Seattle SuperSonics Rumors
But it was clear coming back to the town where his NBA career began sparked some emotion within the four-time NBA scoring champ. Because Seattleites aren’t the only ones who fantasize about what Durant could have done in this city — Durant does, too. “When the Seahawks won the title, and I was with the Thunder, and we were playing well, I was imagining how the city would have felt with both teams here,” Durant said. “It would have been electric. It would have been something we’ve never seen before — something no city has seen before. But we can dream, man.”
It ain’t over yet. That’s if you believe property records that show Chris Hansen just completed another big purchase in Seattle’s SoDo neighborhood. According to those records, Hansen — the San Francisco-based investor who’s leading the charge to bring professional basketball back to Seattle — paid $32 million for a warehouse and other connected buildings that border S. Holgate Street. The property, more than 4 acres in size, stretches from S. Holgate Street all the way south to Walker Street. The price paid by Hansen’s company is nearly three times the assessed value. His company, known as WSA Properties, now owns close to $100 million of property in the SoDo neighborhood. One source close to the dealings said, “This is still all about the Sonics.”
Then, in January 2015, he is found and picked up by the Snohomish County sheriff’s office. Swift, squished in the backseat, high, likely has no idea what’s going on. He’s taken to King County Jail in Seattle and placed in a medium-level security cell with 22 other prisoners, with bail set at $20,000. Heroin addicts are usually treated with a tapering program: low-dosage opiates to wean them off the drug. It can take months to years. Swift is afforded no such cushion. He is dosed with muscle relaxants. The rest is up to him. All he remembers of the first dozen or so days is lying on his metal cot, curled up to fit on the frame, head under his single sheet. Vomit rises in his throat every few minutes. He shivers. He sleeps as much as he can. Eventually he comes out of it. He compares the moment with a scene from The Last Samurai, when Tom Cruise’s character sobers up to realize all he’s done. Other prisoners begin to recognize him. Some ask about the NBA. Others give him candy to help with the withdrawal. A thick-chested man with prison tats named Peter, in on a warrant from Oregon, hands him a Bible. “Everything you need will be in here,” he says.
“Robert Swift? I think about him all the time” says Bob Myers, Swift’s former agent and now the GM of the Warriors. Like most everyone I talk to, Myers wants to know how Swift is doing. Not in basketball but in life. “I feel bad I couldn’t help him,” says Voigt. “I hope somebody can.” “He caught the bad side of the business,” says Casey Hill, now the coach of the Santa Cruz (Calif.) Warriors of the D-League. “An NBA athlete who has a lot of money who’s 18 or 19, with parents who’ve taken advantage of him… ” He trails off. “How much pain was he in?” wonders Sherman Alexie, the author, poet, and a key figure in the save the Sonics campaign in Seattle. “How much pain did he carry into the league? Was he doomed to fail?” Alexie, a recovering alcoholic, says he feels “total empathy and hope for his recovery.”
When I finally speak to his parents, it’s after weeks of trying and then only because Rob asks Bruce to talk. He has a new job in Las Vegas, where the couple now lives. He also filed for bankruptcy again this past June, according to public records. On the phone Bruce is cordial but wary. He describes Rob as, “a very caring guy” who is also “extremely smart and extremely stubborn.” Of Rob’s leap to the NBA, he says it was, “his decision, flat out.” Rob’s 20s? “As a parent, you can’t make decisions for him.” And: “He didn’t need me watching over him.” And: “I tried to be a parent and let him have his room.” Their hope for Rob now, he says, is “that he gets where he wants to be. That’s all I can offer now. If he wants to get back to the NBA, I hope he gets there, if that’s his desire. All I can say is, I wish the best for him.” Rhonda declines to speak.
A week later, Scales was waived and never got another shot at the NBA. San Antonio was his fourth and final stop in the league, after he had preseason stints with the New Jersey Nets, Houston Rockets and Seattle SuperSonics. Scales thought he had his best shot at an NBA breakthrough in Seattle. “When I was with Seattle, there was a great write-up about me,” he said. “This is when Rick Brunson had his first guaranteed contract. They had written in the paper that [the Sonics] had a million-dollar question: Do they keep Rick Brunson or Alex Scales? Ray Allen was quoted in the paper saying, ‘Alex Scales is the only one playing like he belongs here.'”
Verdicts from the league office are one thing. Real change in the locker room is quite another. “It’s more about stigmas than anything else, and I think with those stigmas you have people who are going to be judged,” said Sue Bird of the Seattle Storm. “I think on the men’s side, they’re not quite there yet. Jason Collins, for him to do that, particularly in the basketball world, he was the one who kind of broke down the barrier. And maybe in the future, it’ll change. But I think right now there’s still that stigma. I would love for it to change, because it’s really not that big of a deal in all reality. “The NBA moving the All-Star game was a tremendous stand. It’s about the NBA having that platform to create change that needs to be created.”