Super Conflicted

The uncomfortable boosterism in media.

The uncomfortable boosterism in media.

Two summers ago, I was on my feet at Safeco Field only because it was the only way to see. As Felix Hernandez was putting the finishing touches on a perfect game on Aug. 15, 2012, the woman next to me began to weep. Her boyfriend turned to me and said, in a concerned tone, “It’s OK to look happy about this.”

But I struggled with that sentiment, as I did last night, after returning home from watching the Super Bowl with my parents. “Congratulations!” said a friend, who watched the game with my wife. I felt odd about not brightening up, but not as odd as I would have felt fist-bumping my friend over my hometown Seahawks’ 43-8 victory over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XVLIII.
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Seattle Should Fret About the Lakers

Mike D'Antoni Phil Jackson

The Lakers went with Mike D’Antoni over a third tour with Phil Jackson.

This column originally appeared at

As blasphemous as this may sound in these formerly NBA parts, I must admit that I’m worried about the Los Angeles Lakers. I know, I know. Beat El-Lay, and all that. But, conceivably the NBA will be back in Seattle, and we all want to be part of a thriving venture, the better the odds that we have the SuperSonics for at least another 40 uninterrupted years. And for that to happen, it’s essential to wish at least a little positive karma upon the City of Angels.

No matter how much it fancies itself a globally relevant enterprise, the NBA long has been a league that has thrived when its bicoastal American anchors also have. On the Left Coast, L.A. by far is the most meaningful pushpin on the basketball map.

I started covering the NBA when it was pulling itself out of the ashes, previously branded a “drug league” or “too black,” and badly trailing the NFL and Major League Baseball in sports relevancy. It may have re-branded itself as more accessible and fan-friendly, but the NBA’s reanimation came mainly on coattails of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, two polar opposites in style, personality and geography. So the Lakers are my frame of NBA bling reference — Magic to Worthy, Riley in Armani, the Sky Hook, Coop-a-Loops, the Laker Girls, Showtime.
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M’s are SkyWalking in Flirtation with Hamilton

Alone, free agent Josh Hamilton may be too big a risk for the M’s.

This column originally appeared at

David Thompson was 29, had started in the NBA All-Star Game the season before, and should have been at the height of his SkyWalking powers when he took a literal fall from grace in 1984. During a melee with a nightclub employee, he rolled down the stairs at New York City’s famed Studio 54 and right out of professional basketball, his knee a wreck.

Many have argued that Thompson once was basketball’s greatest player, better than his contemporary, Julius Erving, and a precursor to high-flying NBA royalty such as Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. Truth is, by the time the Seattle SuperSonics acquired him in 1982, Thompson was on the decline because of struggles with alcohol and cocaine. He’d sworn them both off, but such was their hold that he and five teammates, after playing a game in Philadelphia, took a cab from New Jersey to chase the high life in Manhattan.

That season was the first of many I spent covering the Sonics for The Seattle Times, so I remember it vividly. Which is why, in another lifetime and another sport, I hope Jack Zduriencik has a Plan B—not just in case the Seattle general manager doesn’t sign Josh Hamilton as a free agent for the baseball Mariners, but in case he does.
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An Imperfect Witness to Baseball Perfection

The celebration in King’s Court after Felix Hernandez’s 1-0, perfect game victory.

My brother Mike is such a devout hacker, he literally lives on a golf course. So when I came back from covering the 1992 U.S. Open golf championship, at famed Pebble Beach, no less, he surmised that I probably didn’t realize how many people would have killed for an assignment that I’d otherwise considered with an almost off-putting nonchalance.

And he was right. To me, that U.S. Open was walking 72 holes in four, grueling days, stalking my former Beacon Hill neighbor, Freddy Couples, who was coming off a Masters championship and at the height of his pro-golf powers. While I remember once thinking it was cool to peer through the fog and see seals ringing the majestic Bay Area course, most of my memories are of early mornings, sweaty afternoons, throbbing calves and once waiting nearly two hours for Couples outside the golfers-only practice area.

That event, which would have chilled the spine of my brother and so many others, simply was work for me.
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