By Kevin Jackson
Page 2

A few years back, my wife returned from the tattoo parlor with some fresh ink near her ankle and a burning question for me to ponder:

"Hey, Kev, if you ever decided to get a tattoo, what would it be?"

It took me all of about 10 seconds to come up with my answer.

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"I'd probably get the old Seattle SuperSonics logo," I said proudly. "The Sonics were the first team I ever fell in love with, because they won the city's only pro championship when I was 9. Plus, that logo features the Seattle skyline, and I like that connection to my hometown."

Anybody know whether Oklahoma City even has a skyline?

If you live in any of the following area codes -- 206, 253, 360, 425 and 509 -- this column isn't aimed at you.

You in the state of Washington already know the pain and fear I'm feeling today, one day after the Sonics were sold to an Oklahoma City group that vows (wink, wink) to try to keep the team in the Northwest and says it will exhaust every option (more winking) before moving the club.

No, this piece is for the rest of you sports fans out there. Particularly the group that I was part of before Tuesday's announcement. Before co-workers started coming into my office at ESPN to offer condolences and e-mails of regret started pouring in.

Sonics fans
Ted S. WarrenAP Photo
No, neither of them is Kevin -- but there are lots of sad fans in Seattle today.

"This is as bad as I think it is, right?" asked Page 2 columnist Eric Neel, a Sonics sympathizer from the time he spent growing up in the Northwest.

"You have to write about this," Bill Simmons implored. "You're the first Page 2 editor or staff member to actually lose a team."

It's not a distinction I ever hoped for, but it's one I'm now saddled with (or at least I will be unless some sort of miracle deal saves the Sonics before the end of the 2006-07 season).

And now that I'm on the other side of the fence, Bill's right. It's time I offer my formal apologies to the residents of the following cities: Cleveland, Baltimore, St. Louis, Los Angeles, Houston, Montreal, Charlotte, Vancouver, Buffalo, Kansas City, New Orleans, San Diego, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Hartford, Winnipeg and Quebec City.

Damn, the list is even longer than I thought.

That's the list of every city that has lost a franchise in the four major professional sports to relocation during my sports lifetime.

Until today, I never really paid attention to those folks, ignoring their plight as if they were homeless people I briskly walked past without really seeing.

Oh, I felt bad for Colts fans when their team was stolen from them literally while the city was sleeping. And I sympathized with Browns fans when they lost one of the NFL's proudest franchises, then watched it win a Super Bowl in Baltimore.

But, like most sports fans, I suspect, I didn't give a minute's thought to most of the relocations on the list above.

I just moved on and quickly started envisioning the possibilities for the team in its new city, much like Michael Wilbon of "Pardon The Interruption" did Tuesday night when he said an NBA team in Oklahoma City has a chance to become the "Green Bay Packers of basketball."

Sorry, Mike, but I'm more focused on my own whine than OKC's cheese.

And I gotta think my feeling today is a familiar one to fans in the Emerald City. Although I had read most of the stories, seen all the threats and even scoffed at David Stern's saber rattling, I never really thought the Sonics would leave Seattle.

I figured the worst-case scenario might be the team playing in Bellevue or Renton, two Seattle suburbs … but I assumed they'd always be in the Northwest.

Maybe it was all those years of worrying about the Tampa Mariners or the Los Angeles Seahawks we Northwesterners went through, but something just told me to ignore the stories and not lose any sleep over the political rhetoric. It would all go away eventually.

Now, it appears the Sonics are going away instead.

They'll be leaving an arena that was remodeled just a little more than a decade ago, a building that was described as "state of the art" when I attended the first game there during the 1995-96 season.

I know the team's lease is among the worst in the league, but is this really what pro sports have come to? A team leaving a city that caved in to its arena demands 12 years ago? A franchise leaving a city where it has played for almost 40 seasons to go to the latest "flavor of the month" town on the horizon?

Sonics fans have cheered Slick and Gus, G.P. and D.J., Reign Man and X-Man. We've suffered through the horrors of McIlvaine, the Pippen trade, Dale Ellis' driving, the comedy of players' wives scuffling in front of team headquarters, and Dikembe Mutombo lying on our home floor and lifting the ball to the heavens.

Unless you bleed green and gold, you probably don't care about any of that.

And you probably greeted Tuesday's news of another possible franchise relocation with a giant, apathetic yawn.

Trust me, I know, I've been there and done that many times myself. It's the way of the modern sports fan.

But also trust me when I say this:

It could happen to you. So, don't get any tattoos.

Kevin Jackson is the executive editor for ESPN.com and the founding editor of Page 2. He can be reached at kevin.jackson@espn3.com.




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