The Stark Truth

Former Kitsap Sun sports editor Chuck Stark shares insight, laughter, news, views and analysis of Kitsap sports and beyond.
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Archive for April, 2008

Stark Truth: Five Things

Saturday, April 26th, 2008

1) Tony Fein Wins Pat Tillman Award
Former South Kitsap QB and Mississippi senior linebacker Tony Fein was presented the Pat Tillman Patriot Award by the Military Order of the Purple Heart at Ole Miss’ spring football game.
Fein, who fought in Iraq before continuing his football career, received the award which is presented to exhibit to Americans that some athletes can battle on the gridiron or on the battlefield. It shows a willingness to serve one’s country and still take part in sports.
Fein’s a starting linebacker projected to do big things this coming fall. We’re in the process of getting more detals on this story and will share them with you as soonas soon as we do. Look for a story on Fein in our print pages soon.

2) New Web Site for Kitsap Soccer Fans
If you’re into soccer, check out GOALkitsap.com.
It’s an umbrella site of GOALseattle.com, a popular site devoted to professional and amateur soccer in the Seattle area.
Goalkitsap.com is a fan-operated website that’ll keep you updated on Robin Waite’s plans to build a new stadium in Poulsbo and bring professional soccer to Kitsap County.
Local soccer clubs are also invited to post news and photos.

3) The Sonics Leaving for Oklahoma City
OK, you knew that.
But here’s the latest news, just in case you missed it.
Howard Schultz, the former owner, filed his lawsuit on Tuesday to rescind the July 2006 sale to owner Howard Bennett because the Oklahoma City-based businessman never intended to keep the team in Seattle.
Lester Munson, an ESPN analyst, believes the Schultz has a better than 50 percent chance of winning his case.

“This is a better case than I think most people expected,” Munson said. “They have some very clever legal procedures and some overwhelming e-mails that I think together could give Schultz a chance to accomplish something here. If I were Clay Bennett right now I would be look at that, and I would be worried.”
NBA commissioner David Stern isn’t flinching.
“Subject to all lawful orders of the court, the Sonics are moving to Oklahoma City, whether it’s the end of this season, next season or the season after that,” he said. “…it would be hard to imagine there would be any circumstances legally that would preclude the Sonics from moving at the end of their lease.”

4) Kitsap Sports Hall of Fame Inductions
The 2008 class has been selected. The Kitsap County Bremerton Athletic Roundtable will release the names next week. They’re making efforts to contact everybody that will be inducted on Sept. 13.
The KCBAR’s also working on this year’s High School Sports Banquet, which honors top student-athletes, and coaches, from our area’s high schools and Olympic College. For the first time, North Mason – which has been excluded in the past because it’s from Mason County – will be included at the banquet. Of course, first-year school Kingston will join in the festivities. Bremerton Mayor Cary Bozeman, once again, will be the guest speaker. The event will be held June 27 at the President’s Hall at the Kitsap County Fairgronds and Events Center.
In a related note, the KCBAR has a full schedule on tap for Wednesday’s meeting at the Cloverleaf Sports Bar & Grille. Former PGA Tour golfer Ken Still from Tacoma, one of the most popular players of his era, is the headliner. Port Gamble’s Laura Daugereau and her sled dog Bella will be there to talk about the Iditarod. Robin Waite will give an update on his plans to build a soccer stadium in Poulsbo. Bree Schaaf Boyer will talk about her first year on the bobsled circuit and about her chances to make the 2010 Olympic team. Husky analyst Dick Baird will share his knowledge about his year’s UW football team. Get there early to get a seat. Social hour starts at 6 p.m. with the dinner meeting starting at 7 p.m.

5) West Regionals Around the Corner
The NCAA West Regionals golf tournament will be held May 15-17 at Gold Mountain Golf Complex and tournament officials are still looking for volunteers to work four hour shifts for four days. If interested, call Gold Mountain at (360) 415-5432.
Tournament host Washington is in danger of missing the tournament. The Huskies need a high finish at the Pac-10 Championships, held this week (Monday-Wednesday) in Fairfax, Calif., at the Meadow Club.
USC is the defending team champ with USC’s Jamie Lovemark the defending medalist. Lovemark and the Trojans are among the 30 teams likely to be assigned to the West Regionals. The Huskies are hoping they’re one of them.
Gold Mountain, meanwhile, is hoping to wow NCAA officials as the Bremerton city-owned complex plans to bid for the NCAA Championships in 2012. Gold Mountain, which hosted the U.S. Amateur Public Links in 2006, will host the U.S. Boys Junior in 2011


Stark Truth: Sonics Cleared for Takeoff; What Next? Deal, or No Deal?

Saturday, April 19th, 2008

Some of you might remember that the SuperSonics were named after a plane that never got off the ground. Well, the NBA franchise that’s graced (and sometimes disgraced) the Puget Sound region for 41 years is taxiing down the runway and preparing to takeoff.
There’s still two major questions to ponder?
Will this team, owned by Clay Bennett, play out its lease at KeyArena through 2010? Or wIll Bennett and the city of Seattle reach a settlement on the lease issue before going to court in June?
I think a settlement’s the best way to go. If you believe NBA commissioner David Stern (go ahead, insert joke here) Bennett would lose about $30 million a year if he’s forced to play two more years at the Key. Here’s the deal worth pitching: ask Bennett for $75 million to break the lease, but only if the city can get a guarantee from Stern and the NBA that Seattle will be awarded the next NBA franchise that’s available, whether it’s an expansion team or another team looking to move.
It’s the only chance the town has of getting another NBA team. A new arena or a mega renovation of KeyArena, similar to the one Steve Ballmer proposed and later took off the table, will be needed to make it happen.
If Seattle can’t strike a deal with the NBA for another team, THERE WON’T BE ANOTHER TEAM. It’s too late for somebody to ride in on the white horse and keep this franchise from leaving.
What if Sterns says, “No deal. We can’t promise Seattle a franchise.”
If that happens, it only makes sense for the city of Seattle to come to some sort of settlement on the lease with Bennett. I don’t think anybody wants to suffer through two more years of watching bad basketball.
Sonics fans, the engines have been revving for along time. The team is moving down the runway, it’s picking up speed. Fasten your seat belts, close your eyes (and think about all the good times) … it’s taking off. It’s airborne.
It’s gone.


Stark Truth: Stern Not Getting a Lot of Love

Wednesday, April 16th, 2008

This much we know. Current Sonics owner Clay Bennett’s a liar, Howard Schultz is a phony and NBA Commissioner David Stern’s reputation has taken a gigantic hit. You wonder if Stern, until now a respected administrator in the world of sports — maybe THE most respected — will ever admit that he let Seattle politicians get under his skin while trying to gain a new arena for his buddy, SuperSonics’ owner Howard Bennett.
ESPN.com columnist Bill Simmons is among the national writers who have bashed Stern. During Part II of Simmons’ NBA MVP Ballot column, he rated Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki the No. 6 contender. Of Nowitzki, he wrote: “Nobody showed more character and grit down the stretch of the regular season with one exception: The Sonics fans, who handled a legitimately unfair situation with the perfect balance of rage and nostalgia and brought the sport to a higher place in those final two home games.
(Note to David Stern: This was your Bay of Pigs. This was your Watergate. This seedy, incomprehensible saga stained your legacy — it did — and the sooner you publicly admit that you handled this situation appallingly from start to finish and do your best to make amends, the better off you will be. I’m speaking for all of us here: We don’t want to follow a league in which anyone’s franchise can be basically hijacked on a billionaire’s whim. You need to fix this. You need to fix this right now.)

Some fans and politicians are still hanging on to the belief that they came somehow, some way, find a way to keep the team in Seattle. Howard Schultz gave them hope when he announced that he plans to file a lawsuit against the Sonics’ current ownership group over breach of contract because he believes they failed to live up to a “good faith, best effort” stipulation that was part of the agreement in the July 2006 sale.
Is Schultz, the Starbucks’ owner, simply trying to find a way for the community to forgive him? Is it a publicity ploy or a legitimate issue that could help keep the team in Seattle?
I don’t know if he has a chance to win in court. It seems that the case would be difficult to prove because of the subjective nature of good faith stipulations, but that’s a question for a qualified attorney.
If only Schultz would have written into the contract that Bennett had to keep the team in Seattle for 10 years before moving it. Just a simple clause and none of this stuff would be happening. The fans would be giddy about watching the team grow behind SuperRookie Kevin Durant.
State political leaders have written letters to Stern, asking that they postpone Friday’s NBA’s Board of Governors vote on whether to allow the Sonics to move.
Want another opinion? Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament recently talked about the Sonics with ESPN The Magazine. Even before the messy Sonics’ deal, Ament said he’d lost his zeal for the NBA. You can check out the entire Q&A here.
“…if the deal goes through, I would bet that a lot of Sonic fans will pay very little attention to the NBA. I’m not sure what sort of spit-swapping was going on between (Clay) Bennett and (David) Stern, but the whole thing stinks of conspiracy. I know it happens everyday, but I can’t believe these sorts of deals are allowed to happen in this country.
“The fact that the Key Arena is the main issue is a joke. They just completely remodeled the place in 1995. Have any of these critics been to the Palace in Auburn Hills, or Oakland Arena, or Continental Arena…New Orleans, Charlotte, the Target Center, the Bradley Center or Arco? All are worse than the Key…and the new arenas like Staples, Boston and MCI Center have such mellow slope in the seating that unless you’re in the first 20 rows, you might as well be at home. I mean, they’re great if you like hanging out at the mall, but does it capture the energy of a live sporting event? I think not. I know this because we’ve either played in these arenas or I’ve watched hoops in all of them.”


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