Forever Green And Gold: One-on-One With The Director Of "Sonicsgate"

Sonicsgate
Courtesy of Jason DeCrow
The Glove accepts the love for the "Sonicsgate" documentary with director Jason Reid and executive producer Camp Jones at the Webby awards.
A true labor of fan dedication, "Sonicsgate: Requiem for a Team" traces the history of the Seattle Supersonics from its early championship era to the politics that led to the franchise's relocation as the Oklahoma City Thunder. The documentary won a Webby Award for Internet achievement in the sports-video category recently. Sonics legend Gary Payton accepted the award on behalf of the production crew. We caught up with director Jason Reid shortly after the festivities to get his thoughts on The Glove and moving on as a fan:

Was the sale and move of the Sonics a perfect storm of bad luck, or do you think it’s relatively easy for any mid to small-market city to lose their franchise?

I think that the move of the Sonics was a perfect storm of not only bad luck, but political malfeasance, corporate greed, lies and betrayals, and promises broken. I also believe that the NBA set a very dangerous precedent with how the handled the situation in Seattle, the precedent That No Team is Safe, especially mid to small-market cities. If it could happen to Seattle it could happen anywhere. We had 41 years of history, a championship, and despite what the NBA and Clay Bennett want you to believe, we have an amazing fan base who supported this team through a string of bad owners and years of mediocrity, which ultimately led to the Sonics drafting Kevin Durant.
How did you first get in contact with Gary Payton? Walk us through how you prepared to get him to accept the award and deliver the acceptance speech at the awards ceremony.

We spent months trying to track down Gary Payton for the film before finally getting ahold of him through his agent [which was] only after they had seen our trailer for the film, only a month before the premiere. Gary said he would be willing to do the interview if we could be in Vegas the next day. We promptly booked a flight and the next day we were at GP's house! We decided that we'd stay in town that night -- just in case he wanted to go out on the town. Sure enough, as we were about to leave he asked, "What are you guys doing tonight? Wanna come out to my fantasy football party at the MGM Grand?" Giddy as schoolchildren we quickly accepted his invitation.

We ended up hanging out with GP, his wife Monique, and their friends and family for the whole night, and everyone had a blast. So when the Webby awards came up, we asked him if he would be willing to deliver our five-word acceptance speech and he was more than happy to come to NYC to help the cause. We prepared the five words with the Glove in the limo on the way to the event, and then again at our table before going on stage with his wife and daughter. They kept on giving him unsolicited advice to which GP, playfully reminiscent of his trash talking days on the basketball court, assured them that he had the five words down. We also agreed to take our time on the stage (watch the video to see GP strutting to the mic) and deliver the message that everyone associated with the film, the Sonics, and the City of Seattle wanted to hear: Bring Back Our Seattle SuperSonics.

What happened to Squatch? Would you be up for having him roam as a free agent mascot much like the Famous Chicken?

First of all, if you watch Sonicsgate through the end credits, you will see that the movie is dedicated to Squatch. But it is funny you mention him. We were thinking about tracking down the old Squatch outfit and bringing him along to the Webby Awards with us to accept our award, but we couldn't make it happen. Last I heard, he was spotted hitchhiking outside of Kansas City. I'd be into him roaming around like the Famous Chicken. Anything we can do to help preserve the history of the Seattle SuperSonics.

What’s your reaction to the success of the Seattle Sounders?

The success of the Sounders has been fun to watch, but for me it in no way replaces the Sonics and NBA basketball. That's my sport, that's where my love is. Soccer is great and I'm really happy that so many people in Seattle have embraced it, but I want to see LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, and the other great NBA athletes playing in my town during the cold, rainy winter months.

I think the success of the Sounders though is a testament to how great a sports city Seattle is. If we can support the Sounders at this level, I have no doubt that when NBA basketball returns to this market, it will be embraced with the same excitement.

Do you still follow the NBA? What advice do you have to give for Sonics fans who want to pull for a new team?

I am still an avid fan of the NBA, despite what happened in Seattle. In fact, I still subscribe to League Pass and am in a 20-team fantasy league with many of the guys who put together Sonicsgate. It is, and always will, be my favorite sport. I tried to attach to the Blazers because they have guys with Seattle ties (Nate McMillan, Brandon Roy, Martell Webster) and geographically are closest team to Seattle, but it wasn't the same as rooting for the Sonics. So I drifted, following Denver, Memphis and a few other teams, until I finally decided to just root for overtime. It's much easier.

What should an ownership group who wanted to bring an NBA franchise back to Seattle do to get in the fans’ good graces?

I think there are still bridges to mend between the NBA and the city of Seattle, but if a new owner steps up (say, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer), I think they will be embraced with open arms. It would be a civic gesture on their part to restore the history and legacy of the Seattle SuperSonics and I feel like that's what everyone wants, so I don't think it will be as hard as it seems.

That being said, I think the NBA, not necessarily the new owners, has a lot of work to do in this community. David Stern insulted this community for years in the way he handled the Sonics situation and there are a lot of people who want nothing to do with a league run by someone who disrespected our fan base in the way that he did. I think a formal apology and addressing this issue directly by the league and David Stern could go a long way to restoring people's faith in the league.

If the Seattle area had a new team but it was located in [the nearby city of] Renton, what would you propose calling it?

Seattle SuperSonics -- always and forever! We need to restore the history (including the name) of this great organization and as long as it's in the greater Seattle area, they will be known as the Seattle SuperSonics. Period.