Friday, August 21, 2009

Why is Seattle still hating on Oklahoma City?

It was right at a year ago that an Oklahoma City investor group headed up by Clay Bennett ended a months-long struggle to move the hapless Seattle SuperSonics NBA franchise to the comfy confines of a new home in Bennett's home town. And, as the now-renamed Oklahoma City Thunder head toward the early stages of their 2nd season, it appears some folks in Seattle are still holding a grudge.

First, it was apparently Thunder player Nick Collison who indirectly let the rest of his Twitter-following world know he wasn't crazy about his new professional home. That can be forgiven, possibly, because no one is every truly delighted at the prospect of being uprooted from their hometown by job mandates. Yet the e-warfare finally drew in Oklahoma City radio talk show host (and former Major League Baseballer) Jim Traber, who called Collison out for his apparent "anti-Oklahoma City" attitude. Traber's position was pretty simple - if you don't like Oklahoma City, stay in Seattle. After some pointed on-air volleys, Collison joined Traber on his afternoon talk show, and while the two probably won't be doing lunch anytime soon, the two found some peace, and supposedly that part of the feud has ended.

That might be considered only a minor skirmish, but now its spilling over to the broader media. An ESPN writer by the name of Bill Simmons, in a manner that could only be deemed as slightly more mature than that of the first graders my wife teaches, refuses to refer to Oklahoma City by name when discussing the Thunder - as if each omitted word somehow pierced Oklahoma City to its very heart - assuming more than 5% of the population even knew who Simmons was. They know him now, because that same Jim Traber has taken him to task for his pettiness. And who can blame him? Oklahoma City doesn't owe anyone any apologies for now serving as host to the NBA in contrast to a city that expressed its utter disinterest over a broad period of years.

Worst of all, now, is a Seattle sports radio host by the name of Dave "Softy" Mahler who took carefully edited snippets of the Traber-Collison interview and decided to make Traber the foil for all of Oklahoma City, and apparently incited dozens of people to send profanity-laced email tirades to Traber about, well, everything..from the general hick level of most Oklahomans, to a variety of topics that couldn't be repeated on air. Traber is now encouraging his own radio entourage to follow suit, minus the profanity, to convey a bit about Oklahoma City back to ol Softy. (Note: After this was published, Mahler responded to me and indicated his remarks and disdain were more generally directed towards Traber specifically rather than Oklahoma City in general. Fair enough...)

All of this brings up a simple question. Why does the city of Seattle, famous, world-known, coffee-drinking, hyper-elite Seattle, still harboring ill-will toward Oklahoma? No one in Oklahoma City held a gun to the head of the then-Sonics ownership to sell. No one stopped Seattle from building a half-decent facility to host the Sonics. And what about all those fans at latter-day Sonics games that showed up dressed as empty seats? Ultimately, if Seattle didn't want the Sonics, that's fine.

Oklahoma City did.

Put simply, in the battle for the NBA, Seattle lost, and Oklahoma City won. Oklahoma City owes Seattle no apologies, and Seattle's false erudition and own personal offense at having lost their not-so-beloved NBA franchise to a less-cosmopolitan Midwestern town shows more of their own personal bigotry and bias than anything else. And that's to Seattle's shame.

Power to ya, Jim Traber.

As for you, Seattle...I think its time you just got over it.

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