SEATTLE -- A day to celebrate what Seattle has produced on the basketball court also became a green and gold reminder of what the area lost with no solid idea of when the NBA might return.
Saturday's H206 Charity Basketball Classic brought NBA players back to KeyArena for the first league-sanctioned event since the messy departure of the SuperSonics for Oklahoma City following the 2008 season.
Fans have remained loyal to the Sonics name with thousands of old jerseys being pulled out from closets for Saturday's game that featured the likes of Jamal Crawford, Martell Webster, Aaron Brooks and Spencer Hawes, all Seattle area products. Brandon Roy was a late scratch from playing in the game.
Earlier Saturday the discussion centered on when and if an NBA team would ever return. Former Sonics star Jack Sikma perhaps summed up the desire to get a team back to Seattle saying, "It's hard to put it all together. That puzzle is tough. I think there is a will, but the way is not clear yet."
The final score was of little interest, even though team "Seattle" beat the "League" team 140-122. Hawes led the Seattle team with 27 points and started a chant of "Come home Sonics!" in the moments after the final buzzer. Terrence Williams was the MVP after scoring 25 points.
About the only disappointment on this afternoon for the 5,000 or so that showed up was the decision by Roy and Rodney Stuckey to sit out the event. Roy, who was used in the promotion of the event, said he was concerned about his surgically repaired knees and that his final doctor's recommendation before the lockout was that he avoid playing in these type of events.
Still, the day was a celebration of Roy and all his Seattle brethren with the SuperSonics front of mind.
While there was a smattering of Washington purple and even a little Portland Trail Blazers red and black, the overwhelming color was the green and gold of the Sonics, despite one courageous fan showing up in a blue Oklahoma City Thunder cap. Even those participating in the game were thrown into the color of the day with the team of Seattle players wearing green and the opposition dressed in white with green trim, and many wearing socks with the Seattle skyline stitched into the top.
Shirts and jerseys from every generation of the Sonics 41 seasons were visible in stands. For those in attendance, the overwhelming question was when a team might return to the Puget Sound even though Saturday's event wasn't specifically a Sonics celebration or a catalyst for getting a team back.
"We all miss the Sonics but it's going to take a lot more than a game like this to get the Sonics back," said event organizer Tavio Hobson said.
The hope of Hobson, director of the A Plus Youth Program that benefited from the game, is that the game becomes a yearly event to showcase the talent the Seattle area has produced in the last decade. Stuckey, Roy, Crawford and Webster all made significant contributions to help put the game together.
Along with celebrating those that came from the area, there was a bit of nostalgia at being back inside the Sonics former arena.
"I'm sitting here and I'm excited to see fans out here. I remember my last game here, I think we lost, but just knowing that this is all my friends and family here. These are people I've played in front of since I was a kid," Roy said. "I think these kids enjoy that. ... That's special and for me it's like 'why can't this city have a team?'"
One of the biggest figures in Seattle's pro hoops future sat at midcourt on Saturday. Microsoft CEO Steve Balmer has been a significant contributor to Hobson's youth program, but he's also considered the lynchpin to eventually bringing the NBA back to the area.
The first step is finding an arena solution, which would likely be in the eastern suburb of Bellevue. There also needs to be a team available to move. None of those on Saturday morning's panel -- that included Sikma, Hawes and Webster -- believe the league is going to expand and is curious how the economic model of the league will look following the lockout.
That could lead to possibilities for the future relocation of a team back to Seattle. It's all speculative, but Saturday's event at least renewed the taste for the NBA game.
"This is giving back to the community, letting the community see the local NBA talent," former Washington star and recent Sacramento draftee Isaiah Thomas said. "We need more events like this."