By Trenton Jocz, Sports Radio KJR
Basketball roots in Seattle run deep. Whether a player grew up here like Jason Terry, Jamal Crawford or Avery Bradley, or didn’t play here until reaching the pros like Gary Payton or Slick Watts (or Kevin Durant for that matter), Seattle has as strong of a basketball community as any.
A couple members of that community, Watts and his son Donald, who himself played two years (’97-’99) at the University of Washington, visited Mitch in studio to promote their inaugural benefit event tomorrow night for his foundation, Angels in Sports. They also gave their thoughts on the the future of basketball in Seattle after yesterday’s vote in Dallas that saw the NBA deny relocation for the Sacramento Kings franchise.
Being very practical about not succeeding in bringing to the Kings to Seattle, Donald said, “Just like … in a game or a competition and you have a loss, it’s very important to understand why you lost, what the truth is, so that you can get the win the next time, prepare yourself for the next battle and to go into the next battle ready to win.”
Considering the Board of Governors prior recommendation to keep the Kings in Sacramento (regardless of whether the vote was 7-0 or 4-3) as well as the fact that expansion isn't realistic until the league completes a new TV contract, yesterday’s outcome seemed to be a fait accompli, but the latter issue also represents hope. Donald echoed this sentiment, saying, “I think that TV scenario and starting those negotiations has a lot to do with it. I know before the vote went down, that was the conversation that was started and maybe the initiation of the TV negotiations was to spur getting something done in the way of expansion and Stern has a way of kind of hinting things without saying things and to me it sounded like what he was saying.”
Slick also expressed optimism in regards to the resolve of the Hansen/Ballmer group, saying “Steve is a solid citizen, he’s a solid human being and at one time he had that attitude that he was going to step back […] but he said for the fans of this city, [they] deserve a team and I think he’s in it for the long fight.”
As for his feelings on David Stern’s role on the initial departure of the Sonics in 2008, the elder Watts said, “To hear the city council tell you that the Sonics had no cultural values, I was more hurt from that statement than what David Stern did. Lenny Wilkens, Bill Russell’s here, Gary Payton, Shawn Kemp, all these guys always working hard for the community and to hear that we have no cultural value, I think David heard that, so he got with his boys and he said, ‘Hey, I’m gonna show you how to slip out of town.’”
However, Slick still hasn’t lost hope in Stern helping an NBA franchise find its way to Seattle. He said, “David is a businessman. He knows in his heart that Seattle is a great place for basketball. He knows it.”
For more on Angels in Sports, visit angelsinsports.org.