Kris 'Sonics Guy' Brannon
If all goes as planned, today the King County Council and the Seattle City Council will both formally approve an agreement with Chris Hansen to build an arena in Seattle and bring back NBA basketball to a city that was robbed of it. Perhaps no one has been more dedicated to making this day a reality than Kris Brannon - a man better known as simply Sonics Guy.
Kris 'Sonics Guy' Brannon
Since practically the day the Sonics left town, Brannon has been rallying for the cause - hitting area farmers markets, fun runs, festivals, and every council vote or press conference that's led up to this point, always donned in full green and gold. Along the way, the comedian and manager of Tacoma's Comedy Underground has become a fixture and a local celebrity.
Sonics Guy is hard to miss. And as the fight to bring NBA basketball back to Seattle has raged on, Brannon has been at the forefront of it - and he's been everywhere.
This week for From The Horse's Mouth, we talk to Sonics Guy about his tireless efforts and what bringing NBA basketball back to Seattle means to him.
Seattle Weekly: If the King County Council and Seattle City Council officially approve the arena deal (as expected) on Monday, what will it mean to you personally? What do you expect your emotions will be?
Kris "Sonics Guy" Brannon: To me, it would mean that if you work hard and believe in what you're doing, amazing things can happen. After the team I loved left four years ago, I decided that I would not let the team, or the reasons they left Seattle, be forgotten. A vote to approve the arena will be the fulfillment of the hopes and dreams of a lot of hard working people that made this happen. In over three years of being "Sonics Guy", I have attended over 1000 events, recounting the glory of the green and gold. I like to think that my work over the last several years has helped bring this project to fruition. I expect that on Monday I will be thrilled, overjoyed, ecstatic, and just about every other positive emotion I can think of. Monday will be THE big step towards getting a team back and ensuring a new chapter of NBA basketball in Seattle.
Do you feel like a local celebrity at this point? Do people recognize you even when you're not dressed as Sonics Guy?
Sonics Guy on SportsCenter
People seem to think so. I am recognized everywhere I go. People share their Sonics stories and even their Sonics "wear" (coats, t-shirts, etc.) with me. I am often asked for updates on the arena proposal and how close we are to having our Sonics back. This year I've won awards for Best Local Hero and Best Community Activist. Best of all, the Hansen family seems pleased with my efforts.
When I'm occasionally not donning the green and gold, I'm still recognized by folks. But when you are 6 feet 5 inches tall (6 feet 8 inches with the afro - a Fletch reference) with sweet mutton chops, it's hard to be anonymous.
Even if the deal is officially approved as expected today, there's a good chance the process of acquiring a team will take a while. How will Sonics Guy bide his time until a team can be brought to Seattle? What has the wait so far taught you?
Until a team can be brought to Seattle, I'll still be out there in the green and gold making sure people are aware of what's happening with the arena development and team acquisition. When we do have team, I may become the "Go Sonics" guy. The wait so far has taught me that given enough time and effort, good things can happen.
EXTRA CREDIT: Favorite three Sonics players of all time - go!
1. Gus Williams: I remember watching him on TV winning the championship. He was my favorite player as a little kid. I took my grandfather to the game where they retired his number. The game giveaway was a replica championship ring commemorating the 25th anniversary of the championship team. I still wear this ring today.
2. Lenny Wilkens: One of the last player/coaches, a fierce competitor and a class act. He is probably the player that has done the most for the Sonics on and off the court. He was also on the original committee looking into the arena proposal and is a nice guy to talk to.
3. Shawn Kemp: His electrifying dunks made watching the team in the '90s simply spectacular. I will always remember him dunking over a confused Michael Jordan in the NBA Finals. His support for the Seattle community upon his return "home" is inspiring, not to mention that his restaurant, Oskar's Kitchen, serves great food.