CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Wednesday's NBA news du jour about the Kings' possible relocation from Sacramento to Seattle brought back childhood memories for two Utah Jazz players on the other side of the country.
Earl Watson remembered one of the few times he shed tears as a basketball fan.
Marvin Williams recalled growing up wanting to play for the Seattle SuperSonics.
Though the move isn't a done deal yet, both players are optimistically cautious that their friends, family and acquaintances in the Emerald City will no longer be NBA-less in Seattle.
"I got a few texts about it this afternoon," Williams said before Wednesday's 112-102 Jazz win over the Bobcats. "I'm not going to get my hopes up yet. It sounds like it's pretty promising, but I've got to wait to see."
Williams grew up in Bremerton, Wash., a community outside of Seattle. He grew up as a huge fan of Gary Payton, played hoops in Key Arena in high school and even treated 50-plus loved ones to an NBA career high of 33 points in his last game there with the Hawks in 2008.
"It's always been a dream, for sure, for every player (from Washington) to play in Seattle," he said. "People up there just like their sports."
Tell Watson about it.
The SuperSonics drafted him in the second round out of UCLA in 2001, and he called it "a dream come true" to be mentored by The Glove, who's now a Hall of Fame candidate.
Watson was in his second stint in Seattle when the team left for Oklahoma City in 2008.
"Playing on the last team in Seattle and obviously getting drafted there," he said, "it's always like one of the most special NBA cities of my life, my career."
Watson was torn apart during the Sonics' transformation into the Thunder.
"To watch them leave was hard, to be a part of that was hard. It was difficult. The city definitely deserves a team," he said. "The city definitely loves sports, great fans, I think some of the best fans in the NBA.
"I always thought Seattle was a cornerstone of the NBA," he added. "So whatever happens in their future as far as getting a team I think it would be great."
Like many, Watson is sympathetic to Sacramento's plight. The Kings, especially in their heyday with Chris Webber & Co. in the early 2000s, had some of the wildest and loudest fans in the NBA.
On the other hand, his heart vividly remembers being broken when the Kings ditched Kansas City to move to California's capital city in 1985 when he was a 5-year-old fan.
"With basketball, I only cried a (few) times as a fan — when the Kings left, when Larry Brown left KU and when Magic Johnson retired," Watson said. "I was upset when they left, so I understand in every way. I guess it (is) a triangle for me."
Going back to Seattle's move, Watson felt the worst for the ushers and arena employees who'd been working for the team for 40ish years. He was delighted by the way they "just lit up" when they'd get chances to interact with players for their beloved Sonics team.
"That's who I thought was hurt the most," he said.Comment on this story
The same will be said of Sacramento's arena employees whose hearts have been toyed with by the Maloof brothers for years. The franchise has a long history of that, dating back to moving from Rochester to Cincinnati to Kansas City and Omaha, then just K.C., before settling in Sacramento between 1945-85.
"They were tremendous fans," said Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin, who played in Sacramento from 1995-96. "It would be unfortunate for the community to lose a franchise, the jobs, the people will lose the nights they have at the arena. I thought the fans were very excited about NBA basketball there."
At the same time, Corbin added, the NBA will be excited to be back in Seattle.
"Seattle's a great stop. I know they miss (it)," he said. "The fans were very enthused about the team there. It would be a great addition for the league."