The Los Angeles Clippers and the Portland Trail Blazers opened their 2022 NBA preseason with a game in Seattle -- the city many basketball fans still cannot believe lost its NBA franchise in 2008 when it was relocated to Oklahoma and renamed the Thunder.
One of these fans, who also happens to be the owner of the Clippers, is Steve Ballmer and he took the mic at center court before tip-off to deliver a WWE-style emotional speech.
"I am so excited to be at a game in my hometown of Seattle, Washington. I am so excited to see Climate Pledge Arena, this fantastic building, filled up tonight. I am so excited that we are playing the Portland Trail Blazers,” Ballmer shouted as the crowd was getting more and more hyped up. “I have to be honest, a lot of us wouldn't be here if it wasn't for the Blazers. Paul Allen, the founder of Microsoft, got me interested in basketball before he passed, the owner of the Blazers. And last, but not least, I want to know whether you guys agree with me? I want thousands of basketball games in Seattle…if this is a basketball city, damn it, let’s hear it!” Ballmer concluded and got all the fans into a frenzy.
Of course, this has to do with the story that began in 2008 when a group of Oklahoma City investors led by Clay Bennett purchased and relocated the team. Ever since then, fans of basketball and especially of the Supersonics are dreaming of the day NBA basketball would return to Seattle. This story keeps picking up in intensity with each passing year.
The commissioner drops hints
Before Game 1 of the 2022 Finals, even NBA commissioner Adam Silver addressed the issue of NBA expansion. “We are not discussing that at this time,” Silver said, as reported by Sports Illustrated. “As I’ve said before, at some point, this league will invariably expand, just not at this moment.”
While this answer makes it seem that the Seattle faithful will have to remain patient, just the fact that it was mentioned at the highest level has stirred up emotions in a positive way. This preseason game only added fuel to the fire.
To make expansion -- or any NBA-related talks -- even more interesting it is always great to add LeBron James to the conversation. He is rumored to be a part of the group that is in favor of an NBA expansion. Still, the King does not have his eyes set on the city where Shawn Kemp and Gary Payton once reigned as he wants to build a completely new home for an NBA team – in Las Vegas.
"LeBron James apparently is in the pole position, to be the owner of the Las Vegas expansion franchise, when Las Vegas and Seattle which I’m told is going to happen as soon as the next TV deals are in place, that those franchises are going to be added to the equation, which has a whole lot of repercussions including the timing of when LeBron decides to step aside and become an owner, rather than a player," NBA insider Ric Bucher reported.
It sure seems that some exciting times are coming and the possibility of watching regular season and playoff NBA games in even more cities definitely sounds like a great thing that will draw even more fans and provide new highlights and opportunities for the league to grow.