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From Activism To Arena: Top Five Sports Stories Of 2017

A lot happened in the world of sports this year – in Seattle and across the state.

KNKX sports commentator Art Thiel talked with 88.5’s Kirsten Kendrick about the five stories he feels were the most significant.

5. UW Men's And Women's Basketball

"The men had a terrible season capped by a 13-game losing streak," Thiel said.

"And after that, athletic director Jen Cohen fired Lorenzo Romar after 15 seasons."

"They hired Mike Hopkins, a longtime assistant at Syracuse. And he's been a positive uptick, I think, so far because of his energy and imagination that he's applied to a lineup that lost a lot of players."

"On the women's side, Mike Neighbors had taken Washington to the heights they'd never seen in that program before. Three very good years out of four."

"He took the top job in his native Arkansas at the University of Arkansas. Jody Wynn from Long Beach State has replaced him."

"They're off to a slow start because they really lost a lot of talent in Kelsey Plum and Chantel Osahor."

4. Seahawks' Social Activism

Thiel said Michael Bennett and Doug Baldwin have put the Seahawks in the national spotlight beyond the protest over the national anthem.

"There is something tangible to come from the activism. It's not just complaining. It's doing."

3. Sounders To MLS Cup 2nd Year In A Row

Even though the Sounders didn't repeat as Major League Soccer champions, losing to Toronto 2-0, Thiel said making it to the Cup match a second year in a row was a big feat.

"That's the hardest thing in pro sports. You can get to the title once but to do it twice, that's a big deal."

2. Gonzaga In NCAA Men's Basketball Championship

"That was a major breakthrough for basketball in the state," Thiel said.

"They reached the pinnacle but they didn't conquer it. North Carolina was really too much: 71-65 in the championship game."

1. Seattle Arena

"There is an arena coming to Seattle!"

"It wasn't what anybody had thought over the last several years, but a developer, the Oak View Group, promised $600 million to renovate KeyArena."

"It looks like a National Hockey League expansion franchise deal could come through for an opening in October of 2020."

"The NBA still has not committed to expansion but somewhere, 2024 or 2025, there is the notion that they will expand and Seattle will be at the top of the list."

"But that's a long time from 2008 when the Sonics left."

Never miss an episode again. Subscribe to Sports With Art Thiel with iTunes orGoogle Play now. You can find Art Thiel's work at Sportspress Northwest and

Kirsten Kendrick hosts Morning Edition on KNKX and the sports interview series "Going Deep," talking with folks tied to sports in our region about what drives them — as professionals and people.
Art Thiel is a co-founder and writer for the rising sports website Sportspress Northwest. In 2003 Thiel wrote the definitive book about the Seattle Mariners, “Out of Left Field,” which became a regional bestseller. In 2009, along with Steve Rudman and KJR 950 afternoon host Mike Gastineau, Thiel authored “The Great Book of Seattle Sports Lists,” a cross between and Mad Magazine that has become mandatory reading for any sports fan who has an indoor bathroom.