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01-10-2013, 02:58 PM
Join Date: Sep 2008
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Lakers' Fans Would Welcome Old Sonics' Rivalry at the Expense of Sacramento Kings
By Michael C. Jones | Yahoo! Contributor Network – 1 hour 0 minutes ago
Ice Cube had a good day when the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Seattle Supersonics, as he noted in his well-known single that became an instant classic in the early '90s.
Lakers fans felt the same way. It was always a good day for fans whenever that historic rivalry went the Lakers' way. If you lived in Southern California during that time when the games between the Lakers and Sonics were at their peak in the heyday of legends like Shawn Kemp, Gary Payton, Detlef Schrempf, Cedric Ceballos, James Worthy, Byron Scott, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal, then you know how serious their battles on the court were.
With all of the news surrounding the Sacramento Kings' potential sale to an ownership group poised to move the team to the Emerald City, one California city's loss could be another's gain in the form of an intense, yet healthy mutual loathing renewed.
Los Angeles last met the old Supersonics in the postseason in a 1997-98 Western Conference Semifinal playoff series that featured some of the NBA's all-time greats (they've since squared off in the postseason after the Oklahoma City move). Even though Seattle suffered a 4-1 series loss, it showcased some of the game's greats in Payton, Schrempf, O'Neal and a still wet-behind-the-ears Bryant.
Gary Payton, known as a prolific trash-talker, was also his team's best player during Seattle's 61-21 season that year and first place finish in the Pacific Division. In Game 4, he notched 31 points 13 assists and eight rebounds as Seattle to its fell into a deep hole in the series in a hostile environment at L.A.'s Great Western Forum.
Even though the Lakers vs. Oklahoma City Thunder rivalry is good, it's still doesn't have the aura of L.A. vs. Seattle.
When the Lakers went to Key Arena, it was always a marquee event. Even though the Sonics were a middle-of-the-road of the road team in terms of attendance, the building was filled with raging Seattleites when the L.A. visited. Chants of "Beat L.A." could be heard all the way across Puget Sound.
If the Kings move to Seattle, they could legally be renamed the Supersonics once again, and that would in turn renew one of the Pacific Division and NBA's best historic tilts both in name and in substance. Of course things will never be what they were when the teams last squared off when the stakes were high, but if a deal does indeed go through, it'll mean the potential for great basketball games between the two franchises for years to come.
That's a welcome proposition for fans in Southern California.
What about Seattle fans? They're passionate and showed out in force when the team was pulled from them and made their presence known in a number of ways. Incredibly, there were two NBA teams with worse attendance than the Sonics in their final year in 2007-08. The support was always there.
Lakers fans love the rivalry and would welcome it back with open arms. Need proof? Here's one die-hard fan's passionate take on the matter. While it's a shame that it would probably come at the expense of the Sacramento Kings, another great Lakers opponent over the course of history, the Seattle-Los Angeles dynamic is difficult to top.
Cube could probably make it work from a lyrical standpoint, but "The Lakers beat the Thunder" still doesn't wouldn't sound quite right.
Michael C. Jones covers the Los Angeles Lakers and the NBA. He writes regularly for SB Nation and is the Editor of Sports Out West .
You can reach him on Twitter @MikeJonesTweets
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