From one fan to another: Helping bring back pro basketball to Seattle
by rick olivares photo from sonicsgate FB
I was shocked at how the NBA could allow a franchise like the Seattle Supersonics to leave just like that. I tried to find out information on what happened and didn’t get much until I saw what these Sonics fans did. I purchased the DVD of the documentary (a well-produced and incredibly informative and engaging one) to throw some support and even wrote about it on the Philippine page of nba.com. What follows is a short interview with the producer of Sonicsgate, Adam Brown.
One of the other persons involved in this film, Brian Robinson, will be in Manila soon, and we’re going to meet up to see what else can be done. Thanks to Adam and Brian for all their unwavering faith to see pro basketball return to Seattle and for the support in my writing about this issue.
Rick Olivares: Can you kindly describe the last home game of the Sonics before the team left. What was the atmosphere like? Did the people of Seattle know that they were gone then?
Adam Brown: The final Sonics home game at KeyArena in 2008 was the most uniquely powerful and emotional sports event I've ever attended. A packed, passionate crowd came out to support our team and willed the all-time franchise worst 18-62 Sonics to victory over the contending Dallas Mavericks that night. We all knew in our hearts that the team was likely gone, but there was still hope with the Federal lease trial to come. We tried to convey this emotional roller coaster in our film Sonicsgate, as the little moments of hope would pop up when Sonics fans thought we could beat the odds. It was an unparalleled moment as our community's love for the Sonics transcended all of the hopelessness, and KeyArena became the toughest home court advantage in the league that it was in the 90s glory years. The atmosphere felt like a playoff game, as the only Rookie of the Year in Sonics franchise history, Kevin Durant, downed the Mavs in the clutch closing minutes of the game. Durant hyped up the crowd's ferocious chants of "Save Our Sonics" that echoed through the building, as this basketball city represented for all the Sonics fans worldwide that we weren't just letting this team go without a fight. Truly a special night in sports history.
Rick: How did the idea of doing a documentary about this come about? Was it difficult? Did the league try to stop you in anyway?
Adam: We are just the biggest Sonics fans our whole lives, and we all fought our hardest to keep the team here before it tragically relocated. Yes, it was difficult, but with a ton of help from people throughout the local community, our core six-man production team shot 39 exclusive interviews, sifted through hundreds of hours of archival footage and edited the movie together over four months, releasing it for free online in October 2009. We were heartbroken and angry about the scandalous circumstances that caused our team to leave. The movie was our attempt to let the nation know the truth about those circumstances and start a movement to bring basketball back to Seattle. Early in 2012, CNBC contacted us about licensing the film and we re-cut a new version that aired nationally this year.
The league turned down our interview requests to have David Stern or another representative appear in the film, but it hasn't contacted us since then or tried to stop the film in any way to our knowledge. Everything we've done has been out of love for the Sonics, so we like to think that the league knows we are the biggest fans and consumers of its product. We're straight up NBA junkies. Even since the Sonics left, we still subscribe to League Pass, play in a competitive NBA fantasy league and watch as much pro hoops as ever. It will be great to restore the legacy of the Sonics here in Seattle, and thanks to Chris Hansen that day may come sooner than later.
Rick: What was the response of the NBA to Sonicsgate? Would you know of any reactions by former Seattle players to Sonicsgate? Did the film have any impact on NBA fans or the people of Seattle?
Adam: We haven't heard any official league response to the movie. Everyone who has watched it has given us great feedback, and it's all been overwhelmingly positive. Check out all the bonus features and press on our website to see some sample responses. Ray Allen tweeted his support for Seattle after watching the movie in 2009. Gary Payton, Shawn Kemp, Spencer Haywood, Xavier McDaniel, Jack Sikma, Slick Watts and many others have watched the movie and expressed support for bringing basketball back to Seattle. We get emails from sports fans all over the country and even internationally saying they were impacted by the film, which is rewarding to hear. The biggest impact we've had is locally, where there was great apathy and bitterness when the team left, and now there is unabated enthusiasm throughout our community for bringing the Sonics back.
Rick: With Chris Hansen in the picture, what does this mean? Since the announcement of the new deal, what has happened?
Adam: The Seattle City Council officially votes to approve the arena deal on Monday, Sept. 24! The fans here have risen up since Sonicsgate came out and let it be known that we want basketball back here. Chris Hansen made it possible with his calm vision and generosity. Now the NBA just needs to help find Hansen a team to bring the Sonics back so we can get those banners back up and retire Gary Payton's jersey along with Gus Williams, Nate McMillan, Jack Sikma and the other greats. We're happy that our movie has helped this cause, and we can't wait to root for our hometown team again.
For more info about Sonicsgate is available at www.sonicsgate.com
Rick: Thanks, Adam and good luck to the city of Seattle!