A five year old sports documentary is getting its second life. For the first time, ESPN will air Sonicsgate, the documentary about the Seattle SuperSonics leaving for Oklahoma City and the questionable circumstances therein. The premiere is scheduled for Friday, February 7th at 9 PM ET. (UPDATE: The film has now been rescheduled for March 14th.) Here's more details from a press release from the film's braintrust.
"The producers of "Sonicsgate: Requiem For A Team" today announced that the ESPN family of networks has licensed the North American broadcast rights of the documentary.
ESPN Classic will air "Sonicsgate" for the first time at 9:00 P.M. Eastern Time / 6:00 P.M. Pacific Time on Friday, Feb. 7.
The 43-minute documentary exposes the shocking truth behind the sale and relocation of the Seattle SuperSonics NBA franchise, which moved to Oklahoma City following an intense legal battle in 2008. "Sonicsgate" previously aired nationally on CNBC television in 2012, and the producers are thrilled to now add it to the roster of films at ESPN Classic.
"Sonicsgate" explores the series of controversial business dealings and embarrassing political failures that led to Seattle's 41-year team and its championship history being ripped away from a loyal fan base and a top tier media market. The film features rare archive footage and exclusive interviews with experts and insiders including Gary Payton, Shawn Kemp, George Karl, Sherman Alexie and Slade Gorton."
The success of Sonicsgate is an encouraging story about the power of a grass roots movement in the sports world. It began in 2009 as a free online film and has now traveled slowly but surely to the largest sports company in the world, winning several awards along the way. To see the film come to ESPN is a big day for the producers of the film and for Seattle basketball fans hoping to get their team back. Although this will be the second airing on national television, there's a big difference between airing on CNBC and airing on ESPN, even if it is the Classic network that has seen distribution drop over the years. And it will provide another boost in awareness for the cause of resurrecting the Sonics.