Some NBA cities get their start by suffering through years of expansion-team misery. We were spared that with a competitive Hornets team, and if Durant and Co. show up, we'll be spared that again, getting a team that figures to be rough around the edges but getting better every game and quite capable of turning into a contender quite quickly. Sonics mania would surpass Hornets frenzy anyway, being Oklahoma City's own team, but throw in the Durant and Co. kicker, and Bennett's sales job on the Oklahoma public becomes a gravy train. So Oklahoma City's NBA future is quite bright, long as Seattle still yawns at the prospect of keeping its 40-year team. When the Hornets' huddled masses arrived in September 2005, we were so excited to have an NBA franchise hit town, we barely glanced at their record. Good thing. The Hornets came to OKC off one of the worst seasons in NBA history. The 2004-05 New Orleans squadron started 2-29, which meant they were out of the playoffs by New Year's, and finished 18-64. That's historically bad. Since the advent of the 82-game schedule in 1966, only 32 teams have won less than 18 games. Turns out, the Hornets were no 18-64 team. David West became a ballplayer, Chris Paul became the rookie of the year and the Oklahoma City crowd turned into the NBA's best sixth man. Those Hornets won 38 games and sparked a passion passion. The Sonics shouldn't fall into 18-64 range, but no way does Seattle get to 30 wins next season. And we won't even glance at that record. Not because we're NBA novices that will take any poor, tired team, but because the Sonics' future has gone from bleak to bright this summer.
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Seattle rookie forward Jeff Green shoots over Golden State guard Toby Bailey during an NBA summer league basketball game in Las Vegas on July 13. ASSOCIATED PRESS