PJAS 16-8

Łukasz Muniowski
How Much Do Bench Players Matter in the NBA? A Case Study of the Seattle SuperSonics/Oklahoma City Thunder|
Polish Journal for American Studies, vol. 16 (2022), pp. 103-114

Abstract: The National Basketball Association offers only 150 starting spots to the best basketball players in the world–five on each of the 30 teams it consists of–and, considering such factors as personal preferences, luck and salary cap, it is possible that a bench player on one team would be not so much a starter, but one of the two-three best players on a different one. This article analyzes two basketball players, Detlef Schrempf and Jim McIlvaine, whose career narratives will be discussed have played for the Seattle SuperSonics, a franchise which eventually relocated to the state of Oklahoma and became the Oklahoma City Thunder. By narrowing the focus of this article to one franchise–as the Thunder are the extension of the Sonics–I want to highlight two issues. Firstly, I want to show individual involvement in sports history, how two players can shape the fate of a franchise. The fact that both were reserves before coming to Seattle highlights the importance of every personnel decision in running a team. Secondly, while it can be argued that such players may be found in the history of each of the other 29 NBA teams, Seattle/Oklahoma is significant because of the relocation that took place in 2008, effectively ending high-profile men’s professional basketball in Seattle. Hopefully this article adds a new perspective to the scholarship already devoted to the issue, dealing with the depiction and the repercussions of the move.

Keywords: NBA, sports, relocation, Seattle, SuperSonics

DOI: 10.7311/PJAS.16/2022.08

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