Stripped of Sonics colors, logo, OKC starts over in summer league
ORLANDO, Fla. -- The uniforms arrived in time, black mesh with white stripes along the sides, the words "Oklahoma City" across the front of the jersey and atop a simple NBA logo.
Around the bench, there was barely any SuperSonics green or gold in sight.
And with that, Oklahoma City's latest NBA storyline got off to a simple start.
A week ago, these players would have been called the Seattle SuperSonics. Now, they're from Oklahoma City, nickname to be announced. And on Monday, in the first game of the Orlando summer league, the former Sonics franchise took its first steps along the road of relocation, in a glorified scrimmage for rookies and other young pros.
"It's all happened so fast," Oklahoma City rookie point guard Russell Westbrook said. "It's something you have to live with. It happened so fast. I'm very excited to be in the position I am now."
Oklahoma City lost its summer league opener to the Indiana Pacers 95-78. Earl Calloway scored 16 points and Andre Emmett had 15 for the Pacers, who scored the game's first eight points and never trailed.
But that's not why this game might be remembered.
Other than green trim on the sneakers of Westbrook and Ronald Dupree, and one person on the Oklahoma City bench wearing a pair of Seattle game trunks, the team bore no resemblance to the one that would have been here representing Seattle. Kevin Durant was there to cheer his quasi-teammates on, wearing a simple white T-shirt and the black shorts, not the Seattle gear that thousands of fans in the Pacific northwest bought over the past 12 months.
"Personally, I didn't think we would move this soon," Durant said. "I settled in Seattle, bought a house with my mom, we moved out there with my family. That was my home. But it's a part of the business. We've got to get up and move. I'm looking forward to playing in a new city with new fans and we'll see what happens."
Jeff Green took the first shot in Oklahoma City's history -- OK, so it won't really be memorialized as the milestone moment for the franchise, but it still counts for something -- and clanged it off the rim 43 seconds after tipoff. Maybe it was fitting that he took the first shot, since he took 749 for the SuperSonics last season and the other four starters with him Monday have exactly 29 shots in their NBA careers, all by Justin Williams, none of them for Seattle.
The first basket came 2:15 into the first quarter by D.J. White, who's probably looked at a fair bit of real estate around the country the last two weeks, considering he was drafted by Detroit, traded to Seattle and will play in Oklahoma City.
"Wherever we play," White said, "I think this is a great opportunity."
That sort of attitude makes sense.
Still, it's not like he, Westbrook or anyone else has much choice in the matter.
"I'm very excited to be a Sonic," Westbrook said on draft night.
Well, Westbrook is still excited to be, um, something.
"I don't know what," he said.
He was drafted No. 4 overall by Seattle in the June 26 draft, with NBA commissioner David Stern calling his name an hour or so after the trial that was to decide if the SuperSonics needed to honor the final two years of their lease at KeyArena ended in a federal courtroom in Seattle. The judge in that case was to rule last Wednesday; shortly before her decision was to be posted, Sonics owner Clay Bennett agreed to pay the city as much as $75 million to break the lease.
Oklahoma City is Bennett's hometown.
Soon, it'll be Westbrook's adopted one.
"I just feel for the fans," Durant said. "But I'm still excited to play for Oklahoma City and I can't wait to get there."
For a few days, being a Sonic seemed like the ideal scenario for Westbrook. The 19-year-old native of Hawthorne, Calif., a Los Angeles suburb, spoke of how much he'd enjoy staying on the West coast and being able to have his family still come to games.
But the move shouldn't be such a big deal for Westbrook, at least geographically. No, it's not the Pacific time zone anymore, but Oklahoma City and Seattle are essentially about the same distance from Westbrook's home; Seattle is roughly 1,200 miles north, Oklahoma City roughly 1,300 miles east.
"It's a lot cheaper than L.A.," Westbrook said when asked what he knows about Oklahoma City. "I know that much. That's about it."
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press