflected. We spoke in tongues.
2. In 2005, in the last seconds of the sixth game of a surprisingly competitive playoff series with the San Antonio Spurs, Ray Allen launched a jumper from the corner that could have won the game and sent the series back to Texas for a seventh and deciding game. As that shot hung in the air, suspended between the corporeal and mystic, I believed that my beloved Sonics were going to vanquish the evil Spurs. Allen missed the shot, but I will always carry with me the gorgeous hope of that moment.
3. In 2000, when my late father was still healthy enough to travel, I flew him over for a game against the Lakers. As my father sat beside me in row 14, he smiled and said, “These are great seats.” In Alexie-speak, that meant, “I love you, Son.”
As a Monday-morning gift to you, dear Slog readers, here is the XIVth Sonics Death Watch, which will be published in our print edition two days hence:
Emily Dickinson wrote, “Hope is the thing with feathers.” As an undying Sonics fan, I’d like to amend that to “Hope is the thing with a good lawyer.”
Due to legal circumstances, I have regained my hope that the Sonics will not be leaving our city. Being a Catholic, a Native American, and a fragile and finite human, my hopes are tidal.
Back in 1997, when the Sonics signed Vin Baker, a gifted low post scorer, I had torrential hope. Was this the man who was going to lead us to another championship?
A few weeks before that season started, as I paid for my pizza, the Domino’s man told me he was delivering a large pepperoni pizza to Vin Baker.
“I’m so excited for the season,” the pizza man said. “I wish I had a basketball or something for him to sign.”
Just as excited, I gave the man one of my basketballs and a $20 tip. Of course, ten thousand pizzas and beers later, Baker turned into an alcoholic, obese failure who drank and ate his way out of the league. But even now, as I mourn for Baker, I also hope he’s sober and slender. I want to tell him, “Hope is the thing with a talented therapist.”