Applause, outrage as KIRO 7 calls OKC team 'Former Sonics'

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The former Seattle SuperSonics are in the NBA playoffs. KIRO 7 is referring to OKC as the Former Sonics in our newscasts. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

SEATTLE - In coverage of the NBA playoffs, KIRO 7 is referring to the team from Oklahoma as the Former Sonics.

The first use of the term came last month after Former Sonics was written into a Sunday night sports report. Viewers responded well, so the term stuck.

While viewers in Seattle responded well, many fans in Oklahoma were displeased and blasted the KIRO 7 Facebook page with memes and graphics supporting their team.

The SuperSonics started in Seattle in 1967 and played the final season in 2007-08. The team moved to Oklahoma City after the team’s ownership group, led by Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, and the city could not reach an agreement over a publicly funded $220 million expansion and update to KeyArena, where the team played.

The team was sold to an investment group headed by Oklahoma City businessman Clay Bennett, and after an attempt to get tax money to build a new $500 arena in Renton failed, the team announced it would leave as soon as it could get free of its lease with KeyArena.

A grassroots effort to keep the team in Seattle that began in 2006 reached a fever pitch in 2008 when the group Save Our Sonics organized a rally that drew thousands to protest the team’s relocation.

Despite a lawsuit filed by the city to keep the team in the Seattle until the end of its lease in 2010 and the outcry from fans, the team left and began to play as the Thunder in the 2008-2009 season.

Despite the rancor, fans in Oklahoma owe a huge thanks to the old Sonics franchise, radio station KRMG reported. Before their final year in the Pacific Northwest, the Sonics drafted and signed newly crowned NBA Most Valuabler Player, Kevin Durant.

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