Kris 'Sonics Guy' Brannon
Kris Brannon is serious. Serious about being the "Sonics Guy." Serious about getting Seattle an NBA team back. Serious about the tireless schedule he maintains in pursuit of this goal. And serious about pounding the pavement and delivering a positive message.
Kris 'Sonics Guy' Brannon
But that's just what Brannon has done. Describing himself as a "lifelong Sonics fan," Brannon, who manages Tacoma's Comedy Underground when he's not fighting for the cause, says his Sonics Guy persona -- which he assumed shortly after the team left -- has developed naturally over time. Brannon started by attending "Save Our Sonics" rallies back as the team was being pried from the hands of the city that loved it. From there things only snowballed.
Kris Brannon's mug on SportsCenter
"I went to all the Save Our Sonics rallies. Ultimately, it wasn't enough," says Brannon, who almost seems to take the team's departure as a personal defeat.
"I remember Mayor Nickels laughing at City Hall the day he signed the deal to let the team leave. It was very vexing and frustrating. My favorite team was leaving and here was the mayor cracking wise about it. ... I felt like maybe I didn't do enough. I was just very frustrated."
Once the Sonics officially left town, and after what Brannon describes as a "mourning period," his Sonics Guy persona really started to take shape. Inspired to be a "positive force for bringing a team back," Brannon put on his Sonics gear and headed to Olympia for a Tea Party rally in April, 2009. Not because he was interested in the political message, mind you. Just to get out, be heard, and do something proactive to fight for the return of the team he loves.
"Being a brother and rocking the green and gold, I kind of stuck out," says Brannon of that fateful Tea Party rally, his first official outing as the Sonics Guy.
"I took that single step and didn't look back," he reflects.
Whether he realized it at the time or not, it was the start of something bigger. Weekend after weekend, event after event, Brannon kept going out, kept putting on his Sonics gear, and kept being the Sonics Guy. At first, he says, people didn't get it. Some thought it was all a big joke.
But for some strange reason - probably only attributable to passion, tireless drive and a small bit of craziness - Brannon trudged on, dressed in full Sonics regalia and holding his "Save Our Sonics" sign. Farmers markets, grand openings, fun runs - if people were there, Brannon was there too.
Before long, people started to catch on - started to recognize Brannon on the street, even in the rare occasions when he wasn't dressed in green and gold. People started to appreciate what he was doing, and what he stood for. People started to share their stories and love of the Sonics with him, and he reciprocated.
Brannon carried on, a one-man rally for a cause near and dear to so many.
These days, as he has for the last three-plus years, Brannon says he attends five or six events a week as Sonics Guy. And people love it. Especially with the emergence of Chris Hansen and his investment group, since there's a palpable sense NBA basketball might someday return to our city.
For Brannon, it feels like it's all paying off.
"I'm very happy," Brannon says of Hansen and his bid to build a new arena and bring the Sonics back to Seattle. "People are very positive about the situation. You can feel the momentum turning. There's a great sense of community among Sonics fans."
"We've got the investors, now we just need the politicians to get onboard."
Yes, in case you're wondering, Brannon is happy even with the Oklahoma City Thunder contending for an NBA Championship.
"I've already kind of had my mourning stage," says Brannon. "[OKC is] going to win a championship before we get a team back. I've kind of come to terms with that. I prefer to stay positive and focus on bringing the NBA back to Seattle."
And when NBA basketball does finally return to Seattle?
"I'll still show up as Sonics Guy every once in a while."
Lord knows he will have earned it.