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EDITOR'S NOTE: Page 2, along with ESPN2's "Cold Pizza," is counting down the 15 Most Tortured Sports Cities in America. Kevin Jackson is one of the founding editors of Page 2 and he can trace Seattle's sports misery back to rain from 25 years ago. We also present Seattle's 10 most tortured sports moments.Typical 9-year-olds don't stay up late enough to catch the weather report on the 11 o'clock news. Nor are they usually focused enough to spot storm clouds building on the horizon on an otherwise sunny morning. Thus, I cannot be fully blamed for the events of Monday, June 4, 1979, even though I firmly believe they put a curse on me and every other die-hard Seattle sports fan -- a curse that has lasted nearly 25 years, and counting.
|THE 15 MOST TORTURED SPORTS CITIES|
15. Tampa Bay
14. Kansas City
11. Washington, D.C.
9. San Diego
7. Seattle Want to find out what the No. 6 city is? Tune into ESPN2's "Cold Pizza" next Tuesday morning. Then head back to Page 2 to read all about it.
When I awoke on that June morning, I was happier than Ed Burns at a supermodel convention. The school year had just ended, and I had three months of sleeping in and goofing off in front of me. Plus, my beloved Seattle SuperSonics had just won the NBA championship. Now, my theory on being a sports fan is this: Most kids usually start following sports between the ages of 8 and 10, and whatever team you latch onto at that age will probably be the squad you'll follow for the rest of your life.
|Gus Williams led Seattle to one NBA title, but no Seattle team has been No. 1 since.|
At least, I thought I was. In reality, I was a 9-year-old kid who had followed a team for two years, seen it reach the championship round twice and win it once. I had no idea what it meant to be a long-suffering fan ... but the Sports Gods would soon teach me. My family couldn't afford tickets to any of the games during the Sonics' playoff run, so I looked at the championship parade as my day in the sun. After all, it was free, we lived less than two hours from Seattle, and my grandfather had agreed to take me. What could possibly go wrong? Rain, that's what.
As I bounded downstairs wearing my Sonics championship shirt and hat and carrying the commemorative frisbee that my Dad had bought me the night before, I didn't notice that a light rain was falling outside our home in Sequim, Wash. When my grandpa pulled up in his station wagon, however, I got the bad news. "Kev, it really looks like it might rain all day, and I'm too damn old to stand outside in the rain," Gramps said. "Maybe we should just stay home and watch it on TV." TV? TV? T-freakin'-V?!?!? Didn't Grandpa realize that I had watched my heroes on TV for months? That this was my big chance to finally see them in person? To yell and finally have someone hear me? No, TV would not do.
|Shawn Kemp and the Sonics couldn't stop MJ in '96.|
|Jim McIlvaine received a few facials during his time in Seattle.|
I've seen Shawn Kemp and Vin Baker gain a collective 100 pounds.
I've seen fire ... and I've seen plenty of rain. I thought maybe the curse would be lifted in 1992, when my grandfather passed away. It lived on. I thought maybe things would change when I left the Northwest for Connecticut in 1999. That only allowed me to attend those Mariners' ALCS losses to the Yankees in person. Maybe 25 years will be enough. Maybe next month's anniversary will lift the curse forever. Or maybe those are more clouds I see forming over there on the horizon. Kevin Jackson is the coordinating editor for ESPN.com and a founding editor of Page 2.