Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Looking Towards The Future...

Former Senator & Lawyer Slade Gorton

Life isn't fair. It isn't fair that my favorite sports team is moving to a state I have no intention of ever visiting. It isn't fair that our team was purchased by a coffee magnet under false pretenses. And it isn't fair that the NBA Commissioner is letting opinion influence his job. 

Slade Gorton, a former Senator and proud Seattle politician, is charged with defending the City of Seattle in its lawsuit against Clay Bennett. Stern has called Gorton's defending the city many things, claiming that the former Senator would like to "exact whatever pound of flesh is possible". To me, that doesn't sound like an unbiased committee leader. But then again, life isn't fair.

Looking towards the future, the Sonics won't be in Seattle. Will they be in Oklahoma? Maybe the name won't go with the roster and coaching staff, but when I watch games, I'll recognize the faces. Slade Gorton and Mayor Nickels both want to have professional basketball in Seattle. To do so will require Key Arena renovations, we've heard this time and time again. According the Gorton, had renovation plans been set "last week, in my view we'd either have kept the Sonics or gotten assurance of another team."

So I think you can see why Senators Murray & Cantwell are making us Sonics fans a little angry. Spend less time preaching on your soapbox and more time making changes that you talk about. I spent the majority of this blog hopeful that the Sonics would stay in their home. There is no longer any sense of hope, and the words "life isn't fair" have never sounded truer. Will Seattle get a new NBA team? Maybe. Will I love them like the Sonics? Well, I think you know that answer to that...

Our Fair-Weather Friends Repond...

Senator Maria Cantwell

Senator Patty Murray

Senator Maria Cantwell and Senator Patty Murray, fair-weather friends of this blog, issued an official response to the recent NBA relocation vote. Here is what their official releases said:

"I'm disappointed that NBA leadership has ignored calls for good-faith efforts to keep the Sonics in Seattle and rewarded the bad-faith behavior of Clay Bennett and his ownership group... Violating the public's trust with empty promises is unacceptable, and the NBA's decision today sets a poor precedent." - Murray

"For decades the Sonics have been part of the Seattle community and its culture... As an avid sports fan, I'm dismayed to see the NBA rewarding such unsportsmanlike donuct. The Sonics ownership misrepresented their true intentions to the community and yet the NBA gives them a bonus for this bad-faith effort." - Cantwell

Look, I'm just as livid at Clay Bennett and the NBA committee as anyone right now, but to be completely honest, these two press releases just about send me over the edge. Where were Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell when all that was needed to keep the team in Seattle was Key Arena renovations? Bennett may have had his motives, but I'm pretty sure we were conscious of them along the way. 

You want to talk about bad-faith efforts? How about releasing contrived statements about an issue you did nothing to stop but claim affects you deeply? That's what I call bad-faith efforts, and that's what I call misrepresenting true intentions to the community!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Mark Cuban: A Good Man

Mark Cuban, owner of Dallas Mavericks 

Mark Cuban has been criticized for being volatile and overly aggressive. But if there's one thing you can't accuse him of, it's not being a passionate businessman. And if the NBA relocation vote was any indication, he's a big fan of loyalty. Not necessarily of Bennett being loyal to a team he has little connection to, or even Cuban himself being loyal to Seattle fans. Ultimately, he felt it was disloyal of the NBA to move a team away from a place where it was wanted, and needed. And I respect the man greatly for it.

Cuban sees things the way I do. Sure, the Sonics were let down by various owners and politicians, all of whom could've stepped up and kept the franchise in the Jet City. But that doesn't mean that you have to punish the fans, the people who have picketed and protested the move day in and day out. Despite what is legal and what isn't, whether or not Schultz and Bennett were ethical, there is the unwritten rules or right and wrong. And Cuban recognized that this move was wrong. He didn't owe anything to Seattle, he just saw the situation for what it was and stood up for what he believed. I only wish the 27 other people in the room could have done the same thing.

You probably are wondering why I didn't say 28. Well, because Clay Bennett himself was one of the voters. If that doesn't strike you as unfair, I don't know what will...

28 - 2

Paul Allen. A true Seattle guy.

Only two people voted to keep the Sonics in Seattle. Those votes came from Mr. Paul Allen and Mr. Mark Cuban. These are two men who know a thing or two about making money, sure. But they also know quite a lot about owning a professional sports team, and doing so honorably where money isn't the bottom line to every question asked. It's almost bittersweet that Allen and Cuban were the only two people fighting to keep the Sonics where they belong. You see, they not only represent what NBA owners should be, but also the exact opposite of what Howard Schultz and Clay Bennett are. 

Paul Allen, who owns the Portland Trailblazers, stepped in to rescue the Seahawks franchise under similar circumstances a decade ago. He recognized how important professional sports were to Seattle folks, and dug his heels into the ground to make the team more profitable. It wasn't a victory that was won overnight. But what I can say is that Paul Allen fought the battle, and won. If you need any proof , look at the Seahawks record these past few seasons. Howard Schultz, on the other hand? He saw the fight, and ran from it. 

It almost makes sense. Howard Schultz isn't from Seattle, he's a New Yorker. But Paul Allen, he grew up with the Space Needle in the distance. He went to the same high school as I did. He's a Seattle guy, born and bred. That's why Allen saved the Seahawks. He probably spent Thanksgivings watching the team with his cousins, like I did. But Howard Schultz? He didn't grow up on Sonics basketball, and he didn't care to fight the good fight. 

And as the Sonics are poised to move, all I can really ask for is for Howard Schultz to move with them. He doesn't belong in Seattle, he proved that himself. 

Sunday, April 20, 2008

NBA Votes. Bennett Wins.

NBA Commissioner David Stern

The NBA relocation committee met today, and held their official vote concerning the move of the historic Sonics franchise from its native Seattle to an undisclosed location in the state Oklahoma. The committee's decision wasn't a favorable one for Sonics fans. 28 members to 2 voted that Clay Bennett was within his grounds to move the franchise to his home state. 

So where do things stand? The NBA has given Bennett their blessing to move the team. Should Key Arena allow the Sonics out of their lease, they could be playing in Oklahoma as early as this fall. Nevermind the thousands of Sonics fans in Seattle left heartbroken. No, much better to please the non-existent fans in Oklahoma, a state that has not had a successful professional sports team in decades. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Gov. Gregoire Gets Involved

Gov. Christine Gregoire

King County Executive Ron Sims

Gov. Christine Gregoire, who rose to prominence back in 2004 amid some controversy against opponent Dino Rossi, has decided to back Howard Schultz's lawsuit as well. This comes as a surprise to many, who assumed that Gregoire, like many Seattle politicians, wouldn't fight for the franchise said to have little "worth" in a liberal, outdoorsy city like Seattle. The past two days have witnessed many prominent Seattle politicians, including King County Executive Ron Sims, stepping forward in support of the team, all of them asking the NBA to halt their vote for the team's relocation. 

Here is my question to you: do you think the last minute support in earnest, or merely an attempt for local politicians to capitalize on a good PR opportunity? While I'm not upset at their support, and am certain it will only help our cause, I can't help but think that it might be too little too late. Had they opposed the relocation from the get-go, perhaps we would find ourselves with a new arena and happy fans.

Mayor Greg Nickels seems to agree with me. He responded, saying that "Words are one thing, action is another", in reference to the lack of support Gregoire showed in renovating Key Arena in the fall. 

Senator Patty Murray Goes to Bat

Senator Patty Murray, who has enjoyed a pretty consistent level of popularity with the voters throughout her tenure in office, really fought hard for the Sonics today. Murray wrote a letter to David Stern, the current NBA Commissioner. Her argument is essentially the same as Howard Schultz's, that Clay Bennett was misleading and manipulative in his motives to purchase the franchise. She also brings up another point, one which might resonate more with the NBA: allowing Bennett to move the team on false grounds will "set a damaging precedent for the NBA". With comparisons already being drawn between the Sonics and other franchises moved against the will of the people (think Sacramento Kings from Kansas), Murray brings up a valid point.

In all honesty, though, is it really fair to start pointing the finger at Clay Bennett. Sure, I'm just as upset as any other Sonics fan, but I think we were all well aware that his intent was to move the team. This isn't a sudden revelation, and while the recent emails may give us the factual proof that Bennett is in breach of his contract, I think in our heart of hearts, we know that Bennett never mislead us the way Howard Schultz did.