As the only NBA teams in the Pacific Northwest, the Portland Trailblazers and Seattle Supersonics have enjoyed a good-natured, yet intense, rivalry over the last 38 years. With only 170 miles separating the two cities, there has always been a large contingency of visiting fans at any game to make it even more exciting.
Tonight’s game in Seattle may very well be the concluding game of this incredible rivalry. The Sonics have been threatening to move the team for quite some time. Oklahoma City has come up with an attractive package of arena improvements and tax breaks that the City of Seattle is apparently not going to match. The NBA Board of Governors is widely expected to approve the move next month.
My first real recognition of this rivalry was during the 1978 playoffs. The Blazers had won the NBA Championship in 1977, which is what drew me in as a fan for the first time. The injury-plagued Blazers lost a heart-breaking series to the Sonics–who then went on to win the 1978 Championship. From then on, it was war every time these two teams got together. It was truly exciting to watch or listen to.
We can hope that some last-minute deal with keep the Sonics in Seattle, but it doesn’t look very promising. I’m sure that Seattle will get a new NBA franchise one day–the city is simply too big not to have one. But it will never be the same as the Blazer/Sonic rivalry. As original Blazer radio play-by-play Bill Schonely announcer said “It’s just a crying shame.”