NBA Legend Gary Payton Talks Bringing Basketball Back to Seattle (Exclusive)

The Seattle SuperSonics were a popular NBA team that won three Western Conference Championships and an NBA title in 1979. But basketball would leave Seattle in 2008 as the team moved to Oklahoma City to become the Oklahoma City Thunder. In an exclusive interview with Gary Payton, an NBA legend who was a member of the SuperSonics from 1990 to 2003, revealed he's looking to bring basketball back to the city. 

"I'm going to see the Seattle SuperSonics back in Seattle," Payton exclusively told PopCulture. "I'm going to have to make that happen. I keep pushing for that, and I'm going keep pushing for that. We deserve that.  [We] never should have lost a basketball team. Adam Silver is great at that. I think he's still working at that to try to do that. And I think that's going to happen, and I'm going to be a big part of that." 

The big reason the SuperSonics left Seattle is the ownership group at the time couldn't get the funding to update KeyArena. Since moving to Oklahoma City, the franchise won one conference title and has not won a championship yet. Over the years, there have been talks of bringing back the SuperSonics by moving a current NBA team to Seattle or expanding the league with new teams.  

In March, Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell said "the odds are high" for the SuperSonics to return to the city, per Sports Illustrated. He also said, "We're very intentional about it. I chase down rumors and I chase down actual people in a position to make that happen. I feel good about our opportunity."


When Payton was with the SuperSonics, the team was one of the top teams in the Western Conference. In 1996, the SuperSoncis reached the NBA Finals but lost to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. Payton became a star in Seattle, reaching the All-Star game nine times, named Defensive Player of the Year in 1996 and selected to the All-Defensive Team nine times.  After spending 13 years in Seattle, Payton went on to play for the Milwaukee Bucks, Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics and Miami Heat where he helped the team win an NBA Championship in 2006.