One of the great injustices in recent basketball history was the removal of the Seattle Supersonics from Seattle and their subsequent move to Oklahoma City. And with the Thunder looking like one of the main contenders to participate in the NBA Finals this year, it’s worth asking whether or not the Thunder would be better positioned to compete for a championship this year if they were playing their home games in Seattle still.
Oklahoma City finds itself in the middle of the pack in the Western Conference playoff picture with a few weeks left to go in the 2018-2019 regular season. But despite their likely inclusion in the playoffs, they haven’t been playing their best basketball. Failing to win consistently as of late, the Thunder aren’t inspiring a ton of confidence that they will have what it takes to defeat the seemingly invincible Golden State Warriors.
The Thunder have averaged 100% attendance during their home games this year, but are in the middle of the pack in attendance anyway, as their arena in Oklahoma City’s capacity is just over 18,000. KeyArena had a similar capacity, with renovations planned to increase that total and the potential for a new arena having been discussed before the move.
More important than the arena capacity in Seattle, though, would have been the fan base that had been a part of such an illustrious tradition of winning for a period of time. The Sonics enjoyed championships and NBA Finals appearances during their time in Seattle, and had fans that could propel the team when needed to get to those heights. Oklahoma City has yet to experience that championship euphoria, and thus lacks that extra gear to push the team to those heights.
Also important could have been the boost that having a local star on staff would have provided, in the form of Seattle Storm champion Sue Bird. Bird, fresh off of the 2018 WNBA championship, has been working on the Denver Nuggets coaching staff to rave reviews. If the Sonics were still around, Bird could have been an asset to them instead, making a good team even better.
As the playoffs draw closer, NBA betting on bet365 Finals odds have the Thunder at +3000 to win the championship this year, which is unlikely given the superior odds of the Warriors among other teams. But those odds could have been better in Seattle with a better crowd to push the team and with the infusion of a great basketball mind like that of Bird.
Of course, if the Thunder was still in Seattle, who knows if Kevin Durant leaves the team to join the Golden State Warriors thanks to Seattle’s status as one of the best cities in the country. Regardless, the Thunder have yet to get a championship since their departure from Seattle, and they have a chance to change that this year. And while Seattle sports fans are left to wonder what could have been, the rest of the league will be doing everything they can to prevent the Thunder from getting the job done, much to the delight of spurned Sonics fans.