I recently read an article by an Oklahoma writer who mocked Seattle and its fans, spouting "Oklahomans should enjoy the Sonics without the slightest shred of guilt" and went on to suggest this whole sordid affair was a result of fan apathy by Seattle fans. Teams move "all the time" and had Seattle simply supported its team, none of this may have happened.
Yeah, right. And there were WMD’s in Iraq.
Both of these classic tales are woven through misdirection and false innuendo. Anyone who looks into the facts knows both to be lies of magnificent proportion.
For the 2008 season the Sonics averaged 13, 355 fans, or 78% capacity at Key Arena. 78% capacity for a 20-win team is pretty good in any sport. While both are low points for the team, this was in no way a trend or reflective of Seattle’s history of support for the team. This is a result of Clay Bennett’s plan to pry the team’s roots loose through his carefully orchestrated steps; create a bad on-court presence by dismantling of the team and the purging talent for future draft picks; alienate of the fan base through non-competitive on-court product: minimal local promotions and media access.
A team that is invisible, both on and off the court, surely will result in dwindling attendance figures. It’s impossible not to. Fans are only human and Bennett was banking on it. Attendance went down under Bennett’s ownership because he wanted it to, not because of fan indifference.
It’s a classic case of smoke and mirrors.
In fact, in 2007 the Sonics were 25th in the league in attendance. A figure that is slightly misleading because they were also averaging 93% capacity at Key Arena, with 15, 995 fans on average. In 2006 the Sonics were 23rd in the league in attendance, averaging 16,198 fans a night, or 95% of capacity.
Fan apathy? Are you kidding me? The facts prove the exact opposite. People who embrace the idea of fan apathy in Seattle embrace spin jobs, lies and innuendo. Seattle averaged over 90% attendance in the two seasons prior to Clay Bennett’s plan being exposed.
It really roils my blood that spin doctors claim Seattle didn’t support the team. It’s a blatant attempt to try and appease guilty minds by even suggesting it. Seattle supported the Sonics, but they didn’t support Bennett, because he didn’t want them to. Had Bennett wanted support he’d have built the team up, not torn it down. The theory he was doing it for the future only rings true in Oklahoma. Had he wanted success of any kind in Seattle he’d have kept Ray Allen and found a way to keep Rashard. But of course, they had Seattle roots. Something Bennett wasn’t interested in.
The writer of that article, Barry Tramel, writes for the Oklahoman newspaper, which is owned by Bennett's in-laws.
Still looking for those WMD’s, too. Probably right next to Bennett's Moral Code of Conduct book.