Seattle screwjob – 2nd Act
Seattle Sonics fans everywhere had their hearts broken again last week by the NBA when the Board of Governors voted 22-8 against relocation of the Sacramento Kings to Seattle. It is just the newest chapter in the David Stern vs. Seattle saga that has tugged on the heartstrings of every Sonics sympathizer since 2008.
As a lifelong fan of the oldest professional sports team in Seattle until their move, my heart hurts.
After all the build up and hope brought on by Chris Hansen’s heroic efforts thus far, it is hard to believe that this city’s basketball fans were robbed yet again…by an all-too familiar enemy.
David Stern’s vendetta against this city has been evident since Clay Bennett made his wild demands after purchasing the team from local coward Howard Schultz while fellow local coward Greg Nickels stood by and did nothing. We all know Bennett had no intention of leaving the Sonics in Seattle, instead yearning to move them to his Okie paradise.
Nickels gave him an easy way out between his greed and lack of care for the general public’s wishes, letting Bennett essentially pay off the city of Seattle in order to break the remaining lease in Key Arena and take off for his cowtown.
All the while, David Stern sat idly by and helped his good friend Bennett any way he could.
I don’t know about you, but that was a good enough reason for me to hate the NBA commissioner more than I already did. After last week’s developments, he climbed all the way to the top of my sports Shit List.
Skip ahead to the latest saga
Chris Hansen swooped in like a superhero and gave this city hope again when he unexpectedly launched a proposal and campaign to get the city of Seattle another NBA team.
Like us, he grew up here. He loved his Seattle sports and he especially loved the Sonics. And like us, he wanted to see them return. So he hatched his plan and got straight to work.
He snatched up all the land he needed to build an arena.
He secured a Memorandum of Understanding with the Seattle City Council and King County Council, which started a 5 year contract - If the city of Seattle had, in writing, a promise of the return of the NBA to Seattle, Hansen has the ok to put shovels to dirt and begin his proposed arena to faciliate the new NBA team as well as a possible NHL team in the future.
Then he set his sights on a target.
The easiest, most obvious target were the lowly Sacramento Kings, who have struggled for the last 10 years to stay put in the capital of California. The Maloofs owned the team and weren’t interested in staying in town when the city turned down a new arena countless times.
The team had been rumored to move to Anaheim, Las Vegas, Virginia Beach and then to Seattle. They obviously wanted out of the NBA, but wanted to do it at the right price. Hansen and his new partners Steve Ballmer and the Nordstroms offered them that payday they were looking for.
After putting a $30 million deposit down in the agreement with the Maloofs, the Hansen group threw down a massive offer for the Kings, inflating their value to $525 million, already a record sale price for a team.
As the days led up to D-Day, the offer went as high as $625 million with a record $115 million relocation fee AND the promise of opting out of revenue sharing, a move that should’ve made every owner salivate at the opportunity to put quite a bit of money directly into their pockets.
Instead, the owners allowed the childish dictator with the little man complex to herd them like sheep into making a decision against conventional business wisdom.
The commish helped long winded Sacramento mayor and ex-NBA player Kevin Johnson by giving his group lots of extra time as well as specific criteria to meet in order to earn enough wiggle room to keep the team in town.
KJ put together an ownership group pretty quickly, but anyone with half a brain could see the massive holes in the plan in Sacramento. He started with names like Burkle and Mastrov and 20 “whales” who were going to throw $1 million each into the franchise just for good measure.
The group flip flopped at who would fund and own the team and arena.
They even got an extra month past the deadline issued by the NBA calendar to put this cracker jack plan together.
The names Burkle and Mastrov weren’t being mentioned anymore 2 months later as it soon became Vivek Ranadive, who is one of the owners of the Golden State Warriors. A man who was cheerleading for the Kings to stay by day and sporting his gold Warriors playoff shirt courtside in Oakland by night was going to bail Sacramento out.
Fast forward to the BOG vote where reportedly several owners were swayed by Stern to vote against the relocation to Seattle. He swayed them to vote against a transaction that was sound, guaranteed and ready to be put into action.
He all but demanded the Maloofs sell the team to an ownership group that had completely transformed over a 2 month period and had put together an arena deal so loosely created that it seemed it could fall apart just as easy as the wet napkin it was drawn on.
And he started the whole show off with a literary dagger in the hearts of Seattle NBA fans everywhere. As he waddled up the stairs and plopped down on his chair, seemingly exhausted by his demonstration of absolute power in the meeting room, he uttered the phrase that will never be forgotten,
“This is going to be short for me. I have a game to get to in Oklahoma City.”
How can one man be so evil to such a loyal fan base that wanted nothing more than to keep THEIR team, THEIR history, and THEIR memories? How can he be so cold and calculated in allowing their original team to leave, only to stonewall them when their chance to bring another team to the city arose.
The answer is simple. We’re talking about David Stern.
We’re talking about the same man that asked the city of Seattle to drop their suit against his buddy Clay Bennett or else the city would not be considered for a future franchise – and then denied it when asked about it at the relocation announcement.
We’re talking about the same son of a bitch who infamously asked Jim Rome if he still beats his wife during a live, national interview.
We’re talking about a man who used his power to veto a deal that would’ve given the Lakers the piece to the puzzle they needed to make another run at multiple championships in Chris Paul, only to send him to the Clippers to even the balance of power in Los Angeles.
We’re talking about the same man that sold an NBA franchise to Tom Benson in New Orleans…a franchise that miraculously won the [RIGGED] draft lottery over SEVERAL teams much more deserving.
Good ol David Stern
So here we are now, Sonics fans, back at square one. With such an emotional rollercoaster behind us, what happens next?
Does the NBA offer up relocation or does the Hansen group target another franchise that’s barely keeping it’s head above water?
Do we see a run at the Charlotte or Milwaukee franchises?
Or do we wait until February 2014 to usher in a new NBA commissioner when Adam Silver takes over for the little man and hope he re-affirms his commitment to the Seattle market by awarding us an expansion team?
Only time will tell at this point. One thing is for certain, though… In Hansen I trust.