The guilt trip will come soon, either about 6 o'clock tonight or in a couple of years, depending on how Judge Marsha Pechman rules in the SuperSonics trial. When the Sonics come to Oklahoma City, most everyone west of Spokane and lots of folks east of there will look at OKC and quote Gomer Pyle. Shame, shame, shame! Shame on Oklahoma City for swiping the Sonics from the loving arms of Seattle. Shame on Oklahoma City for not waiting on an expansion team. Don't buy it. Don't listen to it. Don't let anyone spoil your celebration. Don't let anyone make you feel guilty. Because here's what major-league ballteams do. They move. Always have, always will. Of the 122 major-league franchises in the four historic team sports, 40 have relocated, a total of 52 times. And if you discount the 24 expansion teams that have sprouted since 1992, it's 38 relocations in 98 franchises. There is no divine right to keeping a franchise. A team is not intellectual property, no matter how attached a populace grows. Sports are big business. They've always been big business, in this century and the previous century and even the century before that. The original Baltimore Orioles moved to New York in 1903 and eventually became the Yankees. The original Milwaukee Brewers moved to St. Louis in 1902 and became the Browns, then half a century later filled the void in Baltimore. Eight franchises moved in the '50s, 11 in the '60s, nine in the '70s, seven in the '80s and eight in the '90s. Every city left behind put up a fuss, and railed against the scoundrel owner who engineered the move, and claimed the world is unjust. But franchises aren't forever. Los Angeles has lost three pro football teams in the last 50 years. The Chargers moved to San Diego. The Raiders back to Oakland. The Rams to St. Louis. If the NFL can leave Greater Los Angeles, where's the calamity in the NBA leaving Seattle? The Seattle crowd likes to warn Oklahoma City that if Clay Bennett can put the screws to Seattle, he will do the same thing to his hometown. Maybe. Maybe not. Frankly, I'm not all that interested in a history lesson from a city that built a new palace for the Seahawks and a new palace for the Mariners and then wants to start lecturing other cities, warning them about the dangers of giving into disgruntled franchise owners. I understand the anguish over losing a franchise. Most of America does. Only Indiana cheered when the Colts left Baltimore. Only Tennessee celebrated when the Oilers left Houston. George Shinn made few friends beyond Bourbon Street when he took his Hornets out of Charlotte. But sports fans have short memories. For all the despair over the Dodgers leaving Brooklyn, baseball took to LA and LA took to baseball immediately, and the Los Angeles Dodgers quickly became a brand to rival all but the Yankees. It seemed nutty for the NHL to leave Minneapolis in 1993 for the football-mad Sun Belt, but who today can imagine hockey without a team in Dallas? Who declares the Ravens, a decade after fleeing Cleveland, are invalid in Baltimore? Nationally, no one seems to be paying much attention anyway. Their take is elementary: Oh, the Sonics are leaving for Oklahoma City? That must mean Bennett is a sorry-dog owner. But did you catch ESPN's Stuart Scott during the NBA Draft coverage? He said the "vote” to determine the Sonics' status could come later that night. There is no vote, and it wasn't true anyway. Scott even asked Jeff Van Gundy if the Sonics could make the playoffs next season, which means one of ESPN's primary NBA hosts doesn't have a clue about anything regarding Seattle basketball. When the Sonics come to Oklahoma City, outrage and lament will reign for about 15 minutes. Then everyone will move on. The rest is up to us. Fill the Ford Center and support the NBA and critics will scram in search of another franchise threatening to move. And there will be one to fit that description, because that's what franchises do.
Sonics coverageThe decision on the Sonics vs. Seattle will come today at 6 p.m. Here is how you can learn about it and what it means. •FIND OUT: Go on NewsOK.com at 6 p.m. (Oklahoma time) to find out the decision and stay online to see updated news, videos reaction and analysis. Read Thursday's Oklahoman for more updates about the future of the NBA in Oklahoma City. •LISTEN: NBA beat writer Darnell Mayberry talks about the draft, the decision and free agency in his NBA in OKC podcast on NewsOK.tv.