|Fans, players optimistic that 41st opener in Seattle isn't last|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 01 November 2007 22:42|
SEATTLE (AP) -Michael Petrovich didn't plan to be first in line on Thursday night.|
Mostly it was his lack of knowledge about when the KeyArena doors opened that had him first.
But the lifelong Seattle SuperSonics fan could be given a pass. After all, he's spent the last four years living in, of all places, Oklahoma - the destination where most believe the Sonics are headed.
``They'll always be the Seattle SuperSonics to me. They'll never be the Oklahoma City Sonics or wherever they go to,'' Petrovich said. ``They grew their identity here.''
A young Sonics squad opened the team's 41st season in Seattle with a 106-99 loss to Phoenix.
The focus on the floor was rookie Kevin Durant, who scored 27 points in his home debut. Off the floor, there remained the question of what owner Clay Bennett's next move would be.
Bennett had originally set an Oct. 31 deadline to have plans for a new arena in place, otherwise he was going to file for relocation with the NBA, with the hope of moving the team to Oklahoma City after this season.
That process has now bogged down in court proceedings, with the city of Seattle fighting to hold the Sonics to their lease at KeyArena, which runs through the 2009-10 season.
Bennett also backed off his deadline, though only briefly. Bennett was at the home opener Thursday night but did not speak to reporters, and was expected to make an announcement on Friday about the ownership group's next step, spokesman Dan Mahoney said.
Still, there wasn't an overwhelming sense of finality for fans or players that Thursday would be the final opener in Seattle. Bars and restaurants around the arena were packed as usual with fans decked out in green and gold, with a little Phoenix purple mixed in.
Fans brought signs reading ``Trade Bennett'' and ``OKC is not OK.'' Midway through the second quarter and again briefly in the second half, some fans started chanting ``Save Our Sonics!'' while Bennett sat in his owner's suite, chatting with Hall of Famer Bill Russell.
``I believe in our fans. I believe in the Seattle community, because I know they believe in us, despite what might be going on,'' Sonics forward Damien Wilkins said. ``I've seen a lot of ups and downs and I've seen these fans be here and support us.
``I don't feel really different about it.''
Petrovich had a unique perspective. He only moved back to the Tacoma area three months ago from Oklahoma. He attended Hornets games at the Ford Center while the New Orleans franchise was displaced to Oklahoma City after Hurricane Katrina.
When Bennett, an Oklahoma City-based businessman, purchased the Sonics, Petrovich said there was a sense in the community that Bennett and his group would eventually bring the team to Oklahoma.
``A lot of them were expecting that (the Sonics) would come eventually,'' Petrovich said. ``The thing was they didn't know what was going to happen with the Hornets.
``I want to see them in Seattle, that's where they should be.''
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