24/7-365. Basketball Lives Here.
When the team got moved to OKC, Kevin Durant had just been named Rookie of the Year and was on the verge of becoming an NBA superstar in just his second season. Russell Westbrook was drafted No.4 overall by the Sonics.
Three years later they were in the NBA Finals. In Oklahoma City.
Imagine the atmosphere in Seattle if that 2012 Miami Heat team were to play the Seattle Sonics in Key Arena instead of the Thunder in OKC. It would feel so right.
Seattle is one of the biggest markets in North America. It’s a bona-fide basketball city. This city has produced over 45 NBA players.
If you keep up with hoops in the Northwest then you know that the game in Seattle, even without an NBA team, has actually grown since the Sonics move to OKC.
Basketball at the grassroots level is bumping in Seattle. The AAU circuit in Washington is one of the best in the country. The growing fan base is hungry for an NBA franchise. The city continues to produce those “Seattle” NBA players.
Seattle hoopers have that flare and swagger to their game that nobody else has. Extremely talented, athletic, authentic, their hustlers. They are street, but also very respectful and intelligent. Their underdogs, but they don’t know that. Their overlooked, but they could care less. They love the game and they are as pure as it gets. The type of dudes who can drop 45 in an open run then do it the next night in an NBA game, making it look just as easy.
When you think of Seattle basketball, you think of one name: Jamal Crawford, the man who sparked a movement and took it upon himself to keep the game alive in his hometown, to fill the void of NBA basketball.
When the Sonics had first moved to OKC, Crawford made a point to put the city on his back and make sure the community doesn’t lose its love for the game.
His Pro-Am, which is set to tip off its most anticipated season this weekend, is the main reason the game has stayed alive in the city.
A lot of folks use the term “give back” to the community, Crawford actually did it and he didn’t have to tell anyone about it. You could just feel the impact he and his league have had on the city of Seattle. Students get in for free. Adults get a day pass for just $5.00. There aren’t many places in the world where you can just pay five bucks or walk in for free at and watch NBA stars and sometimes even megastars play in a game.
He originally launched it through his name, but once it grew it became what is now known as the Seattle Pro-Am. You kind of get the feeling that Crawford was too humble and didn’t feel comfortable having it under his name. He’d rather have the cities name on the chest than his.
Over the past few years Crawford has brought out some of the NBA’s biggest names to the league which is now held at Seattle Pacific University.
Though he hasn’t been an All-Star in the NBA, Crawford is one of the most respected dudes in the league. Fans from all over the world admire his unique game and fellow players praise the hell out of him.
Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Blake Griffin, Chris Paul and Kobe Bryant are among the stars that Crawford has brought out to electrify the city that once bled yellow and green.
Everyone from all over the world knows about the Seattle Pro-Am now. It is earning a reputation as one of the best summer leagues in the country.
Fans pack the gym every weekend to watch some of Seattle’s best go at it. The top high school, college and professional players in the area put on a show every weekend for a city that is clearly being robbed of an NBA franchise.
This is one of the hottest Pro-Am’s in the country. The atmosphere in the gym is amazing, the competition is intense, and the love for the game shines bright.
The most exciting part about it is that you never know who’s going to show up. Last year, Crawford made an announcement on his Twitter that there would be a game played at 12 am which would feature some serious star power. There was a six block lineup outside of SPU just to get in. The gym was packed to the roof.
— Jamal Crawford (@JCrossover) August 22, 2014
The fans here have learned to appreciate the game more than ever. With this league, Jamal and his team have given hoop fans in the city something to look forward to every summer. You have people driving in from Oregon and Canada every weekend just to get a glimpse of the action.
Last year Kobe Bryant came to watch and Crawford went off for 63 points. It was electrifying in that gym.
The NBA will be back in Seattle one day. It has to be. But this league is going to be a reason it’s return will be more powerful and bigger than ever. The Seattle Pro-Am is turning this city into a monster basketball city and things are only getting started.
But if it doesn’t return in the next five years, it won’t be the end of the world. The game will still be in good hands. Cities have lost NBA teams before and it’s led to a major falloff for the love of the game in the community.
But Seattle isn’t one of those cities. Seattle is basketball, and thanks to Jamal and this Pro-Am, the game won’t ever stop in the Northwest.