Consider the following then ask yourself: How can this be?
In the geographical area that’s come to be known as Cascadia, there are four franchises in the big four professional sports leagues and two others which, sadly, are no longer with us. The four which are extant are in their fifth decade of competition.
Together, those four teams represent just under 160 seasons. Together, they’ve won exactly one championship, the Portland Trail Blazers’ NBA crown in 1977.
OK, a second championship was procured by the NBA’s Seattle SuperSonics in 1979, who represent their own tale of woe. But if you’re a professional sports fan in the Pacific Northwest, that’s it. Two championships, none since 1979, which means if you’re 34 or younger, you don’t know what a victory parade looks like and you certainly don’t know what it feels like.
Riots, however, we have covered.
“We all sense it,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said at his press conference this week. “We know what’s going on.”
Do you, Pete? Do you really?
The Cascadia curse isn’t as well-publicized as, say, the Chicago Cubs’ curse or the misery which has befallen the city of Cleveland. But it’s there and, if you’ve followed professional sports in our part of the world, you know it’s real. On any number of occasions the Seahawks, SuperSonics, Trail Blazers, Mariners and, yes, your Vancouver Canucks — sorry, can’t really count the Grizzlies — were poised to deliver the big win and each time, Lucy Van Pelt pulled the ball away.
It now falls to the Seahawks, who are one win away from the Super Bowl, to reverse the curse. The Seahawks have been around since ’76 and never won a championship. The Mariners have been around since ’77 and never won a championship. The ’Sonics won one but, wouldn’t you know it, they’re no longer around.
Now, they’re all in for the ’Hawks in Seattle, and the 12th man has become as much a part of this team’s story as Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch and that wonderful defence. Carroll loves this. So does his team.
You just wonder if they can stand another heartbreak in the Emerald City.
“The message for (Seahawks fans) is, Come on, let’s do it again,” Carroll said. “Our following has been extraordinary. We’re very blessed to have so much love and care for this team.
“All I’ve asked is, Let’s go out and have some fun. This is the last game of the year. We want to go out in a big way.”
Note that last sentence has a double meaning.
The 12th man, of course, believes a Super Bowl win is the Seahawks’ manifest destiny in 2014 and, for most of this season, the team has looked the part. But, following a comprehensive beatdown of the New Orleans Saints on a Monday nighter in Week 12, the ’Hawks have looked ordinary. They finished the regular season 2-2. They were underwhelming in their playoff win over the Saints. They now confront their blood rivals, the San Francisco 49ers, in the NFC championship, and no one in Seattle wants to hear their team looks vulnerable.
Instead, they cling to the belief this is the year they’ll be delivered.
Sound familiar? Hate to sound like Debbie Downer, but it should. Since the SuperSonics’ championship season, every Cascadian team has had a shot at glory and all failed, some spectacularly.
The Trail Blazers looked like a dynasty in the making before Bill Walton’s feet gave out. Then they passed on Michael Jordan. Then the Clyde Drexler team lost two NBA finals. Then they passed on Kevin Durant.
Now they’re largely irrelevant.
In the ’90s, the Mariners had a team with Ken Griffey Jr., Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson, Jay Buhner and Edgar Martinez. They couldn’t win a World Series. In 2001, they won a record-tying 116 games in the regular season and were bounced by the Yankees in the ALCS. They haven’t been heard from since.
After their championship season, the ’Sonics got close with Shawn Kemp and Gary Payton. Then they didn’t and, in 2008 they took Durant and moved to Oklahoma City with the NBA’s most exciting team. The Sonics’ ghost still haunts the city.
The Canucks you know about — 42 seasons, no Stanley Cups — and there’s no reason to kick that carcass again.
As for the Seahawks, their existence was largely mundane until their run to the Super Bowl in ’06. Carroll has since taken over and built a team which this region has embraced unconditionally. There are great players on both sides of the ball. They are exciting to watch and there isn’t a better atmosphere in the NFL than the CLink.
On Sunday, it will all be there: the passion, the fire and, yes, the desperation. After 34 years, you might say they’re due. If it’s not too much to ask, we’d like a piece of the fun.
“It’s a great time for us,” said Carroll.
Better still if they win.
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