After 11 miserable seasons without our beloved SuperSonics, the city of Seattle rejoiced Friday morning when NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced the return of an expansion franchise.
The Seattle SuperSonics — who will keep their original name — will return to the Western Conference in time for the 2021–22 season.
Much of the delay is attributed to the renovations of KeyArena, the former — and future — home of the SuperSonics. With an $850 million renovation in the works that was once thought to primarily service Seattle’s coming NHL franchise, the Sonics will additionally return home to a city yearning for basketball.
“It is my privilege to announce the expansion of the NBA back to this great city of Seattle, a community that once witnessed a heartbreaking departure over a decade ago,” said Silver, who addressed the media on the breaking news. “With the ongoing renovations of KeyArena and the outcry for basketball in the city, awarding Seattle a team was simply a no-brainer.”
The NBA currently consists of two conferences — the Eastern and Western Conferences — with 15 teams in each. As part of the NBA’s expansion agreement, each conference will add an additional team in order to keep each conference equal in size.
The SuperSonics will return to the Western Conference, but as noted earlier, they are not the only city with a franchise headed its way.
Kansas City will additionally home an NBA franchise and will begin to play alongside Seattle for the 2021–22 season. This is for good reason — though the cities differ in opinion on who deserves a basketball team more, it seems as if both will have their wish granted.
Typically, it is near impossible for an expansion team to see success immediately upon existence. When first introduced to the NBA in 1967, the SuperSonics were just 23–59 in their inaugural season. But recent news could give Seattle quite an advantage with their return.
Kevin Durant — an NBA superstar and one of just two remaining players to have donned a Sonics uniform — has committed to play for Seattle once the team returns. Durant played one season with the team before their relocation to Oklahoma City.
Durant also carries with him the ability to lure other superstars to Seattle. James Harden, drafted by the Thunder soon after their arrival, will become a free agent in 2020. Russell Westbrook, who was drafted by the Sonics six days before their relocation, will have to wait until 2023 to sign with another team — but don’t rule out a career-ending return to the team that once drafted him.
Though all three were once teammates, Harden and Durant left Oklahoma City in 2012 and 2016, respectively. But if the three were to reunite in Seattle to make a championship run, the trio could end their careers in storybook fashion, bringing a championship to Seattle — a city that let their team get away.
If you’re excited for the 2021 season, don’t be — I’m just kidding. I hope this wasn’t too brutal.