Utah Jazz sad for Kings, but excited about possible NBA return to Seattle
Charlotte, N.C. • The cruel, beautiful game of basketball has made Utah Jazz point guard Earl Watson cry three times. The Kansas City native was 11 when Magic Johnson retired and 8 when his coaching hero Larry Brown left the University of Kansas.
But when the game first made him weep, he was 5. The Kansas City Kings permanently pulled out of Watson's hometown and moved to Sacramento, leaving Watson and other Kings fans sad and bitter.
Much of the NBA celebrated the multiple reports Wednesday that the Kings could be on the cusp of a move to Seattle and resurrecting the defunct SuperSonics. Seattle-area native Marvin Williams, sidelined by an inflamed right knee, finally had something to smile about. Tyrone Corbin, who played for Sacramento but loved road games in Seattle, tried to stay neutral. Watson was contemplative.
"I understand it in every way. I guess it's a triangle for me."
He was drafted by the SuperSonics in 2001. He began his career in the Emerald City and watched basketball die there as a member of the team that moved to Oklahoma City in 2008.
"It's obviously one of the most special NBA cities of my life, of my career," Watson said. "Everything the Sonics stood for, the tradition, the legacy. Being in the league with Gary Payton was like a dream come true. To watch them leave was hard. To be a part of that was hard."
For Williams and a generation of Seattle basketball players, it was as heartbreaking as the Kings' move out of Kansas City had been for Watson.
"It's always been a dream, for sure," Williams said, "for every player out of that area to play for Seattle."
He played in high school tournaments each year at the Sonics' Key Arena, and in two games there as a member of the Atlanta Hawks, had to provide as many as 70 tickets for all of his friends and family members.
On Jan. 25, 2008, he scored a career-high 33 points at Key Arena.
However, Williams tried to contain his enthusiasm about the league's potential return to his hometown.
"I got a few texts about it this afternoon," he said, "but I'm not going to get too excited about it yet."
Corbin played 49 games with Sacramento in 1995-96 before being traded midseason to Miami.
"I remember back in the old days," Corbin said, "even when the team wasn't very successful, people came out to support the team and were excited to have NBA basketball in town."
After a series of flights finally got him to Charlotte on Wednesday morning, Jazz guard Kevin Murphy finally rejoined the team after he was recalled from the D-League a day earlier. With Mo Williams and Marvin Williams both out with injuries, Murphy adds depth to the Jazz's rotation and also rewards the No. 47 pick in last year's draft for what they considered marked growth in six weeks with the Reno Bighorns.
Murphy averaged 13.3 points with the Bighorns. He called the D-League experience "very humbling."
"Everything wasn't given to you like it is up here," he said. "I think it was a good experience for me just to go down there and work hard, keep working, no matter what the conditions was down there."
Enes Kanter was never more popular than in the offseason. He tweeted photos of himself shirtless, working out, and invitations for attractive women to join him at the Cheesecake Factory.
And those efforts didn't go unnoticed. The website HoopsHype.com included Kanter in an online poll aimed at recognizing an NBA "Tweeter of the Year."
"I saw it," the second-year center from Turkey said. "I hope they don't pick me. If they pick me [the Jazz are] going to start looking at my Twitter more."
As of Wednesday evening, Kanter was in sixth place in the poll, behind such prolific purveyors of online wisdom as Jamal Crawford and Metta World Peace. Kanter, however, had received the second-most first place votes (172) behind Crawford's 314.
By Wednesday evening, 1,062 people voted in the poll.
Kanter, who has more than 43,000 Twitter followers, promised that once the season ends, he will return to his former online ways.
"This summer I'll be crazy," he said, "because right now I'm with the team. ... I've got my teammates right here, they don't want me to."
However, if Kanter's dreams come true, his moves won't only be documented on social media, but also by a film crew.
"I want my reality show," he said.