Phil Caldwell

Sports Blogging With a Grin

Ghost of the Seattle Supersonics Hovers Over NBA, Kings Move

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LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 19:  NBA Commissioner David Stern addresses the media before the start of NBA All-Star Saturday Night at Staples Center on February 19, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Noel Vasquez/Getty Images)

If comedic press releases are the new goal for NBA commissioner David Stern and his pack of used car salesmen running the league, yesterday was indeed a banner day.

First, we have the dishonorable Clay Bennett installed as “head of the franchise relocation committee,” which gnashes the teeth of every single Seattle Supersonic fan at home and abroad.  Apparently the NBA has no remorse for what they did in Seattle, and are actually proud of their behaviour.

Secondly, we have former Sonic owner Howard Schultz, an equally ethically-challenged individual, mouthing off about his former Hall of Fame all-NBA defensive guard Gary Payton, for allegedly not being a “team player.”   This from the guy who back-stabbed his own city for profit.

And now this morning we read and hear words from beloved NBA commissioner David Stern himself, reassuring soon-to-be-jilted Sacramento fans that all is not lost.

The city really should trust the NBA and their group of highly ethical owners.

No, really.  They would never ever pull a fast one on your community like they did to Seattle.  This is precisely why Clay Bennett was named as the head of the franchise relocation committee.

You remember our flat-topped pal down in Oklahoma, right?  While declaring his love and devotion to keep his newly purchased franchise in Seattle, where it had been for four decades surrounded by crazed Sonic fans selling out Key Arena when they actually had an owner trying to win, he was shooting off emails to his buddies back home declaring exactly the opposite of what he was saying publicly in Washington State.


Apparently David Stern, the recipient of several of these Oakie fib-missives himself, was so impressed that he deemed this as qualification for a position where other cities are to trust the head of the NBA relocation committee.

What these two nimrods aren’t saying, is that even if Sacramento steps up and builds a sparkling new building that impresses his highness David Stern, and is state-of-the-art for NBA standards in 2011, it will be the NBA (and not the community) who will decide if the lease deserves to be honored in the future.

The very near future if Seattle is any indication.  All it took was seven years before the NBA was whining about how inadequate Key Arena was, and five years more to bail out of the lease they signed with the city.  Other teams negotiated better leases, so somehow that was seen as justification to break this lease.

Keep in mind that this was the document the NBA used to motivate the city of Seattle and state of Washington, midst many NBA promises and a hesitant legislature, to do this project in the first place.

If the community refused, then surely some other unsuspecting community would offer the team better terms. Because remember, it’s not the size of a community or the longevity of a loyal fan base that matters to NBA owners.



It’s how much money the NBA can leverage from your city.

Ironically, in Seattle, building a new arena gave the team MORE leverage over the city, because it made the city fiscally desperate. Seattle didn’t want an expensive building empty and unpaid for, so they caved in to the demands of Clay Bennett.  If Seattle had forced the Sonics to fund their own palace back in 1994, none of this happens in 2008.

The point being that caving into the NBA makes a city LESS secure in the long run.  It gives the NBA even more leverage over your city.

In Sacramento, we’re seeing the same strategy once again. Sacramento knows how it turned out in Seattle 15 years later.

How stupid does David Stern think city and state bureaucrats are?

Stern and his pack of NBA corporate nerd lawyers were hauled off to court by the city of Seattle during all of this, merely to enforce the lease the NBA signed to get Key Arena built.  There was nothing else Seattle wanted other than the team to live up to what they agreed to in 1994.  That was it.

What, pray tell, would keep the NBA from doing exactly the same thing to Sacramento, if they were foolish enough to build the Kings a new building?!


Stern surely cannot expect another community to shell out half a billion dollars with only Stern’s word as security?  Can he?  Really, after all of this?!

So the next arena deal is where all this devious Seattle activity comes back to haunt this pack of misfits running the NBA, as we’re seeing in Sacramento.  The city simply does not trust David Stern and the NBA.  Nor should they!

Thus if the Maloof Brothers were to get this new arena from Sacramento, but then in several years found themselves in financial trouble via another business matter, what would keep them from selling to an out-town-buyer like Clay Bennett?  The Maloof’s would have all the leverage, not the city!

In Seattle, it was at that point that the NBA’s legal team kicked into high gear.  And it worked. Seattle’s politicians caved again, Clay Bennett got everything he wanted, and Seattle has no team because of it.

Unless, of course, Seattle agrees to do all of this again.

This is the precedent.  This isn’t speculation.  This is what they did to Seattle.  So David Stern and the NBA surely cannot argue they won’t do this again, because they already did this!

All they can argue is that the community should trust them.  These guys.  This fine group of highly ethical stalwarts, with their dedication to the community, and track record towards all things honest and pure.

Moral of the story?

Build your own damn arena, NBA!  You obviously cannot be trusted if a city finances a building for you, and indeed, the only thing that may keep you from moving franchises, is you having to foot the bill for the arena!

For more on this matter, read the six part series starting at:


Written by PhilCaldwell

April 16, 2011 at 3:03 pm

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