NBA Columns Aren't Supposed to Be So Sad

Danny Westneat of the Seattle Times, on life in the stands at KeyArena, circa 2008:

Two dozen Seattle police officers stand warily around the KeyArena court, eyeing not the aimless games but the crowd."They're worried that fans are going to storm the court," an usher told me during Sunday's loss to Sacramento. "Does it feel to you like anyone here is about to do any storming?"

It felt like a hospital waiting room when you know the patient is terminal. You sit there hushed. Not much to do but figure out how to say goodbye.

It's over for the Sonics in Seattle. Everybody knows it. It's likely there are only four home games left for this city's longest-lived, and greatest, pro sports franchise.

So I went to one last game. My heart wasn't much in it. I was there ... why, exactly? I guess to pay my respects.

Others are doing the same. Rafael Calonzo, a 36-year-old digital artist, spoke of Sunday's game as if it were a wake.

He first saw the Sonics in 1974, when he was 2. He was a 7-year-old dreamer in Maple Valley when the Sonics won it all in '79.

"That was like a religious experience for me," he says. "But this - it's agonizing. I don't know why I come, why I'm subjecting myself to it, except out of some feeling of obligation. Or nostalgia."