Sports are big in the Northwest right now. On Friday we talked about the exciting Olympic Track and Field Trials that are happening at Hayward Field in Eugene right now. There is no doubt that running is a passion for many Oregonians. Independent sports, like running, seem almost more popular than the big team sports here. (Some would say this is partially due to our lack of a baseball or football team).
But this might be changing. Pro basketball is making a comeback. The Blazers, whose team members were once known more for run-ins with the law than shots at the basket, are quickly turning into a serious winning team. Brandon Roy, the rookie of the year only two years ago, wowed fans this year. Greg Oden, last year’s first overall pick, is set to finally play in the 2008-2009 season after microfracture knee surgery. And just days ago the Blazers picked up Jerryd Bayless, the quick-shooting University of Arizona freshman guard.
Meanwhile just a couple of hours north on the I-5 basketball could be headed towards a very different future — in a different time zone. The Seattle Supersonics‘ owner, Clay Bennett, wants to move the team to his hometown of Oklahoma City. But the city says they have to stay until their lease expires in 2010. A federal judge is due to issue a decision on Wednesday.
The Blazers and the Supersonics have been rivals for 40 years. Could it be coming to an end? What could a Sonics move mean to the future of the Blazers? Could Blazermania travel up the coast? Traditionally Seahawks and Mariners fans have driven north from Portland to watch their team play, but few have traveled the opposite way. Could that change? Might the Blazers become the team of the Pacific Northwest? Or would everyone be better off if the Sonics stayed and the rivalry continued? What do you think about the future of basketball in the region?
Mike Golub, chief operating officer of the Portland Trail Blazers
Steve Duin, columnist for The Oregonian
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OPB | Feb. 22, 2017