Posted Apr 18 2011 7:17PM
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- George Karl wishes there was still an NBA team in Seattle.
Karl, the coach with the best winning percentage in SuperSonics history, broached the subject Monday as his Denver Nuggets prepared to play Game 2 of their first-round playoff series against the Oklahoma City Thunder, who relocated from Seattle three years ago.
Karl, who also led the Sonics to their last appearance in the NBA finals, said he's "a huge fan of Oklahoma City, other than you took my team out of Seattle."
"My thing is I think Seattle deserves an NBA franchise. My hope is they'll figure that out," Karl said. "It doesn't seem like it's moving in that direction from my information back in Seattle, so it makes me sad.
"Seattle is a big part of my life and my career, and my daughter still lives outside of Seattle. I love the city of Seattle. Other than Denver, it's probably my favorite place I've coached."
The SuperSonics played in Seattle from 1967 to 2008, but moved to Oklahoma City after demands from new team owner Clay Bennett and the NBA for publicly funded renovations at KeyArena weren't met.
There's still an incentive for the city to pursue a team: Bennett would have to pay $30 million to Seattle if it pays to renovate the arena by 2013 and the NBA doesn't provide a replacement team. Those terms came as part of a settlement of a lawsuit.
The unpleasant divorce from Seattle also has meant all artifacts from the team's previous home aren't on display in Oklahoma City, including the trophy from the Sonics' 1979 NBA title or any banners recognizing past division titles or retired jerseys - although the Thunder doesn't use those retired numbers.
Karl went 384-150 with the Sonics from 1991 to 1998 and led Seattle to the 1996 NBA finals but stayed away from entering the debate over whether the franchise's past should be recognized in its present home.
"That's a sensitive bag of worms, right there, baby," Karl said. "You're answering me to answer that question in Oklahoma City, in the owner of Oklahoma City's own arena?
"I'd rather answer that question after Seattle gets another franchise."
After all, Karl said he isn't anti-Oklahoma City.
"I like small towns. I say this as a compliment, I hope Oklahoma City takes it as a compliment: I look at them as the Green Bay of the NBA," Karl said. "Green Bay is a marvelous place to go watch an NFL football game. It's probably the best place in the world to go watch an NFL football game.
"I have a 6-year-old girl that was at the game last night and she was just crying because the noise was too loud. That's a bad thing for a 6-year-old girl but it's an awful good thing for an NBA basketball team, that emotion and that enthusiasm in the building."
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