The NBA Is Irrelevant In Seattle

For those of you who have never been there, Seattle is a beautiful American city. Sorry, I forgot to add, it is a beautiful wet American city. It is located in the region of the continent where it does rain a lot. Which may not sound so great on its own but add in that winters are generally moderate and summers are not humid then it is not all bad.


Still no matter what the climate, Seattle is not generally known as a hockey town. Both the Seahawks of the NFL and the Washington ( University) Huskies represent what Pacific Northwest residents care about. There was a time that it was not unusual to find the Seattle Mariners near the bottom of the league when it came to attendance despite the popularity of their NFL brethren . There was a time they were flirting with 4 figure attendance per game.   Kevin Durant was a Seattle resident back when he could not legally drink in a Washington State bar. Lenny Wilkens brought Seattle an NBA  championship back in 1979. The Sonics also barely avoided a  sweep in the NBA Finals against Michael and the Bulls back in 1996.

Subscribe to our Substack community GRP Insider to receive by email our in-depth free weekly newsletter. Opt into a paid subscription and you'll get premium insider briefs and insights from us.
Subscribe to our Substack newsletter, GRP Insider!
Learn more

Support for the Seahawks has always been raucous that they retired the “12th” man

What is fascinating is that the NBA team left Seattle , Washington for Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Seattle is  685 % more densely populated than Oklahoma City.  In 2014 the Seattle metropolitan area had a population of about 3.5 million.  In comparison the entire state of Oklahoma at that time was 3.8 million.  The size of the state of Oklahoma is 181,000 square kilometers.   The size of the Seattle metropolitan area is about  9400 square kilometers.   One confusing aspect of US geography is that many more people world wide are familiar with the city of Washington, D.C.  (District of Columbia)  than Washington State  ( 185,000 sq kilometers ) where Seattle is.  Seattle, Washington and Washington, D.C.  are  on the opposite sides  of the map.  One is in the Northwest corner of the country and as the other is in the vicinity of  the Northeast corner.  About as far away as you can get from  another city (3700 km)  and still  claim to be in the “north” of the US.   For the record, the only major professional sports team to call the state of Oklahoma its home is the Thunder. They also have minor league baseball, women’s soccer and G league basketball.


What mandated the exodus of the Seattle Supersonics to that urban metropolis known as Oklahoma City was an issue that Philippine sports fans know very little about. The battle between public and private funding of an arena.  In the Philippines it is all about MVP when it comes to sports since epal comes natural here. The only sports league in the world where the fans are expected to be loyal to advertisers. What the Philippines also knows little about is the climate of a sports town.  They know that Los Angeles has the Lakers and whatever cities LeBron and Shaq played in their careers. To a pinoy the sports identity  of a US city is only based on its NBA team.   Boston can win championships with the Patriots, Red Sox and Bruins but they will only be aware of the Celtics with Garnett and Pierce. Actually the term “sports” as in plural  is a misnomer since   pinoys only recognize one team sport only.  I also mentioned before that there are only three venues in the whole country that holds the nation’s attention on a regular basis and they are all in the same city. The idea of Imperial Manila also holds true in whatever passes for  sports interest there is in this country.


This article claims that there has always been a movement to bring the Sonics back to the NBA. Currently the Seattle sports scene does very well for a city in the West that is not in California with the Seahawks, Mariners and the Washington Huskies football program.  I will never forget my first time checking out the bars that were humming at lunchtime on a Sunday game day for the Seahawks.  These bars were on a main street  leading to the Kingdome. You could cut the buzz with a knife. Right now there is no big league pro sports team to watch in Seattle in the dead of winter. In between football ( the fall sport) and baseball ( the summer sport).

Support for hockey in Seattle has been great even if they are not in the NHL.

What may be surprising is it looks like the NHL (National Hockey League) will beat the NBA to Seattle speaking  of winter sports. The NHL already voted 9-0 in favor of the Seattle group in October. The Seattle city council also approved approved lease and development agreements for what will eventually be the venue of the new hockey team. A realistic timeline for when the puck drops for real on an NHL season in Seattle will be either 2020 or 2021.  It should be noted that Seattle for decades  has only had junior hockey and the nearest big league team is  across the border in Vancouver.  Back in March there was a drive for deposits on season tickets and it took 12 minutes to sell all 10,000 available.  

Huh? A city better known for hydroplane racing will get a big league hockey team?

Seattle is a hub for aeronautics and tech. It is known to be the head office of Microsoft, Boeing, Starbucks, Amazon, Nordstrom ‘s and Nintendo of America .  NFL Football thrives , NCAA Football thrives, Major League baseball is now in its 41st year there, others see Seattle as a US soccer hotbed  aside from the success of the local Seattle Sounders.  Millenials will have a hard time remembering the glory days of Jack Sikma, Gus Williams, Downtown Freddie Brown , Shawn Kemp, Michael Cage and even Gary Payton.  Seattle is the only contemporary American city that has NBA history with a championship but no team.

The NBA has the best TV ratings in the US among any league not named NFL. They are popular in places like China and are the only foreign pro sports league as far as the Philippines is concerned.   The venue issue drove the NBA out of Seattle but that same issue was hurdled by a non existent big league hockey team. Weird that with all the things Seattle has going for it and  all the other sports have a significant presence in that town while the banished NBA is still on the outside and barely looking in.  Pro basketball currently impacts the Seattle sports scene as much as pinoy basketball players historically  impact the NBA.

18 Replies to “The NBA Is Irrelevant In Seattle”

  1. I had passed thru Seattle, Washington, U.S.A., in my travels; but I have never toured the city.

    It is the stopover, when you go for a trip to Alaska !

    1. Well according to the current San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich he said that there’s no basketball anymore & NBA is becoming more boring:

      He might be right! NBA is now becoming lame unlike in the 1980s-early 2000s eras & we REALLY miss these past superstars like Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul Jabar, the Bad Boys Pistons, Micheal Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Larry Bird, Shaq & Kobe, their play & styles are very entertaining & serious. But after these stars had retired on the NBA, it became a lousy entertainment that is worst than WWE & Koreanobelas combine [sorry Lebron, KD & the Splash Brothers]. ? Yeah, seriously.

      But there might be a light at the end of the tunnel & who knows, probably in the coming of a new decade [2020s] & if a new NBA Superstars that will replace the current ones like Lebron, KD, James Harden, the Splash Brothers, etc. & they could give a promise that they will give a better sports on the NBA unlike today’s era, then NBA is on the rise again.

  2. Seattle only?

    I think it’s all over. The NBA is not as popular in the US as many Filipinos make it out to be. It’s popular, yes, but not in a way that the nation is so crazy about it just as Europeans will all tune in to watch the UEFA Champions League final. I’m biased as I’m more of a soccer fan but I think the Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers have more potential to become bigger team franchises in the northwest than any NBA team.

    1. I was listening to some guest on an ESPN talk show who was not a soccer guy but just gushing about the atmosphere and crowd spirit at Timbers games. I should had added that in my piece. The fact that pinoy “sports fans” are so alien to the idea of a home game. Everything is neutral site.

    2. Yeah NBA or the whole basketball itself is just a 2nd most popular sports in the US and the Americans are still in favor of American Football or NFL, their national sports.

      However there are some countries outside the US that NBA is very popular like here in the Philippines & the two Baltic states namely Latvia & Lithuania where basketball is their national sports rather than soccer/football & then China where there’s a huge market there thanks to their massive population.

      1. Even though I did want to make a point I did my best to represent everything fairly. There was a rich tradition of the Sonics and there is a movement but I did bring out the facts of the other sports and their presence and the upgrade of hockey . I did not mention it there but I have seen the Sonics several times but not in Key Arena. I have been to Seahawks and Mariners games in the Kingdome era. Basketball is popular but only in the country that produces James Yap is it the dominant sport. I brought up the presence of those companies in Seattle to show what a viable market it is for anything compared to Oklahokma City. My next question I have had for a while and I never Googled it and you reminded me of it. Eddie Vedder is a die hard Chicago Cubs fan. Why??

        Durant is a fascinating case because for all his talents he has rabbit ears and onion skin. He has burner accounts. Well at least the talking heads have found a way to make speculation of Durant to the Knicks somewhat interesting.

    3. Interxavier,
      The UEFA “Champions” League is very predictable with the likely usual suspects ending up in the quarter finals. So I would not and will not be surprised when TV audience will go down and maybe also stadium attendance. The element of surprise is totally gone. Commerciaslly not very interesting but UEFA should go back to the format it had in the 60s, 70s and 80s before they founded the “Champions” league.

      1. Viewership and match attendance is still pretty high despite the league being dominated by Real Madrid and Barcelona for the past five years. The recent final between RM and Liverpool had more or less the same ratings as the one before. As to whether interest has dwindled down or not, there are signs of it slowing down but I can’t say it will be on a decline, especially with Real Madrid not having a good season as of late. You want to talk about predictability, look no further than the Bundesliga and Ligue 1. The same teams basically win the title every year.

  3. Nice blog that you wrote it, Gogs. And this is my “stress relief” on hearing dirty politics & cultures in our country.

    Anyway, you’d forgot to insert a caption below the scenic picture of Seattle that you’d posted here, besides the city is famous for hydroplane racing, it is also famous for grunge rock music which is very popular in the 90s & many of the Seattle grunge rock band that dominate into the music world at that time like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice In Chains, Stone Temple Pilots, etc.:

    Man, I’d really missed those guys & they’re the reason why Seattle became a popular US city as of today or else that city will be a joke.

    Anyway again, back to the topic on basketball in Seattle & I just want to make a comment on it. Yes, there’s a campaign that Seattle is bringing back to the NBA but not at this moment. That’s because there’s a news that the original home court of former Seattle Supersonics, the KeyArena is now on a renovation & it won’t complete until by the year 2020 or 2021 & maybe either on those year that city will finally bring back to the NBA after the controversial relocation of former Sonics to OKC & became OKC Thunder in 2008 [thanks to the so-called Sonicsgate scandal].

    And then Kevin Durant said that he is willing to go back to Seattle if a new team will introduce it but there’s a drama going on to him especially when he’d joined with Golden State Warriors in 2016 & he’d got 2 NBA Finals Championship (2017-18) & there’s a speculation that his teammate & Defender giant, Draymond Greed are having a feud lately & his contract to GSW will expire next year & he’ll became a free agent after the 2018-19 regular season & I doubt that he’ll won’t renew his contract there because of that incident. Since Seattle won’t bring back to the NBA yet due to the ongoing rehabilitation of Key Arena, then KD might probably took his talents to LA Lakers on the next season as what had been speculated, or probably better yet & this will be a controversial one, there’ll be a trade agreement between GSW & Houston Rockets on whether KD or Draymond Green will be traded for Carmelo Anthony. That will be interesting! ?

    1. They do not have loyalty to their states that groomed them to be good basketball players …
    2. They are for sale … they go to teams that offers the best package …
    3. They are arrogant …
    4. They are pompous …
    5. They end up in jail …

    1. Let’s use your logic.

      1. Ali should have never fought outside of Kentucky. John McEnroe should only play in one tennis event the whole year. The one in Queens, New York. Kareem Abdul Jabbar should have played for St Johns or New York University ( which is not even on the basketball map) instead of UCLA and the great coach John Wooden. He should somehow ignore the fact Milwaukee drafted him and play for the Knicks his whole career. Wayne Gretzky should have stayed in Ontario instead of Indianapolis, Edmonton, LA and New York.

      2. The best engineers , architects, lawyers are not for sale. They totally ignore attractive financial offers.

      3. arrogance is a trait only known to big time athletes. In the Philippines, even small time tambay , kanto boys are arrogant.

      4. pompous is a trait only known to big time athletes. In the Philippines, even small time tambay , kanto boys are pompous.

      5. US jails are exclusively filled with athletes. You will not find drug dealers, doctors, lawyers, actresses, talk show hosts, elementary school teachers and police in there. The way you talk the incarceration rate of athletes is over 80%.

    2. 1. States that groomed them? University where they studied or where they were born/grew up? What if there’s no franchise in that state they were in, does that mean they have no right or choice to play? Loyalty is overrated. You can say you are loyal to the team and to the city but then management decides to trade you for somebody else. How’s that for loyalty? Don’t even get me started with free agency, it’s there for a reason so that these players will have the freedom to choose which city/team they wish to play in. NBA at the end of the day, is a business as much as it is a sport. It’s a lot like any regular job. You can be loyal for as much as you want to the company but I’ve seen people get laid off for bullshit reasons despite that.

      2. They negotiate the terms and conditions just like anyone looking for a job. Not all teams can afford them anyway due to salary cap and luxury tax and all the other things that is to be negotiated upon. Teams have to worry about rotations as well, starters, bench players, two-way contract players, rookies, veterans, all-stars.

      3. Arrogant, how so? Did you have first-hand experience with their arrogance? Maybe you caught them at a bad time. With all that money, sure they can be, but they do give back don’t they? Maybe you see being rich and famous as being arrogant when you don’t even know them personally.

      4. Pompous, well they can and it is by choice. They’ve made it in their sport. Aren’t we all guilty of doing this sometimes?

      5. There are former NBA players who did end up in jail or broke. But, you’ve basically generalized every single one of them with this statement.

  5. Seattle for me is either Starbucks or the space needle building, and the latter many people probably only got to know of when it got appropriated as a spaceship in Men in Black 2. Too bad people’s knowledge of the world often relies on TV and movies, which are at times bad sources.

    I wonder, is Seattle quite the contrast to the town featured in Friday Night Lights?

    1. Seattle is a nice city. TV and movies though are there to do one thing. Entertain an audience to justify their budget. For example I love Dexter which is set in Miami but shot in California. For those who haven’t been there, that is a long way away. I love football and I told you I have the book Friday Night Lights. I have not seen one episode of the show though some were really hooked. That is small town Texas. Nothing like even suburban Seattle.

  6. Experience has shown, and a true philosophy will always show, that a vast, perhaps the larger, portion of truth arises from the seemingly irrelevant.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.