Lenny Wilkens, former Sonics player, coach and executive: "The report that Chris Hansen and his group has purchased the Sacramento Kings...
Lenny Wilkens, former Sonics player, coach and executive: “The report that Chris Hansen and his group has purchased the Sacramento Kings, that’s great news.
“I always felt Seattle deserved a team. I was disappointed when the team left. I think Seattle has proved it could support professional basketball. The team had a rich history. So to see that there’s a chance we’re going to have a team again, that’s great.”
Did he think the deal would come together this quickly: “Not really. I wasn’t sure. People were talking, but you never know how long it’s going to take or what. It’s probably a little sooner than I thought.”
Wally Walker, former Sonics player and executive: “The understatement of the year, it’s fantastic news. It’s a big step, but we’ll leave the Champagne in the bottle. We still got some hurdles to clear.”
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On Chris Hansen: “Chris has taken the initiative and navigated very difficult waters. He gets enormous credit as he will and should.”
Xavier McDaniel, former Sonics player: “I’m happy that a team is coming to Seattle. I wish that it wouldn’t be at the expense of Sacramento losing a team. I was hoping that they would just get a franchise from the NBA, an expansion team.
On it happening this quickly: “I knew it would happen. It was a matter of time and it didn’t take long. I know (Sacramento mayor) Kevin Johnson is still trying to find someone in Sacramento to keep that team there. But you know the league is going to approve the sale (to Hansen).
What did you think when the team left: “Five years ago, I felt really bad. That’s why I wanted to come out and try to help save the Sonics and give everything I had because I didn’t like how Clay Bennett bought the team, then acted like he was going to stay in Seattle before moving to Oklahoma City.
“You’ve got a lot of teams that don’t do very well at the game and I felt like Seattle does very well supporting the Sonics. You don’t take a product from some place that’s very supportive and able to back the team.”
On the Oklahoma City Thunder: “I get a lot of people saying Kevin Durant broke your record, but I never played in Oklahoma. That’s always my response. I’m a Seattle SuperSonic at heart. I’m a Sonic until I die. It just will never be Oklahoma for me. I root for the fans in Seattle. As long as they say SuperSonics, I’m happy.”
Brian Robinson, co-founder of Save Our Sonics group: “I’m just thankful that we have Chris Hansen willing to take it this far. Few people understand how much effort it’s taken to get here and the guy has really been a champion for us.”
On the challenges remaining: “There are definitely some hurdles, but I think Chris is in the driver’s seat now. There’s a lot of reasons for optimism, too.”