Turns out, the SuperSonics are still in Seattle.
All their stuff is, anyway.
One week after a $45 million settlement allowed the team to move to Oklahoma City, green-and-gold Sonics banners are still flying at KeyArena. Likenesses of Xavier McDaniel, Slick Watts and Nate McMillan hover over the concession areas. Championship banners dating from the Sonics' Western Conference title in 1977-78 through the Northwest Division championship in 2004-05 hang above the court. Lampposts outside still have Sonics signs on them.
Across Seattle Center at the Furtado Center, equipment still fills their practice facility, awaiting moving vans. Al Lima, a Sonics security man inside the front door, dutifully remains at his post.
"Still here. Yes, it still exists," Lima says cheerfully. "No moving trucks yet."
He's wearing a tan golf shirt with the Sonics logo on it. A Seattle Sonics team banner is still hanging on the wall over his shoulder, next to the practice court bearing the Seattle SuperSonics logo. Upstairs, the offices of team executives and coaches sit vacant but equipped.
"I'm coming to work business as usual, until someone tells me otherwise. I'm usually the last to know," he says, chuckling. "I'm going on 10 years here.
"I don't think I'm going to make it to 10, though."
No, he won't. The Sonics are moving to Oklahoma, without most team employees. But not without 41 years of history in Seattle.
That remains stuck in a weird state of limbo. Lawyers from the team and the city are negotiating the details of last week's hastily drafted settlement that freed the Sonics to owner Clay Bennett's hometown. As they talk, the fate of the Sonics' history &
even Squatch, the team's furry mascot far more suited for the woods of the Northwest than the prairies of the Heartland &
sits in wait.
The museum designated in the agreement to house Sonics memorabilia is also waiting. Seattle's Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) doesn't know if it will even be allowed to display items such as the 1979 NBA championship trophy or be forced to lock four decades of Sonics history into a storage closet. It's part of an odd "shared history" arrangement in which officials from Oklahoma City and Seattle would remove memorabilia to display periodically.
Bennett gets to keep a title trophy from the team's glorious '78-79 season &
but only a replica of the real one.
Yes, nothing is clean or clear in this contentious move.
"The agreement will tell us whether we have the rights to display. It's one of the many things that's being worked out with the lawyers," said Mercedes Lawry, director of communications for MOHAI.
"The people at the Sonics really don't know anything," Lawry added about the situation, inadvertently echoing what jilted Seattle fans have been howling, in another context, with more colorful language.
The memorandum of understanding for the settlement dictates an agreement must be completed by Aug. 1. The Sonics should have a new name, logo and team colors by then. In the meantime, players in a summer league have been wearing generic black-and-white gear with "Oklahoma City" on it.
"That's stuff that's coming. ... Until that gets announced, I guess, officially, we'll be waiting," general manager Sam Presti said Thursday from Oklahoma.
Presti wouldn't say when the moving trucks will clear the Sonics' stuff from Seattle into a still-to-be-located facility in Oklahoma City.
"We're operating to keep the business running, and it's starting to be transitioned," he said, "... and we're quickly transitioning everything as fast as we can.
"We're more concerned with what's inside the jersey than what's on the outside for us right now. I'm sure we'll have a great name."
In Seattle, they will only have memories of Lenny Wilkens and Jack Sikma, Shawn Kemp and Kevin Durant.
The Sonics' team shop is still selling those at 25 percent off.
Thursday morning, Charles Tripp and his 7-year-old son Yonah were there next to the main entrance of KeyArena trying to decide whether to buy a gold or white jersey of Durant, last season's rookie of the year.
But even that purchase will be going to Oklahoma. The Tripps were on vacation from Tulsa.
AP Sports Writer Jeff Latzke in Oklahoma City contributed to this report.
SuperSonics are still in Seattle