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.”