SEATTLE - While giving his four-year-old daughter a bath this morning, Chris Backschies had to explain to her what a broken promise is after learning their favorite team is moving away, possibly never to return.

"She's a very precocious young girl and she really understands more than she can deal with and she's really sad about it," Chris said.

Chris and his wife Bridget are Seattle SuperSonics fans, but more than that, they never would have become a family without the Sonics.

Chris started working for the team back in 1994 in ticket sales.

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Bridget started a year later and worked her way up to Director of Broadcasting.

You can imagine how heartbroken they are that the team is moving.

It's made even worse because today is their ninth wedding anniversary.

"It just doesn't seem real to me that it's coinciding. I mean it just seems odd and unusual to me," said Bridget. "It just makes a happy day not as happy."

Bridget first got the news of the settlement by reading a posting on an Oklahoma news Web site. Once all the details were laid out, she said she became sick to her stomach.

"I just felt like I was going to be sick the entire drive home."

Bridget even called Sonics play-by-play announcer Kevin Calabro. She said he didn't sound good, but probably was more optimistic than most about the future of Seattle basketball.

In a love story wrought with irony, Chris and Bridget met at an employee function to give KeyArena a run-through two days before its opening after its renovation in 1995. KeyArena is the same place that Sonics owner Clay Bennett and NBA Commissioner David Stern said wasn't good enough to keep the Sonics in town.

They started dating a few months later.

"It's just a sad twist of fate that we met there. It brought us together," said Chris.

The Backschies have three daughters: Georgia, 4; Charlotte, 3; and Fiona, 1.

"We have a family now and the girls really love the team," said Chris, choking back tears.

The family has plenty of fond Sonics memories. Bridget was a Chicago Bulls fan before moving here, so she was thrilled to see the Sonics and Bulls in the 1996 NBA Finals. By then, she switched her loyalties to Seattle.

They also were there at the last home game for the Sonics, a win over the Dallas Mavericks.

The daughters even became fans. Chris and Bridget took Charlotte to a game for her third birthday.

"The girls love Squatch. My wife always arranges for Squatch to come see them," said Chris.

Their Sonics careers are long behind them. Chris left in 1998 to pursue a career in online ad sales. Bridget left after ten years to work at Microsoft.

Both agree that that the Sonics move probably wouldn't be happening if former owner Howard Schultz hadn't sold it.

"The day I heard they sold it, I said 'they're gone,'" said Bridget. "There's no way a gentleman from Oklahoma City is going to keep that team here."

But Chris remains optimistic, in part because of a lawsuit filed by Schultz to have the sale rescinded.

"I still think there's a very good chance (Schultz) will win the lawsuit," said Chris. "So I'm holding out hope they'll be back at some point."

If it's not the Sonics, but another team that comes to Seattle in a few years, Bridget is not sure she'll be a fan.

"I've always said if we can't have this team, I don't want another team. Who knows. In six months, I may change my mind."

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