SEATTLE -- Ten days ago, I ran into Brandon Roy on the University of Washington campus and before he even said hello, he asked me, "Are they going to boycott?"
It took a moment to understand that he was referring to the Oct. 14 exhibition game at KeyArena between his team, the Portland Trail Blazers, and the Phoenix Suns, and that he was worried the basketball fans of Seattle wouldn't come.
Frankly, the idea of a boycott hadn't occurred to me. I figured basketball fans, real basketball fans, would enjoy the chance to see some of Seattle's favorite sons again.
I haven't looked at this game as some insulting hoop morsel, a splintered bone thrown our way by the despised hierarchy of the National Basketball Association.
For me, it will be a rare chance to welcome back some of the people who helped make this such a great basketball town. An opportunity to cheer Blazers' coach Nate McMillan, whose Sonics' jersey number is retired.
It is a chance to see Roy again and celebrate the fact that a homegrown product, a graduate of Garfield High, and one of the most outstanding players ever developed at Washington, has matured into an NBA superstar.
If his troublesome foot allows, Martell Webster will return home. I think the absence of his sweet jump shot was the reason the Blazers didn't advance in last spring's playoffs.
This will be a homecoming game. An opportunity for fans to show their appreciation for a trio of people, who are part of this city's rich basketball history.
It isn't an insult. It's a gift. It shouldn't be boycotted. It should be celebrated.
It's a night to put aside your anger at the NBA and acknowledge that, underneath that anger, a love of the game still smolders.
I'll always love this game, even as I detest many of the people who run it and ran it out of this town.
As far as the anger is concerned, I'm with you.
I'm still mad at all of the evildoers, from Howard Schultz, to Clay Bennett, from David Stern to Greg Nickels.
I'm mad that the state legislature never gave serious consideration to remodeling KeyArena, reinvigorating Lower Queen Anne hill and restarting the town's quest for another NBA team.
These are the people who left us feeling empty this past season.
But the tens of thousands of real Seattle basketball fans never abandoned the Sonics. Even as the Bennett-owned teams were stripped bare and fell to the bottom of the league, people still came to The Key and cheered passionately.
Even when the city was caving, fans were holding out hope that the team would remain through the final two years of its lease.
I'm not one of those people believing it is so sweet and nice Oklahoma City has a team. I think it's a bad joke on the league.
Oklahoma City still is a one-horse town that won't sustain its love for the Thunder, won't attract the upper echelon free agents and won't be able to keep its own stars.
I'm sure there are plenty of fine people in OKC, who enjoy their NBA team. Some even understand the game. But they should know that their team was built on the insults the Bennett ownership group hurled at Seattle.
A lot of us remain angry at the way Seattle was treated in that final season. Still angry at new general manager Sam Presti's cynical, send-in-the-clowns personnel decisions, designed to clear salary cap space for the Oklahoma City version of the Sonics.
I mean, can we ever forget the numerous contributions made in the 2007-08 season by Donyell Marshall and Adrian Griffin? Aren't the 17 minutes played by Ira Newble still etched in our memories? How about the 65 rebounds from Francisco Elson? Or those 4 points scored by Ronald Dupree?
"Memories. Like the corners of our mind. Misty water-colored memories. Of the way we were."
Presti tried to sell these moves as deals made to guarantee a brighter future for Seattle. But he was working for the Bennetts and the Aubrey McClendon's. Not Seattle, or the Sonics.
He began rebuilding the Sonics knowing, almost certainly, they were moving to the Southwest.
So, my advice is to stay mad at all the usual suspects, but stay hopeful.
The NBA business model is shattered, but the quality of the game remains high. And there will be teams available when the legislature finally comes to its senses and agrees to the painless prescription to remodel The Key.
Be mad at Stern and Bennett, but don't boycott the exhibition game.
Look at it as a rare chance to welcome home McMillan, Roy and Webster.
And look at it as a very small, but necessary, first step to welcoming back the NBA.