NBA Sunday: Basketball Back in Seattle
Pro Hoops Comes Back to Seattle
Even though we haven’t officially missed a single day of the upcoming NBA season yet (it still would just be the offseason, after all), it feels like basketball has been gone forever and will continue to be gone forever, just because of the dark cloud hanging over this thing via the lockout.
But really, basketball has only been gone for a little over a month, and even if the entire 2011-2012 season gets cancelled, it will eventually come back. Neither of those statements can be applied to the city of Seattle, however, where basketball has been gone for a few years already, and won’t return for the foreseeable future.
That’s why it was so nice to have NBA players back in KeyArena for the first league-sanctioned event there since 2008, when the SuperSonics last existed. Jamal Crawford, Martell Webster, Aaron Brooks, and Spencer Hawes—all from the Seattle area—played for Team Seattle in the H206 Charity Basketball Classic on Saturday. As it happens, the Seattle gang won the competition, but what made the event most memorable was the crowd of thousands chanting “Come home Sonics!” over and over again towards the end of the game.
“I’m sitting here and I’m excited to see fans out here,” said Brandon Roy, who sat out the event to protect his surgically-repaired knees. “I remember my last game here, I think we lost, but just knowing that this is all my friends and family here. These are people I’ve played in front of since I was a kid. I think these kids enjoy that… That’s special and for me it’s like, ‘why can’t this city have a team?’
“I miss the Sonics,” he added. “I know the fans do. We all want to see a team back here.”
Former Seattle All-Star Jack Sikma, currently an assistant coach with the Houston Rockets, attended the event as well, and while he agreed that it would be nice to see pro hoops return to Seattle, he knows the reality of that is far from likely right now. “It’s hard to put it all together,” he said. “That puzzle is tough. I think there is a will, but the way is not clear yet.”
Nearly everybody who showed up to the game wore old Sonics shirts or jerseys—lots of Gary Paytons and Shawn Kemps and Rashard Lewises and Ray Allens—but the reality is that it might be a while before KeyArena gets this level of NBA action again. Basketball isn’t anywhere close to ending up back in the state of Washington, unfortunately, but a game like this is a nice reminder of what used to be.
Michael Beasley, Marvin Williams, Dorell Wright, Terrence Williams, and rookies Isaiah Thomas, Klay Thompson, and Nolan Smith also participated in the event, while both Roy and Rodney Stuckey showed up but decided to sit out the event for health-related reasons.
Roy Healthy, But Not Taking Any Chances
Brandon Roy was one of the players most prominently featured in advertisements for the aforementioned charity hoops event in Seattle, and was arguably the biggest start in the room on Saturday, so you can imagine how disappointed the fans were to discover that he wouldn’t be playing in the game.
“I’m disappointed [that I didn't get to play],” Roy told Ben Golliver of CBS Sports after the game. “But at the same time I knew I wasn’t going to get an ‘OK’ to play. It’s kind of an ‘at your own risk’ thing. My situation was different, especially coming off of the knee injury from last year. Even though I wanted to play, I just had to make the smart decision.”
Roy is coming off double-knee surgery this past winter, another in a long-line of fixes for a couple of knees that are essentially grinding bone-on-bone at this point. At one point there were rumors that he’d consider an experimental surgery that would transplant a healthy meniscus from a cadaver into Roy’s own knees, but he never did go through the surgery.
Instead, he’s got a couple of repaired knees that are going to have a very hard time remaining functional for the years and years Roy hopes are still left in his career. Yes, the fans would’ve loved to see him play, but with so much money and so much basketball at stake, he probably did the right thing by sitting this event out.
Despite all of that, Roy says he’s feeling good. “I’m healthy. I’m in a position where I’m not battling any soreness or anything, so I feel like I can start improving, getting better with my game. I’m excited,” he said.
“I’ll start turning it up more, playing more competitively, as we get into August,” he added. “Really no room for it now. Really just trying to fine-tune some things and just get better. I’m excited that I’m not in any pain and I can just play and not have any pressure in having to deal with the knees, just go out there and hoop.”
There are serious doubts about what Roy has left in the tank (or his knees, more accurately), but it sounds like he’s approaching the offseason pretty responsibly. He definitely won’t be one of the players you hear about considering Europe, and the longer the offseason is, the more time he’ll have to rest his legs. As bad as the lockout could be, that at least would be a silver lining for Blazers fans.
Where Will Larry Brown Ultimately Land?
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, Larry Brown is interested in taking the assistant coaching position left behind by Lawrence Frank in Boston. With Frank likely headed to Detroit to take the head coach opening there, Brown reportedly grew very interested in a short-term assistant deal where he could help Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen fight for one last championship before that particular core falls apart.
That’s not likely to happen, however, as Mike Longabardi seems to be the Celtics assistant coach tagged for the bump to lead assistant, leaving us to wonder what will ultimately happen with Larry Brown later this year?
Remember, he was fired from the Bobcats in the middle of last season, and since that point has been connected to college jobs at UNLV, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Penn State. Of course, a lot of those “connections” were his own doing; rather than these schools showing real interest in the 70-year-old coaching legend, Brown simply made it known he wouldn’t mind coaching those schools.
Universities were turned off by the idea that Brown wouldn’t be staying long, and probably wouldn’t want to make too much of an effort towards building a real system. In the NBA, however, there’s no system to build, so one would think that Brown could find himself a spot somewhere, especially if he’s open to taking an assistant’s job.
If teams are looking for longer-term solutions, however, it’d be hard to commit to Brown, notorious for growing bored quickly with even the best of situations.
Clearly, he’s interested in working next season, but if it’s not going to be a college program and it’s not going to be Boston, one has to wonder where he’ll end up. If he’s this motivated to get himself a job, chances are he’ll eventually end up with one. The bigger question might not be why he’s still so unemployed, but rather, why isn’t a coach with his resume in higher demand?