Thursday, April 17, 2008

Sonic Bust

I'm not a big basketball fan - I remember my dad taking me to Pittsburgh Condors game at Civic Arena before that ABA team was disbanded in the early 70s. But as a Seattle native I must note the end of the regular NBA season, which was the Seattle SuperSonics worst and probably last.

Here's the tale for those with better things to do: the Sonics were owned by a large group of investors headed by Howard Schultz, the guy behind Starbucks. They sold it to a group of investors from Oklahoma City headed by Clay Bennett. At that time there was many promises of how they were not planning on moving the franchise to Oklahoma. This was followed by a series of outrageous non-negotiable demands (such as building the most expensive NBA venue in history in Renton), at which point, sadly, Bennett's bunch decided they had to move the team, and are currently waiting only for NBA approval, which they should get, since Bennett is a big fan of NBA head David Stern and vice versa.

It is all such a pity, they said, and oh, can you let us out on the rest of our lease in Seattle? Thx Bye!

Well, of course, now it turns out that the new owners were always planning to move the team, as revealed in a bunch of emails that have been turned over in a court case between the city and Bennett's brood, And these emails show an almost-Enron-level of glee in the fact that they were lying to everyone outside the group while giggling amongst themselves about how they were putting one over on the rubes in the Pacific Coast. And they are not wrong - everyone who believed them got bamboozled. So Schultz (remember him?) is now suing to get the team back, since the Oklahoma group failed to negotiate in good faith.

Good faith. That's going to be a hard one to prove, since some of the new investors are from the energy industry. They can use the argument "Well, you knew we were scumbags when you made the deal with us," and offer ample proof.

Anyway, the Sonics have gone through a horrible season. There are 82 games in the regular season (Before going to the playoff season, which rivals the Stanley Cup in that it lets almost everyone in). The Sonics won 20 of them, less than a quarter of the total, many in late-game swoons that made it appear Key Arena was equipped with a diving board. Surprisingly, this is NOT the worst record in the NBA - that belongs to Miami (This just in - Miami has a basketball team). And its now becoming pretty clear that no one involved in the actual game - fans, professionals, announcers - wants the team to go.

So stay tuned, it will continue to unspool in the realm of the rich people. At least we got the Storm back, and they managed to break even this year.

More later,

UPDATE: The NBA owners voted 28-2, to approve the Sonics moving to Oklahoma City. Voting against were the Maverick's Mark Cuban and the Trailblazer's Paul Allen.