"I just want to leave y'all with one last thing," Hawes shouted. "Come home, Sonics! Come home, Sonics!"
After a 2 ½-hour NBA exhibition that felt like a celebration of Seattle basketball, Philadelphia 76ers center Spencer Hawes grabbed the microphone and walked to midcourt.
The former Washington Husky and Seattle Prep star, who shaved a silhouette of the Space Needle on the back of his head for this game, led a KeyArena crowd of 5,070 in a postgame rally cry.
“I just want to leave y’all with one last thing,” Hawes shouted. “Come home, Sonics! Come home, Sonics!”
The chant echoed around the building for a few seconds, but it remains to be seen if state politicians in Olympia or NBA executives in the league office in New York — the power brokers who could make Hawes’ demand a reality — were listening.
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“I sure hope those people could see what I saw today and feel what I felt,” Hawes said. “It was real. It felt important. …
“Today proved Seattle will support a team whenever the time is right. It’s a good message and sometimes you need something, a catalyst to get the ball rolling.
“I don’t want to say this is going to be that, but we raised some money for a good cause and maybe this is the first step to bringing the Sonics back home. So in my book, it’s a win-win.”
Saturday’s H206 Charity Basketball Classic, which was the first NBA-sanctioned game in Seattle since the Sonics left in 2008, fulfilled most expectations of the game’s organizers.
The attendance was smaller than expected and a handful of local players who were slated to play — Portland’s Brandon Roy, Detroit’s Rodney Stuckey, Boston’s Avery Bradley and Chicago’s Brian Scalabrine — didn’t. However, Roy and Stuckey made an appearance.
Still there were plenty of stars on hand in a game that pitted Seattle-area NBA standouts against various players from the league.
While former Sonics Jack Sikma and Shawn Kemp coached the home team, Atlanta’s Jamal Crawford — the Rainier Beach High product — thrilled fans with an array of dunks, deft dribbling and showboating.
Portland’s Nolan Smith (15 points) and Minnesota’s Michael Beasley (14) tried to keep the game competitive, but there was no way the League team was going to spoil this feel-good party.
Not with New Jersey’s Terrence Williams (25 points) and Hawes (27) battling for high-scoring honors and the MVP award. And not with Crawford pouring in 25 points and former UW Huskies star Will Conroy adding 22 for Seattle, which captured a 140-122 victory.
“To play in front of the home crowd was good,” said Williams, the game’s MVP. “I really wasn’t sure what to expect, but I’ve got to admit it was a lot of fun.”
Organizers expect to fulfill a pledge and donate at least $100,000 from the game’s revenues to A Plus Youth Program, which helps kids through the Rainier Vista Boys & Girls Club of Seattle.
“It was phenomenal,” said Tavio Hobson, A Plus founder. “I went into both locker rooms and talked to the players. … The guys were already asking me what do we need to do for next year.”
• A five-person panel that included Minnesota’s Martell Webster discussed the chance of an NBA team returning to Seattle. “I think it’s going to happen, but I don’t know how,” Webster said.
• Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer sat courtside. Other notables in the crowd included: Sounders FC’s James Riley, Storm’s Camille Little and Seahawks Roy Lewis, Isaiah Stanback, Deon Butler and Aaron Curry.
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or firstname.lastname@example.org