It may be only a preseason game, but NBA basketball will apparently return to Lower Queen Anne this fall.
According to Ailene Voisin of the Sacramento Bee, former Seattle Supersonics No. 2 overall pick, Kevin Durant, and the Golden State Warriors will play the Sacramento Kings in an exhibition game at KeyArena on Oct. 6. It will be the first NBA sanctioned event in Seattle since the Supersonics were allowed to leave and become the Oklahoma City Thunder following the 2008 season.
Durant has returned to Seattle before and played in charity events, such as Jamal Crawford's Seattle Pro-Am at Seattle Pacific University. He played only one season for the Supersonics before the franchise moved to Oklahoma. However, he's maintained an affinity for the city when he got his professional start.
While the return of Durant to Seattle with a team that may be defending NBA champions would certainly draw the interest from the basketball-starved community, the salty feelings of the city regarding the loss of the Sonics and a failed attempt to move the Kings to Seattle in 2013 will provide an opposite reaction as well.
The loss of the Sonics remains an open wound that will only be mended with the return of a franchise to the city. It certainly won't be absolved with the staging of an exhibition game at an arena the league hammered for years as inadequate for its purposes. However, it still potentially represents the first move from the NBA to mend the Seattle situation. The Warriors have a chance to win a third title in four seasons and have some of the biggest stars in the game in Durant, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. Having that group play in Seattle isn't a completely superfluous gesture.
It doesn't solve the lack of an NBA team in Seattle. It doesn't make up for the loss of the Sonics and the ten years since that the city hasn't had a winter professional sports team to cheer on. It doesn't make up for former NBA commissioner David Stern and Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson scuttling a deal that would have moved the Kings to Seattle in 2013. But it might be the first olive branch from the NBA extended in reaching out to a market it shunned twice in the last decade.