Seattle Supersonics: Gary Payton Honor a Prelude to Something Special

With Gary Payton having his jersey retired by the Seattle Sports Commission, how soon before the official event takes place at a Seattle Supersonics games?

There were plenty of highlights at Wednesday night’s 82nd annual Seattle Sports Star of the Year awards. However, the best moments came courtesy of someone who Seattle Supersonics fans hold in high esteem to this very day.

As reported by Matt Calkins of The Seattle TimesGary Payton was on hand to accept the Royal Brougham Award for lifetime achievement. However, even that was secondary to the unofficial but still special moment of the Seattle Sports Commission retiring his jersey.

As the crowd at the Paramount Theater let out a rapturous applause, Payton’s number 20 was unveiled. Adding even more significance to the event, his jersey was flanked by Lenny Wilkens‘ and Spencer Heywood‘s numbers.

Of course, this leads to the question of when the official ceremony will take place? As reported by SportspressNW’s Art Thiel, Payton said: “I wish we could have it for real with the Sonics.

“I won’t let Oklahoma city retire this jersey. Seattle has the 12th Man – you all were the Sixth Man for us.”

While there is still a long way to go, recent developments seem to indicate the city of Seattle is finally getting serious about resolving the arena situation. However, I still have my reservations about using KeyArena, whether it’s renovated or knocked down and rebuilt.

Don’t get me wrong, there were many special moments involving the Sonics over the years, but that’s in the past. Chief among the current issues is resolving the traffic situation, especially with Light Rail not expected in the area until around 2038.

In that respect, Wednesday was also newsworthy for Chris Hansen and company formally submitting a new petition to the Seattle Department of Transportation. Once again, they’re requesting a vacation of a section of Occidental Avenue South, to allow for construction of the SoDo Arena.

Key revisions in the petition included confirmation that the Arena will be 100 percent privately financed, while contributing an additional $1.3 million towards traffic improvements. The petition, signed by Hansen, Wally Walker, brothers Pete and Erik Nordstrom, and Russell Wilson, also said their will be no vacation unless and until an NBA and/or an NHL franchise is acquired.

Now, it should be noted City Officials will not be considering the resubmitted petition until a decision is made about KeyArena. But before anyone gets too concerned about this matter dragging on (even more), there is a June 30th deadline for the decision to be made.

In the meantime, Hansen and his colleagues are putting the pressure on, and making it more difficult to justify not building a new Arena in SoDo. (Last time I checked, it was called the “Stadium District”.)

In reality, there is still a long way to go with this whole process, but you get the feeling we are ever so gradually headed in the right direction. As a result, the dream of seeing Payton have his jersey number officially retired during a Sonics game, has taken another step towards reality.

We know the Sonics will eventually return, but when? Realistically speaking, how soon do you think it will be, before Seattle has a new NBA franchise? Share your thoughts in the comments section.