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SEATTLE — There’s nothing like fresh salmon, oysters, Alaskan halibut and local Dungeness crab in the Pacific Northwest. So, naturally, I found myself at Elliott’s Oyster House, a Seattle staple just a few blocks from the Pike Place Market and adjacent to The Seattle Great Wheel overlooking the Puget Sound.

But the wait at Elliott’s was 40 minutes, and I had time to burn. I walked into a local gift shop to peruse their selection. Space Needle keychains. Beecher’s cheese. Coffee mugs with the Seattle skyline. Then I came across the hats.

Despite the fact Seattle is home to the four-time WNBA champion Seattle Storm, the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks won a Super Bowl within the last decade, MLB’s Seattle Mariners ended the longest-active postseason drought Friday night after 20 years, and the NHL’s Seattle Kraken made their debut a year ago, it was the SuperSonics, a franchise that last played in Seattle in 2008 before being relocated and renamed as the Oklahoma City Thunder, that dominated the scene.

“Seattle’s a hoop city — that’s our sport,” former NBA lottery pick and Seattle native Spencer Hawes who spent 10 seasons in the NBA from 2007-17 told The Athletic. “I love the Seahawks. I mean, I’m as big a fan as anybody. But I always tell people at the end of the day, this is a basketball town.”

For the first time since 2018, when the Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings played in Key Arena, the NBA is returning to Seattle.

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