NBA fans in Seattle now have their Mayflower moment.
Three moving trucks arrived in downtown Oklahoma City on Friday morning to unload the former SuperSonics' belongings at the NBA franchise's office headquarters. Two box trucks and a tractor-trailer arrived at 10:21 a.m., and the first thing to roll off the truck was a basketball.
As soon as the back door to the first box truck was lifted, the ball -- stamped with an NBA logo -- came rolling out.
"It was a nice touch, wasn't it?" said Pete Winemiller, a team vice president for guest relations who's helped oversee the move.
The lasting image when the NFL's Baltimore Colts relocated to Indianapolis in 1984 was the sight of Mayflower moving trucks loading up the team's belongings in the middle of the night.
While the three trucks making a sharp right turn onto Park Avenue might not rank up there with the Colts' infamous departure, it's another sign that the NBA is moving to Oklahoma City for real.
Team owner Clay Bennett announced July 2 that the SuperSonics would be moving to Oklahoma City as part of an agreement that settled a lawsuit with a payment of up to $75 million to the city of Seattle. The franchise, which will reveal its new name on Wednesday, has been working on the transition since then.
Ken Hughen, a project manager with A-1 Freeman Moving Group, said several smaller loads had already been transported the approximately 2,000 miles between the cities. This group of trucks left Tuesday, and Hughen said the drivers took shifts driving 10 hours and sleeping eight hours.
"There will be about 60 trucks when it's all said and done making it from Point A to Point B," Winemiller said. "No question about it, it is a project that has to be looked at very carefully, and to see this truck arrive here today is a real sign that we're making progress."
Winemiller said there were 10,000 pounds of equipment and furniture in the load that arrived Friday. The first items offloaded were five office chairs, including one that had the basketball set in it, and a 50-inch flat-screen television.
Winemiller said the move from Seattle to Oklahoma City will involve about 60 truckloads and be done by the end of September.
"We ramped up early and got some things in here but this is obviously one of our bigger loads, and so we're happy to have all of this equipment here so we can really get rolling," Winemiller said.
The team has set up its offices at the Leadership Square building downtown, and Winemiller said they're working on how to fill the 25,000 square feet of space with the items that were in a similar sized office in Seattle.
"It really is taking that area that we had in the northwest and trying to make sure it fits here in this space, and so far it's been a pretty good fit," Winemiller said. "It's been a little bit of a puzzle but it's all worked out very nicely."
The NBA officially handed over the Seattle franchise to Oklahoma City about two months ago. Winemiller said an the team made an inventory of its belongings, "everything down to that last stapler to that office set. You'll see some more trucks like this coming through, and we'll have more equipment. It'll be everything from office furniture to computers to a lot of the equipment for basketball operations."
Clay Bennett's ownership group finalized a settlement last week that determined what items will stay in Seattle and what will come to Oklahoma City. Many items won't be shipped until after the WNBA's Seattle Storm finish their season.
The Storm will continue to play in Seattle. A group of Seattle women are buying the Storm from Bennett for $10 million.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)