The Washington Post

Martell Webster has ‘high hopes’ for NBA’s return to Seattle

Martell Webster is excited at the prospect his home town, Seattle, will again be part of the NBA. (AP)

For those who follow Martell Webster on Twitter, the veteran swingman doesn’t leave much doubt about where he’s from.

When the Wizards arrived in Los Angeles after their thrilling win in Denver early Saturday morning, Webster sent out a photograph of his cellphone, which showed the time of arrival – 2:06 – or the area code of his home town, Seattle.

When the Seahawks lost to the Atlanta Falcons in the NFL playoffs, Webster posted a picture of himself in the locker room wearing a Seahawks cap and shirt with the letters, “RUN-SEA.” He added the message, “Seahawks to the death of me.”

So it wasn’t hard to assume that Webster would be thrilled to hear that a group led by Chris Hansen and billionaire Steve Ballmer purchased the Sacramento Kings for a reported $525 million with the intent of moving them to Seattle in time for the 2013-14 season.

“High hopes there is a team,” Webster said. “I feel like it was wrong when they left. Took a part of everybody’s heart. The SuperSonics were a part of the heart of the city.”

Webster was playing for Portland when Clay Bennett moved the SuperSonics to Oklahoma City and established the Thunder in 2008. The Trail Blazers became the league’s lone representative for the Pacific Northwest, but Webster never felt comfortable about the loss.

“If any city in this country deserves a team, it’s Seattle. Because of all the history that the Sonics left. They won a world title, too,” said Webster, who was born seven years after Seattle defeated the Bullets to claim its only championship in 1979. “You’d think that a team that won a title, they’d probably designate their spot in the NBA.”

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson continues to look for a local buyer capable of keeping the team in town and the sale continues to need approval from the NBA Board of Governors. Wizards owner Ted Leonsis is actually a member of the relocation committee, along with Bennett. Owners are expected to vote for a return to Seattle.

Starbucks chief executive Howard Schultz sold the Sonics to a group of Oklahoma businessmen in 2007 and Webster said some fans have never forgiven him. Webster added that he is friends with Schultz’s son, Jordan, who has had to hear negative comments about the Sonics’ departure.

“This is a business and owners get tired of owning businesses and so they sell. That’s the way it is. That’s the beast of this,” Webster said. “But I feel it’s their time to have a team back. It’ll be sad to know that Sacramento lost its team, but whenever there is something lost, there is something gained.”

Michael Lee is the national basketball writer for The Washington Post.



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Matt Bonesteel · January 22, 2013

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