By Jason Hicks
So it is official, Seattle will be losing its NBA franchise to Oklahoma City next year. You would think that this would be a sad day in the Emerald City, but what you might not know is that the Sonics have already been relocated nearly 200 miles to the South in our fair city of Portland, Oregon. I will now expose a nefarious hijacking scheme of the Portland Trailblazers' identity that began to show its face three years ago.
We all know that Microsoft co-founder and Trailblazer owner Paul Allen's primary allegiance is to Seattle, but he seemed content with owning a basketball franchise linked to the “other” major Northwest city for the majority of his tenure as owner dating back to 1988. But while his diabolical plan to subversively turn the Blazers into another Seattle based team started to take shape in the summer of 2005, we can only speculate as to how long the blueprints for this takeover lay dormant in smoke filled rooms within secret underground hi-tech bunkers.
It all began innocently enough when the Blazers selected Martell Webster from the Seattle Preparatory School with the number six pick in the 2005 draft. Sure you could argue that trading away the third pick when impact players like Deron Williams and Chris Paul were available at the number three position was suspicious, but I’m willing to chalk that up to the incompetence of the former management team of John Nash and Steve Patterson. But then a scant nine days later the real bomb dropped: Nate McMillan was named as head coach. For those unfamiliar with Mr. McMillan, not only did he spend his entire 12 year career as a player with the Sonics, but his dedication to the franchise ran so deep that he was dubbed, “Mr. Sonic”. He is only the fourth Sonic who has had the honor of having his number retired and he also ranks in the Sonics all-time top-10 in eight statistical columns.
But it goes deeper! After retiring as a player, McMillan was hired as an assistant coach of the Sonics and in November 2000 he was named as their interim head coach. Any guesses as to whom his first game was against as head coach? That's right, on November 28th, 2000, McMillan led his beloved Sonics to a 105-93 victory over the Blazers at the Rose Garden. Just in case you still have doubts as to where Mr. Sonic’s loyalties lie I will now present the rest of the evidence.
The groundwork for Paul Allen’s usurpation of Portland’s sole professional sports team had been lain and a trusted general for the enemy now commanded the troops, one piece remained unfilled, the face-man, the so called “franchise” player who could complete the team’s journey to the dark side; enter one Brandon Roy.
It was no easy feat securing one of the brightest stars to ever come out of the Seattle area, but general manager Kevin Pritchard completed a record six draft day trades in order to land the University of Washington guard and Seattle native. Roy went on to win rookie of the year and became the undisputed face of the franchise, the transition to a covert pseudo-Sonics was nearly complete.
But there were a few pesky players who actually had ties to the city of Portland that needed to be purged first, a process which began coincidentally shortly after McMillan’s arrival. In August of 2005 Portland native and fan favorite Damon Stoudamire's contract was not renewed despite his career high 54 point performance in January of that year and an average of 15.8 points per game, his career best with the Blazers. How the Seattle axis of evil caused Damon to rupture his knee the first night he played at the Rose Garden as a non-Blazer may never be revealed. But Damon was not the only Portlander to suffer at the hands of the new regime.
In the summer of 2007, three players with Portland roots were unloaded: Jefferson High School alumni Ime Udoka's contract was not renewed despite his impeccable defense and solid shooting that had won him a spot on the roster only nine months earlier. Former Oregon High School Player of the Year Fred Jones was traded to the New York Knicks along with Portland native Dan Dickau. The official reason for the trade was to unload the troublesome Zach Randolph but clearly Allen and McMillan seized the opportunity to rid the Blazers of all Portland association once and for all as no players originally from Portland remained on the team.
Now that a cloak of darkness like the stinking exhaust from a Boeing jet has fallen over our team, we are left to wonder: what can we do now? Too long has Portland slumbered in the shadow of the malignant city of the North! We let Starbucks and grunge music dominate our culture like a dog rolling over to expose its soft underbelly in submission. I say, no more! There can be only one response to this despicable bait and switch scheme that we have endured, and its battle cry is, “Go Oklahoma City!”