That will have to wait at least another year, Frank, for this was the Sonics' day of redemption. "It's been very difficult to listen to all our critics call us chokers for two years and then go home every summer and have people ask, 'What happened to you guys?' " said guard Nate McMillan, a 10-year Seattle veteran, who played gamely despite a lower back injury. "This loss would have haunted us forever, but we're still playing, and we're happy that we'll never have to endure that stuff again."
"Losing the last two years the way we did makes this day even sweeter, it makes this the greatest day of my life" said Kemp, before pausing for perspective. "I should say the greatest so far."
And with that, Kemp officially turned his thoughts eastward to the Chicago Bulls, to the NBA Finals, which were scheduled to start in Chicago on Wednesday. His coach was already a step ahead of him. Karl walked past Kemp toward the door of the Sonics' locker room with three Bulls videotapes under his arm, promising that he wouldn't screen them until the morning. "This victory is healing," said Karl. "We've gone through so much hell together, listened to so much b.s., it's been borderline torture. With this win we shut up a lot of people."
Then Karl smiled and shouted out the sweetest words he and his players could imagine: "Practice. Tomorrow at noon."