Phil Caldwell

Sports Blogging With a Grin

Posts Tagged ‘Seattle Supersonics

Seattle To Get a New Privately-Funded Retractable-Roof Waterfront Arena and Concert venue?

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(Originally published in Bleacher Report on 10/3/2011)

Don’t look now kids, but remember that wild retractable roof basketball arena that Fred Brown proposed?  The one we all forgot about?

Well rumors are flowing that the concept might not be dead after all, and in-fact is very much alive.  There’s a big group of high-powered suited architects with designer haircuts frantically working on conceptual plans to present to the city.  Names known to many but will not be mentioned here.

Back in 2008 during the failed negotiations to save the professional basketball for Seattle, out of the blue came a rather radical vision led by former Sonic Fred Brown and public-relations executive Dave Bean, to build a new privately funded project known as the Emerald City Center.

It would be a $1 billion sports and exposition complex that would include a a retractable roof arena capable of housing both an NBA and NHL franchise.

Once fans across Seattle stopped laughing and listened to the proposal, it wasn’t as crazy as it sounded.  In fact, it was sorta cool.

Especially since Seattle had a popular “Summer Nights on the Pier” concert series located at Pier 62/63 along Alaskan Way, that was sucking in tourists from across the planet.  That was until, the pier deteriorated so badly that the series had to be relocated.

But it was a big hit all summer long when it was going on, with 18-22 concerts played by well-known artists on warm summer nights with private small craft swaying to soft waves midst the setting sun.  Glistening waters of the Puget Sound, seagulls in the night, the Olympics beyond.  The works!

A huge tourist draw, but the venue was too small for the really big acts.

Seven years ago all the sports stations in Seattle were summoned for a new radical idea for a retractable roof basketball arena on the Seattle waterfront.  Fred Brown’s group didn’t have the funding, nor a secure site, nor even a plan, other than a conceptual plastic model on cardboard.  Hardly the kind of fiscal structure necessary to get the project rolling.

Enter Seattle developer and high-end residential consultant Nitze-Stagen & Co, who has been trying to wrest control of the 89 acre Pier 46 site from the Port of Seattle since before 2003, which back then leased it to the agency’s largest shipping customer, Hanjin, for 10 years with an option to extend it another five.

The Port, with their tight lease deals already signed,  has long scoffed at this group of developers, according to Frank Stagen, who claimed back in 2004 that one port official mocked “You don’t own one spoonful of the dirt” when Stagen’s group were probing for planning details and irritating DCLU officials for info.

Things have moved along ever since.

In fact Nitze-Stagen, the same group that just cut dirt on the new North Lot apartment project by Centurylink Field, and is involved with massively redeveloping parts of the Pioneer Square area, has a glitzy website with snazzy schematic drawings bragging about this Pier 46 project.

Entitled “Vision 46,” the debate for the site was between Containers vs Condos.  Nitze-Stagen argues the entire cargo area, which was created from backfill during the 1970s, should today be redeveloped with a mix of high-density urban village activities, such as a major hotel, thousands of housing units and offices, a cruise ship terminal, retail, education and even a trolley line.

Included in residential buildings and commercial space, is…ahem…an anchor arena building right on the water, that looks very similar to what Fred Brown’s group proposed in 2008.  A new basketball/hockey arena, just perfect for concerts and whatever else might want to retract a roof.

It’s the perfect location too.  Located at the south entrance of the new waterfront tunnel project, there’s already existing freeway connections to nearby Safeco Field, the convention center and the football/soccer stadium.

With all the connections already built, it’s a cinch.  Plus it’s close enough to the ferry’s for walkers, and light rail already connects the area too.  What’s not to love?

And with construction gearing up as the viaduct is about to be razed, the timing appears perfect too. Which is why architects are working frantically behind-the-scenes, on drawings and budgets, and why this group just managed to get the Longshoreman union to agree to let someone else use this site.

A big huge deal and reportedly THE major hurdle that was holding everything up.

Rumored to be key in this project is a retractable roof arena design.  And why not? 

On the water, large crowds of 20-25,000 could swoon to summer tunes with a removed roof in the summer.  Shows wouldn’t have to worry about the weather, because any formerly rained-out events could still carry on.

Especially if the venue was open on the water side, with a “U” shaped arena bowl facing fans towards the Olympic Mountain Range.

Imagine a new Sonics team playing Game 7 of the finals under partly cloudy skies with the water in background.  Imagine an NHL team doing the same.  Or a national political convention with sunsets and flying fish.

Not so crazy an idea after all, now is it?  But enough to get city nimrods on board who still look stupid for their comments about how the Sonics offered no cultural value?

This project has something for everyone, and with private developers leading the charge, we might actually be looking at a viable candidate,  in terms of proposed arenas in the Seattle area that have a chance to be built!

The 10 Worst Trades in Seattle Professional Sports History

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The city of Seattle is known for many things.  The Space Needle.   Fishies jumping to and fro from glistening water lining the shorelines.  Sunsets skipping across snow clad ridges.   The deep blue of winter skies.   Tossed salmon through the Pike Place Market.

It is a city in a wonderland of outdoor bliss, where rugged mountains and skiing are within an hour’s drive of 150 golf courses played year round.

But the city is also known for assembling pathetic professional sports teams run by inept and/or confused general managers.  This is the city, after all, that fumbled its beloved and seemingly permanent NBA basketball franchise with four decades of history, away to a tiny town in the tumbleweed-infested plains of Oklahoma.

Where oh where does one start in pointing out terrible trades and mind-boggling player movement associated with this metropolis?   Perhaps an impossible task with dire consequences, sure to invoke scathing rebukes by the faithful.

The top ten worst trades in Seattle sports history!

10) Mariners – Tino Martinez & Jeff Nelson to the Yankees (December 6, 1995)

OAKLAND, CA - MAY 15:  Infielder Tino Martinez #24 of the New York Yankees smiles during the game against the Oakland Athletics at McAfee Coliseum on May 15, 2005 in Oakland, California.  The Yankees won 6-4.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

I spit on the ground at the mere mention of this travesty.  The Mariners drafted Tino in 1988, and Martinez began his career playing under  Lou Pinella who was a friend of his father back in Tampa.  He had several mediocre seasons, but broke out in  1995 when he drove in 111 runs, hit 31 home runs and batted .293 during that fateful ALDS series of long ago.  In 1995 the Seattle Mariners played the Cleveland Indians for the American League Pennant,  riding the backs of two upcoming stars:  pitcher Jeff Nelson and first baseman rookie Tino Martinez.

All the team needed to do is keep what they had for years of similar outcomes.  So what did they do?  The morons shipped off Tino and Nels to the hated and despised New York Yankees for prospects  Sterling Hitchcock and  Russ Davis.

Over the next four seasons Martinez provided key hit after hit as the Yankees romped to four world championships.  Martinez hit two memorable home runs in one series, with his season statistically in 1997 when he was second in the AL MVP voting after hitting 44 home runs with 141 RBI’s.

Meanwhile outspoken Jeff Nelson, traded twice to the Yankees for mouthing off about player moves (certainly understandable) pitched for five seasons in New York, including four World Series and was a most valued set-up man for Mariano Rivera.  And although Russ Davis did hit the first home run at Safeco, this trade was a dog and one that Yankee fans are still applauding as perhaps Karma, a make-up for the Bueller for Phelps debacle.

9) Mariners – Five players to for Erik Bedard (February 9, 2008)

OAKLAND, CA - MAY 27:  Erik Bedard #45 of the Seattle Mariners pitches against the Oakland Athletics at the Oakland Coliseum on May 27, 2009 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Bill Bavasi, one of a long list of outsmarted Seattle General Managers,  assumed he was getting a sorely needed staff ace when he traded highly touted prospect and number one pick Adam Jones, left-handed reliever George Sherrill, and three minor league prospects to the Baltimore Orioles for 13-game winner Erik Bedard.   Instead they got a very temperamental and oft-injured mediocre pitcher,  who at age 29, was rumored to still living in the basement of his parents home.

When he did throw, the moody Bedard rarely exceeded 100 pitches.   Worse was the extent of a un-communicated shoulder problem that came with him, which finally led to two lost seasons of rehab which is spilling into a third.   Meanwhile newly acquired and near-rookie Adam Jones became Baltimore’s everyday center fielder, with Sherrill saving 31 games for the Orioles during an All Star summer before landing in New York the following year, and eventually to the Dodgers.

Meanwhile throw-in prospects Chris Tillman developed into a Orioles starting pitcher,  fellow throw-in Kam Mickolio pitched several games in relief this past season and continues to develop.

8) Sonics: Kennedy McIntosh for Garfield Heard (October 20, 1972)

Garfield Heard and "the shot heard round the world"
Garfield Heard and “the shot heard round the world”

The infant Seattle Supersonics were fleeced by the Chicago Bulls for a Seattle player who later played in many playoff series for three different teams.  Kennedy McIntosh, originally drafted in the first round of the 1971 NBA draft by the Chicago Bulls, best season in Seattle was in 1973-74 when he averaged 7.4 points per game.  McIntosh left the NBA in 1975 due to injury after only six games and lots of time riding pine.

Meanwhile the player they traded, Garfield (Gar) Heard, is best known for a buzzer beater made in Boston to send Game 5 of the  1976  Phoenix– Bostonchampionship series into a third overtime.  This feat is commonly known as “The Shot Heard ‘Round the World ”

Fans had stormed the court after the time was erroneously allowed to expire, and one particularly boisterous fan attacked referee  Richie Powers after it was announced that the game was not over yet. Future Sonic  Paul Westphal then intentionally took a  technical foul by calling a timeout when the Suns had no more timeouts to use. It gave the Celtics a free throw, which  Jo Jo White converted to give Boston a two-point edge, but the timeout also allowed Phoenix to inbound from mid-court instead of from under their own basket. When play resumed, Heard caught the inbound pass and fired a very high-arcing turnaround  jump shot from at least 20 feet away. It swished through, sending the game into a third overtime. However, Boston eventually won the game and the Finals, four games to two. Heard had scored 17 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in Game 5

Heard went on to play eight more seasons in the NBA and was a solid veteran, with many Sonic fans stung to fury knowing they received nothing back for key defensive stalwart who seemed to always be in key playoff series for the Chicago Bulls, Buffalo Braves, and Phoenix Suns.

7) Mariners: Carlos Guillen for Juan Gonzalez and Ramon Santiago (Jan 8, 2004)

ATLANTA - JUNE 27:  Carlos Guillen #9 of the Detroit Tigers against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on June 27, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Guillén was signed by the  Houston Astros as a non-draft amateur free agent in 1992. He was traded to the  Seattle Mariners with pitcher  Freddy García and  John Halama in the trade deadline deal that sent  Randy Johnson to the Houston Astros.

Guillén made his debut in 1998 and was traded to Detroit at the end of the 2003 season after a trade for Omar Vizquel fell through.   In Seattle, shortstop Guillén was forced to play second and third base with incumbent  Alex Rodriguez at shortstop. After Alex Rodriguez signed with the  Texas Rangers for the  2000 season, Guillén moved back to his natural position. He had a league-average campaign in his first full season with the club.

The Mariners dealt Guillen for Santiago and Gonzalez who went on to play a combined 27 games for the Mariners (all of them by Santiago). Meanwhile, Guillen blossomed into a pretty solid run producer for the Tigers, hitting .318, .320, .320, 296, .286 from 2004 thru 2008 for the Tigers.  Today he remains on the team and is a utility player providing veteran leadership.

6) Sonics – Lenny Wilkens for Butch Beard (August 23, 1972)

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No trade in Seattle sports history ticked off local fans as this early introduction to professional sports, by the Sonics.

Owner Sam Schulman pushed his staff to trade five-time NBA All-Star Lenny Wilkens, who the team had acquired three years earlier for guard Walt Hazzard, to the Cleveland Cavaliers for guard Butch Beard and Barry Clemens.

Wilkens was arguably the first Seattle superstar and clearly the most popular player in early Sonics history.  He led the club to a team-record 47-win season, just missing the playoffs, but the year following this trade the Sonics plummeted to a paltry 26-56 record.   But he was a player-coach, and then owner Sam Schulman demanded that Wilkens choose one over the other (coaching or playing).  Once Wilkens decided to play, the Sonics deemed it too difficult a situation for the succeeding coach and promptly traded him to Cleveland.

His coaching replacement, Tom Nissalke, was fired after only 45 games.   Meanwhile Butch Beard bore the brunt of everyone’s frustration while trying to please hostile crowds   He pressed and lost confidence,  and things got progressively worse as his scoring average dipped from 15.4 points per game with the Cavs to 6.6 in Seattle.

Sonic fans, feeling jilted for perhaps the first time, packed the sold-out Seattle Coliseum the first time Lenny Wilkens returned to Seattle after giving him a two minute standing ovation during introduction, making it the franchise’s second-highest game attended to date.  Wilkens’ every move was cheered while the home team was booed nonstop, beginning with the first pregame layup drill. Cleveland won 113-107

“It was brutal,” recalled Bob Houbregs, former UW All-America center and the Sonics’ general manager responsible for the ill-fated trade. “I felt so badly for him and his family. They took so much abuse and it wasn’t right.”

Soon-to-be-discarded Beard got even with the Golden State Warriors the next season by winning an NBA title with the Warriors, one of his five pro teams.  Later he coached the New York Nets & went on to other managerial positions in the NBA.

5) Mariners: David Ortiz to Minnesota for Dave Hollins (August 29, 1996)

OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 10:  David Ortiz #34 of the Boston Red Sox reacts after striking out in the sixth inning of their game against the Oakland Athletics at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on September 10, 2010 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ez
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Losing David Ortiz to Boston goes down as one of the poorest trades in Mariner history.  Albeit a somewhat forgivable move since absolutely noone foresaw Ortiz developing into what he ultimately became: a six time All Star who set a single-seaon record in 2006 for 54 home runs.

Ortiz was a post-deadline throw-in completing the trade for the pinch-hitting David Hollins as oft-ignored “player to be named later.”   Turns out the Mariners donated the farm by throwing in “Big Papi” during an unsuccessful push for the promised land of the postseason.

The Mariners were shocked when this cast-off eventually became the powerful team leader that Boston fans have adored ever since.  Ortiz’s lovable easy-going nature has been a rock in the Boston clubhouse during tense pennant races and perhaps THE most influencial party during the stunning Boston come-back against the Yankees in 2002.  His intensity with a bat is second to none. Ortiz is one of the greatest team leaders ever to play in beantown and has taken on near worship status in a city that loves their baseball team like no other.

4) Seahawks: Tony Dorsett for No.14 Pick Steve August (May 3, 1977)

16 Nov 1986:  Running back Tony Dorsett of the Dallas Cowboys looks on during a game against the San Diego Chargers at Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego, California.  The Cowboys won the game, 24-21. Mandatory Credit: Ken Levine  /Allsport
Ken Levine/Getty Images

After using their first-ever draft pick on Defensive Tackle Steve Niehaus in 1976, Seahawk management and GM John Thompson decided the team needed help in many key positions rather than just one glory running back who would get crushed behind an expansion offensive line.  Dorsett felt the same way, whimpered that he would never play for Seattle, and thus even with Dorsett’s NCAA rushing records and Heisman Trophy out there for the taking, the Seahawks went for quantity rather than quality.

Seattle made two proposals to the Cowboys. The first involved some Dallas draft choices and Linebacker Randy White. “The Cowboys bounced that back faster than we could spit it out,” Thompson says. The second was the deal that eventually was made.

Dallas general manager Tex Schramm, was rightly euphoric about landing Dorsett. “Dorsett is the outstanding back to come out of college since maybe O. J. Simpson,” he said. “He doesn’t have O.J.’s size, but there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be as successful as Simpson.” Then Schramm talked like a businessman.

“People can argue whether what we did at Seattle was good or bad,” former Seahawks front office member Bob Ferguson said years later, “but all I know is that those guys all ended up starting for us and we went 9-7 in our third year in the league.”

Fair enough point, but considering Dorsett ran for more than 1,000 yards in eight of his first nine seasons, led the league in rushing during the strike-shortened ’82 season (when his string of 1,000-yard campaigns was broken), won two Super Bowls and retired as the second-leading rusher in NFL history behind Walter Payton, there’s a strong argument that this was an epic mistake.

3) Mariners – Jason Varitek & Derek Lowe for Heathcliff Slocumb (July 31, 1997)

ST PETERSBURG, FL - APRIL 27:  Catcher Jason Varitek #33 of the Boston Red Sox works behind the plate against the Tampa Bay Rays April 27, 2008 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Both Boston fans and team management are still laughing about this pig of a trade.

The trade happened literally minutes before deadline, and apparently Woodward was working the phone lines hard. He ended up with too many irons in the fire, and as everything fell apart, he came back to Heathcliff Slocumb. Rumors leaked out that the Red Sox were asking for Derek Lowe OR Jason Varitek, but not both.   It was the Mariners that came back offering both of them.  Needless to say, it didn’t take long for Boston to agree to the deal.

Slocumb had over 30 saves in 1995 and 1996, sporting ERAs in both years around 3.00. By traditional numbers, he looked fine, but the wheels started to come off in 1997, to the tune of a 5.79 ERA with only two fewer walks than strikeouts at the time of the trade.  Looking beyond Heathcliff’s ERA (or watching him in person for that matter), Slocumb always struggled to throw strikes, and didn’t counteract that with an eye-popping strikeout rate.

His split-finger was a swing-and-miss type of pitch, but hitters often felt no need to expand their strike zone with his questionable control. Still, despite the obvious signs the Slocumb wasn’t a strong rebound candidate; M’s GM Woody Woodward bit the bullet, and put some trust in him.

In Woodward’s defense, Slocumb was added to one of those epic mid-’90s terrible Mariners bullpens. Although Heathcliff wasn’t great, he was 1 of 20 pitchers used in relief by the 1997 Mariners, which says plenty about the talent level of that bullpen.  In Seattle the rest of the season, as the closer, Heathcliff got about a strikeout an inning and his ERA went down nearly a couple runs. However, Slocumb showed his true colors again in 1998, and was gone by the end of the season.

In the end, the deal sort of worked for three months. The price was excessive, to say the least. Derek Lowe, who made his MLB debut for the 1997 Mariners (and was ineffective in his nine starts), did not take long to establish himself as an All-Star caliber pitcher for the Boston Red Sox where he posted a 21-8 record with a 2.58 ERA and candidate for the Cy Young in 2002.

Jason Varitek was still a prospect in the Mariners system, but went on to become a three-time All-Star and  Gold Glove Award winner at  catcher,and a  Silver Slugger Award winner.   Varitek was part of both the Red Sox’s  2004 World Series and  2007 World Series Championship teams.   In December 2004 he was named  captain of the Red Sox, only their third captain since 1923.

2) Scottie Pippen for Olden Polynice (June 22, 1987)

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Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Seattle held the fifth pick in the 1987 draft, but on draft night 1987, the Chicago Bulls acquired Scottie Pippen by convincing Seattle to exchange for the eighth pick, center Olden Polynice, a second-round pick and the option to switch first-round picks in 1989.   It sounded advantageous to the Sonics at the time since they intended to take Polynice anyway, but it is now known nationally as quite possibly one of the biggest stinkers of all time.  Pippen would later be named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA history.

The Bulls got this seven-time All-Star who became a vital component of the Chicago Bulls’ six NBA Championships in the 1990s.   During his seventeen-year career, he played twelve seasons with the  Chicago Bulls, one with the  Houston Rockets and four with the  Portland Trail Blazers, making the postseason sixteen straight times.  He racked up the second most playoff game appearances (208) behind only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (237). But above and beyond, his all-around game was the prototype for the next generation of small forwards.  The Bulls got the perfect compliment to Michael Jordan and one of the greatest, most versatile players of all time who could do everything.

Polynice played for eight different NBA teams in his 16-season NBA career, including two stints with Seattle.  Zero championships, always known as a somewhat mediocre if not slow methodical player and career back-up whose best scoring average was just over 12 points per game.

1) Dennis Johnson for Paul Westphal (June 3, 1980)

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How can I call this trade the worst in Seattle history in comparison to the other dogs we just mentioned?  Because this trade ruined the chemistry on TWO former contending teams, not just one.

The balance which had worked so well in both Seattle and Phoenix no longer worked as well in either city, although both teams did do well the year following the trade.  But with the exchange of these two All-Star players in this straight-up trade, neither found the dominating form that had made both teams the elite they had been during the previous years.  Part of that was obviously due to the Lakers drafting sensational rookie Magic Johnson and vaulting the Lakers to heights previously unknown, but the impact Dennis Johnson’s defense had for the Sonics is unmeasured.

Dennis Johnson was a 6-foot-4 guard and five-time NBA All-Star who averaged 14.1 points, 5.0 assists and 3.9 rebounds over his 14-year career. When Johnson retired in 1990, he was just the 11th player in history to have 15,000 points and 5,000 assists.  He was named to nine straight All-Defensive Teams.  He was a member of three NBA championship squads, two after leaving Seattle.

In what could be the best draft pick the Sonics ever made,  Seattle selected Johnson in the second round of the 1976 NBA Draft with the 29th pick and was given a four-year contract which started with a salary of $45,000 in year one and ended with $90,000 in the last year.

He had grown up on the mean streets of Compton in Los Angeles, one of 16 children. He didn’t make varsity until his senior year of high school and went to work driving a forklift in a tape warehouse after he got his diploma. He played ball in local leagues and was “discovered” by Jim White, coach of Los Angeles Harbor College.  From there, Johnson went to Pepperdine. The Seattle SuperSonics drafted him as a “junior eligible” in 1976

Four years later Johnson and teammate Gus Williams were both named to the All-NBA Second Team, and Johnson was also named to the All-NBA First Defensive Team for the second consecutive year.  After the Sonics made it to the Western Conference Finals for the third straight season, it would be the last time that the backcourt of Williams and Johnson would play together in SuperSonics uniforms.  Dennis Johnson was traded to the Phoenix Suns before the start of the  1980–81 season.

Wilkens felt Johnson was too moody and erratic, too immature and a “cancer” on an otherwise championship team.

Paul Westphal was no slough either.  Drafted by the Boston Celtics in 1972 out of USC,  Westphal played three seasons and earned a ring in 1974, and then was traded to the Phoenix Suns where he earned another in 1976.  He was a prolific scorer if not a bit soft on defense, yet defensive plays may be what he is best known for three decades later after his role in the triple-overtime win game 5 Phoenix win at Boston.  He spent one year in Seattle before being shipped off to the Knicks the following year, eventually going back to Boston and then ending his career back in Phoenix.

Meanwhile Dennis Johnson was shipped off to Boston after several years in Phoenix,  in another Red Auerbach fleecing for Celtic and former Kentucky lumbering big man Rick Robey, and Johnson went on to be a centerpiece in the legendary Lakers / Celtics rivalry on the 1980’s.   In Sports Illustrated, teammate Larry Bird, who was not known for lightly tossing around compliments, called Johnson “the best I’ve ever played with.”  Meanwhile in Seattle the Sonics were never quite the same and eventually declined into mediocrity following Gus William’s season long contract hold-out, the Sonics change in ownership and consequent move to the Kingdome.

Written by PhilCaldwell

November 26, 2011 at 12:27 pm

OKC Thunder: Oklahoma Fans Enjoy Fruits of Dirty Deeds Done While in Seattle

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Remodelofkeyarena_crop_340x234As the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder were motoring through the playoffs before finally losing to Dallasin the Western Conference finals last night, rumblings in Seattle suggest fans are still cranky about all of this.

At halftime of Game 5, Sonicgate folks were rolling out another videodesigned to remind the nation that Oklahoma’s success was at the expense of what went down in Seattle five years prior.

Meanwhile, fan forums in Oklahoma City and many other NBA cities suggest David Stern’s media campaign of lying and distorting the truth, done prior to the move, was effective in deceiving the national public about Seattle’s commitment to it’s team.

But the  war of words continues, as Seattle’s basketball fans will not drop the issue.

On a newspaper forum in Oklahoma City, “Danny,” a hallucinogenic fan writing as if he represented the average person in Seattle, claimed that folks in the Pacific Northwest did not care about any of this, and were  apathetic about their Sonics basketball team.

This, he claimed, was the true reason that the team  left after 41 years.  A message seen frequently in fan comments in Oklahoma City, as if the Thunder faithful wrestle with guilt at their new-found fortune.

Yet in Seattle, outspoken but powerless fan groups seem to be gaining momentum. Just last week the Washington State legislature assembled a task force to explore building a new NBA/NHL arena in the Seattle area.

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Seattle fans have always been the most  passionate and loyal in the country. During the early 1980s following the team’s 1978-79 NBA championship season, 35,000-45,000 Seattle fans routinely jammed the rafters of the Kingdome for regular season games.

While the NBA was packing their bags, a rival professional sports league, soccer’s MLS, discovered that its most successful and best-supported franchise in league history, was surprisingly located in the very same market the NBA abandoned. Teams have since been added in  Vancouver and Portland, creating crazed rivalries between the three Northwest communities.

Five years earlier, basketball fans in Seattle were put in the awkward situation of how to respond to new out-of-town owner Clay Bennett’s devious deeds. Bennett, whose emails have since confirmed, was attempting to make the Sonics as terrible as possible to justify moving the team to his hometown.

Players were kept far away from local media interviews, fan favorites like  Ray Allenwere dealt for draft picks that wouldn’t be productive until years in the future and the team rolled out its worst record in franchise history during its last in Seattle.

Seattle fans had to choose between boycotting games to punish the person trying to move their team or attending games and thereby enabling him to get away with it. Either way, the fans would lose in the end.

Following their appearance in the NBA  Finals 1995-96, Seattle had endured what it considered an inept general manager, Wally Walker, making terrible basketball decisions. These included the firing of popular coach George Karl, who had led Seattle to seven straight years of 60-win seasons, plus puzzling free agent signings of mediocre centers, none of whom worked out.

Newkeyarena_crop_340x234New Key Arena with, entire interior rebuilt and luxury suites added, opening for the 1995-96 season

All this was tolerated by an inept owner, Howard Schultz, who eventually traded all-NBA defensive star Gary Payton in a power dispute. The team continued a downward trend, highlighted by the stunning announcement in 2006, that Oklahoman Clay Bennett had purchased the team for $75 million more than it was worth.

But the situation started a decade prior, when then-owner Barry Ackerley demanded a new arena to replace the dilapidated Seattle Coliseum, which was built for the World’s Fair in 1962.

Plans for a new NBA/NHL stadium were rolled out that would be located where today’s Safeco Field now stands, but those plans were discarded when Ackerley picked the option designed specifically to keep the NHL out of Seattle.

Key Arena was built large enough for the best sight lines in the league but small enough to keep it ever from being attractive to professional hockey. The existing hockey floor can only be viewed by half the patrons, running under the west end of the seating area.

Still, the arena was brand-new in 1995, not the remodeled retread that commissioner David Stern claimed in his now infamous New York press conference in April of 2008.

If you remember, during the tug-of-war with Oklahoma City, the NBA Commissioner claimed that Seattle hadn’t built the NBA an  arena since 1962 and scolded reporters when they tried to correct him. The truth was the paint hadn’t dried on Key Arena before the Sonics and the NBA were back demanding another new arena.

Originalcoliseum_crop_340x234Original Seattle arena prior to complete rebuild in 1995, including floor being lowered 35ft and luxury suites added

Contrary to what Stern claimed, Seattle had actually built the Sonics the first new professional sports stadium, prioritizing the team over the NFL and MLB. The city didn’t ignore the demands of the Sonics like Stern claimed, and David Stern and the NBA not only approved the plans for the new 1995 arena, but also enthusiastically endorsed it after it was built—on  video too.

Five years later the same David Stern was infuriated when, facing the Washington State legislature while begging for more public funds, representatives like Frank Chopp reminded Mr. Stern in very terse and direct language that they had just built the Sonics a new arena.

Still, that didn’t stop new owner Clay Bennett from demanding a new $500 million arena in 2007—funded entirely by taxpayers, of course—to justify moving the team when the community refused.

This while  stripping the team of talent and accumulating draft picks for the future.

Consequently, today’s Thunder team is winning as a direct result of all the deliberate losing in Seattle. The team includes a handful of top-five lottery picks, all attained from losing seasons in Seattle and trading off Sonic veterans.

Most infuriating to fans of Seattle today is that the team has been in Oklahoma for a mere three years but has already enjoyed two years of playoffs, with the latest deep into the Western Conference finals. Clearly Bennett’s plans have worked well, but at the expense of Seattle.

Fanstryingtosaveteam_crop_340x234Desperate Seattle Fans attempt to save team in 2008

Meanwhile, in other cities, players are teaming up in major markets like typical playground bullies, leaving smaller markets like Cleveland in disarray.

But what the NBA wasn’t counting on were the same abandoned fans in Seattle taking matters into their own hands while educating the masses.

Grassroots organizations likesonicsgate.org continue to show up at games and on national TV, embarrassing the efforts of David Stern and Clay Bennett to sweep all of this under the carpet.

Locating Sonicsgate founders behind the players bench in Denver certainly didn’t help and reminded the powers that be that today’s media options make the Seattle situation impossible to ignore.

As the league moves towards an impending lockout, the last thing David Stern needs are cranky Seattle fans embarrassing the NBA while reminding the country of the corruption that removed a storied pillar team from the Pacific Northwest for what most consider a buddy payback!

Read “Seattle’s Lost Supersonics and The Ironic Message Sent By The NBA” by the same author at http://bleacherreport.com/articles/483219-seattle-and-the-message-sent-by-the-nba-by-banning-key-arena

Oklahoma City Thunder: Comic Relief from Recent ESPN Television Ratings

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This morning I was amazed after reading the headline in a Oklahoma City newspaper claiming the Thunder had shattered television records ratings on ESPN.  It made no sense.  You mean the entire country is enthralled about a team from a somewhere in the middle of the country that nobody cares about?  Are they serious?

From the story, here’s what it said:  “The Thunder broke its mark of 24.0 for Game 5 of Thunder-Grizzlies playoff series on May 11 on TNT.”

Why was I amazed?  Because if true, it would make the Oklahoma City Thunder game the highest rated program in cable sports history, dwarfing the BCS National Championship Title game between Auburn vs Oregon back in January.

That game drew a 16.1 overnight rating in its first year on ESPN. That’s 12 percent less than the 18.2 rating Fox drew last year.

But then, added as an afterthought in the homer Oklahoma City newspaper, was this little nugget saying “the ratings are a percentage of the TV households in the Oklahoma City market.”

Uh … excuse me?  Well that means the headline was just a trifle misleading!

114340737_crop_340x234Tom Pennington/Getty Images

The truth is the Thunder are breaking television records in the 45th largest market in the country, so it’s hardly relevant nationally.

Let’s put this in perspective.  According to Wikipedia (the absolute authority on everything), the population of Oklahoma City is 579,999.

The greater metropolitan area of Oklahoma City, combined with the big huge downtown city-slicker numbers, equates to 1,252,987.

Doing the math, and being deliberately simplistic with population counts vs ratings, 25 percent of the greater metropolitan number divided out, equates to 313,246 households allegedly with their TV’s on during this game.

That likely includes a third of them who forgot to turn off the set when they were out mowing their lawns.

Now let’s compare those numbers with those in the market that Clay Bennett and David Stern abandoned.  The Puget Sound region, with four times the population.

According to Wikipedia, the total population of the Seattle region is 4,087,033.

If we take the actual viewer numbers of the net population of 313k, and extrapolate that out, the ratings are somewhat less than what live fishing garners.

The numbers hover around a 7.6 in the Seattle market, let alone the surrounding markets of Vancouver BC, Alaska, and the Far East.

Let’s compare that to an actual major market like Los Angeles, where 17,786,419 real residents reside.

313,000 households would equate to a market share of .017 percent of the greater LA basin. Not exactly numbers that blows the doors off your hot rod.

Are you getting my point here Oklahoma City?

Your huge television numbers there in Thunderville are inconsequential, when compared against the more normal NBAmarkets.

But it’s not Oklahoma City’s fault.  There just aren’t enough people in the community to make it a relevant number to an average national broadcast executive, nor anyone outside of the state of Oklahoma.

Hence David Stern created a nightmare for the NBA, because what used to be a month of anticipation and excitement for millions of fans out West, has been replaced by a very small scant minority a couple hours away from another franchise in Dallas, and there is no way to significantly improve those numbers.

In other words, big TV ratings in Oklahoma City mean nothing—especially when formerly loyal markets now show about the same passion for professional basketball as an eight-year-old for his cousin’s wedding!

Nobody cares about the Oklahoma City Thunder, and of those who might have (ie: Seattle fans), most are vowing to never watch another NBA game again.

Not when David Stern is still pulling the strings, and certainly not when the same commissioner was calling a nearly-new arena dilapidated and inadequate while breaking the very lease used to coerce the city of Seattle into building the NBA a new arena in the first place!

So the moral of the story:  The lesson you taught to Seattle, Mr Stern, is now coming around to bite. Starting with that unimpressive 5.0 Thunder vs Grizzlies rating that you just pulled down last week on ESPN national!

And that was a pretty good series.  Just imagine what kind of pathetic numbers those two teams might pull in, should the series be a four game sweep!

Written by PhilCaldwell

May 18, 2011 at 3:27 pm

NBA Playoffs 2011:Pacific Northwest Grows Angrier as Grizzlies, Thunder Advance

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Sonicsvsgrizzlies3_crop_340x234There was a time not so long ago, when a series between the VancouverGrizzlies and the Seattle SuperSonics would have ignited two of the most crazed and passionate fan bases in the country.

But not any longer.

For reasons that still baffle fans throughout the entire northwest corner of the continent, commissioner David Stern decided to trade two major population centers for two itty-bitty and over-saturated middle markets somewhere in the center of the country, dominated by five separate NBA franchises.

The further each team advances in the playoffs, the angrier this part of the country becomes.

And it’s not fan apathy.  It’s fan hostility toward a now-hated commissioner and his league.

Meanwhile, the upstart Major League Soccer seized upon the mistake, where it quickly discovered how passionate fans are in this part of the country.

The Seattle Sounders sold out nearly every home game over the first three years of existence, with 30,000-people crowds growing to 65,000 and 70,000 for “friendlies” played against teams from other international leagues.

MLS success in Seattle and Vancouver makes the recent NBA franchise re-locations look even more silly and inept.

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Seattle is the premier cornerstone franchise of the MLS, with new franchises in Portland to the south, and the Vancouver Whitecaps to the north, duplicating the amazing immediate success of the Sounders.

The MLS, unlike the NBA, recognized how lucrative these two markets are, but perhaps they had the advantage after watching Vancouver & Seattle fans evolve into a typical English football rivalry so prevalent in the old country.

During the mid 1970s, the North American Soccer League Sounders vs. Whitecaps routinely hosted sold out matches, with both cities going nuts over meaningless games in early summer.

Portland vs. Seattle soccer matches were similar, with both fan bases flooding opponent stadiums and restaurants several times a year, in ways that would make Liverpool vs. Manchester envious.

During the old NASL days, Vancouver Whitecap fans would travel in massive numbers, if they could find tickets, to Portland and Seattle, and vice versa.

And this for a league that went bankrupt and folded in the mid 1980s over soccer games played indoors in a concrete cave on cherished sunny days in the Pacific Northwest.

Sports Illustrated ran stories in 1975 about this corner of the continent and the obvious fan passion.  Indeed there was a time when the NBA enjoyed this area, with the Sonics selling out the now-imploded Kingdome with crowds of 35-45,000.

89748296_crop_340x234Sold out Qwest Field in Seattle for Barcelona vs Sounder match in July of 2009
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

More importantly is the international influence this part of the country holds, for leagues wanting multinational exposure into the far east and beyond.

The NFL Seattle Seahawks and the MLB Seattle Mariners are broadcast into Japan, Korea, China, Alaska, much of the Pacific, and almost all of western Canada. But the same cannot be said for the NBA Portland Trailblazers, especially in Seattle, where Sonic fans wants no part of their former rivals.

Sadly, the NBA never stuck around in Vancouver long enough to tap into this passion.  Vancouver Grizzly teams were terrible, with one bad draft pick after another resulting in a team that never came close to making the playoffs.

Meanwhile, as the Sonics were being taken over by an incompetant owner and GM who ran that franchise into the ground, once routine Kingdome-filled crowds were failing to sell out the 14,000 seat Key Arena after a decade of questionable player moves and multi-million free-agent signings.

Eight years ago, the International Olympic Committee, a bit more enlightened than the NBA, awarded Vancouver the 2010 Winter Olympics, and gave the world a glimpse into how passionate fans in these parts are when a decent product is put on the table.

Obscure sports like ice curling and bow snow skiing were sold out months before the events.  Parties scattered throughout the city rocked on late into the night.  Local fans went nuts.  Seattle fans joined in.

2856376_crop_340x234Seattle Sonics vs Vancouver Grizzlies
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The entire downtown area of Vancouver was an on-going two-week festival that did not sleep, undeterred by sideways rain or frigid temperatures.  Each night, NBC broadcast views of glistening waters contrasted against blue skies and snow-capped mountains, in awe of the natural beauty the region has to offer.

But more importantly, the 2010 Winter Olympics exposed the fire Canadians have toward their sports.

Meanwhile, the NBA did everything in their power to muck things up, especially in Seattle, where new Sonic owner Clay Bennett spent two years deliberately sabotaging his franchise so that he could justify moving it.

Outright fan anger toward the NBA is now the norm, with local talk shows routinely fielding calls from bitter fans hating everything and anything about professional basketball.  It’s far worse than an untapped market, and it’s growing in intensity the longer the area remains without a team and more successful the former franchise is.  Several times a day fans are either writing or calling, vowing “they are done forever” with professional basketball.

Part of that is due to fans in Seattle knowing they paid the price, with franchise worst-ever seasons, which produced high draft picks that are now the foundation of the team.

Recent polls in Seattle indicate almost 80 percent of fans would rather the city pursue an NHL team than a replacement NBA squad.

Vancouverhome_original_crop_340x234Former home of the NBA Vancouver Grizzlies

Fan forums are routinely filled with scathing comments towards David Stern and Clay Bennett. Former Sonic owner Howard Schultz was recently forced to use security to keep unruly Sonic fans from dragging him out to the parking lot for a good old-fashioned tar and feathering.

Meanwhile in Vancouver, apathy towards the NBA is contrasted by near religious love and devotion towards the Canucks.

Walk any street in the province and you’ll see half a dozen normal folks wearing $125 Canuck jerseys.  The city is absolutely in love with its hockey franchise, best in the NHL this past regular season, which plays in an abandoned NBA arena.

Yet at the same time, almost zero interest in their former basketball team the Grizzlies, now far away in Memphis.

Such is the case when a league behaves as callously toward fans, as the NBA did to Vancouver and Seattle.  And the region has become hostile to David Stern’s brand of corporate professional basketball as a result.

It likely will take a remorseful and apologetic NBA several generations to recover the fan bases in this corner of the country, and a prerequisite is the removal of Mr. Stern as commissioner.  And yet with  the NBA still taunting and insulting the region by appointing hated Clay Bennett as chair of the franchise relocation committee, either the league doesn’t care about this area or are amazingly ignorant of what they have done.

97188998_crop_340x2342010 WInter Olympics
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It sends the incorrect message that they could waltz back in at any time and reclaim passion that has turned against them.

Seattle, with new football and baseball stadiums and a basketball palace that was built as the priority, before the other two facilities, is now a market the NBA may never get back.   And rightly so, as the NBA went out of their way to deceive the nation about Seattle’s devotion and loyalty to their basketball franchise.

In response, Seattle voters passed initiatives banning any more public money every go to the coffers of professional sports, especially the NBA.

Seattle, a city that absolutely loved the NBA and it’s Sonics, now curses the league.   And as Seattle’s former franchise faces off against Vancouver’s former franchise, anger grows.

And because of this, the NBA may never recover an area passionate about sports, who now has turned against a commissioner who most fans see as pompous and arrogant, and who deliberately set out to do this.

Years of apologies from the NBA may not help. Because for many former season ticket holders in the Pacific Northwest, the NBA is dead to them, and David Stern cannot seem to grasp how much damage his own actions have done to an entire corner of the continent.

View the terrific documentary on the Sonic’s move to Oklahoma City athttp://www.sonicsgate.org/

Read more from the same author at: Ghost of Supersonics Hovers over NBA, Kings Move http://bleacherreport.com/articles/667824-seattle-supersonic-situation-haunts-david-stern-clay-bennett-and-the-nba-today

Written by PhilCaldwell

April 30, 2011 at 3:22 pm

David Stern and the NBA Shoot Themselves in the Other Foot Too!

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Sonicjerseyandkevindurant_crop_340x234This past weekend, snippets of Seattle Supersonic fans were on national TV, behind the Oklahoma City Thunder bench, fervently rooting for the Denver Nuggets, as a reminder that Sonic fans are not about to forgive the NBA for what they did to one of their most historic franchises.

In 2008, the NBA and the new owner of the Sonics, one Clayton Flat-topped Bennett, uprooted the Seattle Supersonics from four decades of loyal fan support in the Puget Sound area, and moved it across the country to a market a fraction the size.

Critics screamed that it was a callous payback favor from the commissioner to one of his favored friends.

Included in the dirty dealing, was the NBA sending a pack of corporate lawyers to Seattle to break the lease the league had used as leverage to get Key Arena built in 1994.

In the process, David Stern claimed on national tv,  incorrect build dates for that facility of three decades prior, claiming the City of Seattle had ignored the NBA in favor of facilities for professional football and baseball.

Fans and city leaders in Seattle were absolutely livid.  It was not the truth, but nobody was reporting on the false information.

What is the truth, is that the Seattle Coliseum was built in 1962, not Key Arena.

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The Seattle Coliseum had been completely torn down and gutted in 1994, with the lower portion of the arena lowered some 30 feet, new luxury suits added, and a complete interior rebuilt with new rest rooms and food vendor locations added throughout.

The only thing “saved” from the old project was four rafters and the upper bowl concrete.

Seattle had this weird idea about saving the traditional look of the original Coliseum, but beyond that, it was an entirely new facility.  Even the roof had been replaced, contrary to what Stern and Bennett were claiming as reasons to justify moving the team.

Thus Stern’s 2008 proclamation that Key Arena was built in 1962, is complete fiction.

Seattle had done exactly the opposite of what David Stern claimed in that press conference.   The city built the NBA it’s facility first, as the priority project.

David Stern obviously knew this, thus every fan in Seattle was stunned to learn the lengths that the commissioner of the NBA would go, to justify a franchise move, when it was he, the commissioner, that was supposed to be policing against this kind of franchise owner deviousness.

As the Thunder plow their way through the NBA playoffs this month, fans in Seattle are feeling especially backstabbed.   The success of today’s OKC “Thunder” team is a direct result of what Clay Bennett was doing to Seattle in the years leading up to the move.

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The team was stripped bare of talent, with beloved stars traded away for high draft picks in effort to erode fan support.  Players were kept away from local talk shows and media outlets, and the team went out of it’s way to alienate Seattle fans.

Insults to the community were thus not only common, but as it turned out from emails that were discovered later, part of Clay Bennett’s strategy.  Once the fan base was destroyed, then the claim was made that Seattle didn’t support the team.

An absolute absurd claim, considering how the Seattle Supersonics took on near religious cult status, following the team’s two finals appearances in the 1978 & 1979.

Once the the Sonics won the title in 1979, the team relocated to the now imploded Kingdome, where crowds of 35-45,000 people for regular season games were the norm.

Seattle simply could not get enough of their Supersonics.

A decade of mediocrity later,  the team went through a second re-morph sis in the early 1990’s.   Tickets were impossible to find, fan fervor was at an all-time high, and the Sonics re-emerged as a league leader in wins, for seven straight seasons.

The NBA was king of the hill in the State of Washington.

So much so that in 1992, talk rumbled about how the old Seattle Coliseum needed replaced with a new facility.  Thus the Sonics spent one full season playing their home games at the Tacoma Dome 45 miles south of Seattle, and Seattle Coliseum was completely torn down and rebuilt into what it is today.

113145758_crop_340x234Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Members of the Seattle community involved with all of this, insist David Stern himself was intimately involved with both the planning and approval of that new facility back in the early 1990s.  And yet a mere seven years later, here was the same David Stern arguing on behalf of the Sonics about how dilapidated and inadequate both the arena and the lease were, demanding to renegotiate.

Which brings up the colossal bedufflement wreaked upon the inhabitants of the Puget Sound, and entire country as it turns out in 2008.  The lease that the NBA and the Thunder franchise ultimately were successful in breaking.

Back in 1993, the Sonics and the NBA agreed to a lease that would fund this new facility called Key Arena, which got the building built.

But when the team had been sold a decade later, the new owner, Clay Bennett, was determined to move the team to his home state.  So he attacked that lease.

Seattle responded by suing to enforce the lease, and the NBA responded by sending a team of corporate lawyers expert at breaking leases.  In the end, the City of Seattle, unsure about how the case would turn out, chose to settle.

Now why is that relevant to anyone outside of Seattle?

Because it set a new precedent that is catastrophic to professional sports leagues, that reaches far beyond the Seattle situation, and it affects every single professional sport dependent on stadiums or arenas.

113132960_crop_340x234Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Any time the NBA, or NFL, NHL, MLB, MLS,  feels they want to break a lease, for any reason whatsoever, just or unjust, apparently all they need to do is send in their team of expert lease-law lawyers to break the lease. Cities have little defense, since most cities don’t have the money for huge expensive legal teams, and are thus represented by low rent nerds wearing JC Penny leisure suits.

So in the Seattle case, as one would expect, the NBA essentially got everything they wanted. But in reality, it may have been more like winning a battle but losing the war.  It is hard to measure how much damage all of this caused future NBA efforts to get new facilities built.

Say, for example, the same City of Seattle builds the NBA a new arena to lure a team back, as David Stern is demanding.  What would keep the NBA from doing exactly the same thing they just did?  If you’re a Seattle City councilperson, would YOU vote for an arena, knowing what the NBA did you last time?

Seven years.  A mere seven years after it opened, Sonic team owners and David Stern were whining about how bad they had it, with their lease.  Seven years.

Five years after that, they moved the team, lying about how it was a stadium and fan support issue.

Why, therefore, would Seattle, or any other city council, trust the NBA with a billion dollars of taxpayer money?!

It would be foolheartedness to trust owners of professional sports teams, after this. And the scary part is that the original owner who signed the lease, was long gone by the time all of this went down.

A historic team was sold for an over-inflated price, in a major league market, but was allowed to move to a minor league market solely because the owner wanted to do this. That was ONLY reason.

Contrary to what was said by the commissioner of basketball, it had nothing to do with Seattle’s support of the team, or the stadium, or anything else.

Rumors still persist that David Stern wanted to make an example of Seattle, as to what happens when a league city resists NBA demands, and he certainly succeeded at doing that.

But his example has backfired.

Since cities obviously cannot trust the NBA to live up to the leases they sign, they should probably plan on financing their own buildings in the future.

This isn’t speculation either. This is documented history. This is what they did.

All the opposition (in ANY city) needs to do from here on out, is point to the Seattle situation as reason why that community cannot and should not, trust wealthy billionaires with community tax money.

And then if that wasn’t damning enough for future NBA efforts, two weeks ago they put Clay Bennett in charge of franchise locations, to end any doubt at all about remorse.

Apparently not only are they proud of what they did in Seattle, but are deliberately taunting those they did this to.

Like one shot foot wasn’t enough, they decided to shoot the other foot too.

Absolutely amazing PR stupidity on the NBA’s part!

View the terrific documentary on the Sonic’s move to Oklahoma City athttp://www.sonicsgate.org/

Read more from the same author at:  Ghost of Supersonics Hovers over NBA, Kings Move http://bleacherreport.com/articles/667824-seattle-supersonic-situation-haunts-david-stern-clay-bennett-and-the-nba-today

Written by PhilCaldwell

April 25, 2011 at 3:17 pm

Charles Barkley Rips Oklahoma City Thunder on TNT About Claiming Sonic History

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Tntbroadcast_crop_340x234As much as Sonic fans despised golf-challenged Charles Barkley when he was an 11-time NBA All-star playing for the Phoenix Suns during the mid 1990’s, it’s hard to hate on a guy who just defended jilted Seattle basketball fans on national TV, three years after ethical stalwarts David Stern and Clay Bennett’s embarrassing dog and pony show.

Sir Chuckles took issue with fellow TNT/NBA tv co-host Matt Winer’s claim that Oklahoma City is “7-2 all time at home against the Nuggets in postseason playoff appearances.”

Several moments after dropping that statement to a gasping studio crew, viewers heard a clearly disgusted Barkley break in and say “Hold on a second!  Whadda you mean seven and two all time against the Nuggets?!?”

A surprised and defensive Winer responded “Well they were in Seattle,” at which Barkley barked “That doesn’t count!  You can’t take another city’s stats!”

Cameras pulled back showing co-host Greg Anthony, nodding with Barkley’s argument.  Anthony calmly asked  “Whose jerseys are hanging in the rafters at Oklahoma City?”

Barkley screamed “Nobody’s,”  and then later scoffed that “You know me and Michael Jordan had about 50,000 points.  You’re going to  count Oklahoma City with Seattle’s stats, so I’m going to count Michael Jordan’s scoring points with mine!  We’re from the same era.  We covered the same ground. You just lumped Oklahoma City with Seattle together!”

Barkley then went on to claim his best game ever was during the 1994 Western Conference Finals against the Sonics, a game in which the Seattle faithful still refer to as a “thrown game,” due to the disparity in foul calls during the first three quarters, which led to blockbuster NBA Finals television ratings.

Still, it’s difficult not to love the guy for finally injecting some common sense into this Seattle situation.

Charles Barkley has quickly become the most beloved TNT host the network has to offer.  And it’s not only TNT where the “Barkley Effect” has been noticed.

Two years ago the Golf Channel ran a series with golf teaching legend Hank Haney, in which Haney set out to fix Barkley’s stop and go golf swing hitch.

The series ended inconclusive about whether Haney got anywhere with the famed “Round Mound of Rebound” and five-time First Team All-NBA power forward, but the ratings have never been matched by follow-up pupils Ray Romano and Rush Limbaugh.

Barkley adds a vein of player humor mixed with an everyman’s view on all things political, and Barkley is not known to be one who sits idly by while thoughtless comments are made by otherwise unassuming co-hosts.

But that’s what we all love about him—the fact that he could go off at any moment, and that he voices opinions that the rest of us are already thinking.

Was the NBA justified in moving the Seattle Supersonics to Oklahoma City?

NOYESSubmit Vote vote to see results

Being a Seattle Supersonic fan since the days of Bob Rule and Spencer Haywood, I’m about ready to send Barkley an invitation to my good-guy Sonic pal club.

It was refreshing to hear the power forward singe the airwaves with criticisms about what went down in Seattle three years ago.

Especially since Seattle is still without a team, while a pompous commissioner still pats himself on the back for what many consider the greatest injustice to a city in the NBA’s history.

Now if we could only get Barkley to deal bad guys Howard Schultz and Clay Bennett a few cheap-shot elbows like he did in the SNL skit where went one-on-one against the fake kid dinosaur Barney!

Read more from the same author at:

Ghost of Supersonics Hovers over NBA, Kings Move http://bleacherreport.com/articles/667824-seattle-supersonic-situation-haunts-david-stern-clay-bennett-and-the-nba-today

Written by PhilCaldwell

April 21, 2011 at 3:10 pm