A Sonic Boom

By Gregory Moore
Updated: April 16, 2008

SAN ANTONIO — Poor Sonics fans. Howard Schultz sold the beloved basketball team to Clay Bennett of Oklahoma City.

In the midst of now a pending lawsuit coming from Schultz to undue a binding contractual sale to Bennett, the citizenry is being led by some very naïve, incompetent and otherwise befuddled city and state officials who are now crying that they may soon lose the only professional basketball team that they truly know.

Poor Sonics fans. I hear your cry but I don’t feel your pain. Welcome to the world of billionaires having millionaire toys folks. Welcome to the world of being caught in the middle of the Hatfield and McCoy battle known as team ownership.

Here’s where things get really interesting and why amnesia amongst some parties involved is as common as the common cold.

Does anyone remember why Starbucks’ owner, Schultz, sold the Sonics in the first place? Because he couldn’t get a new arena built by the time 2010 rolls around.

Okay, does anyone know why the Sonics may end up being in Oklahoma City by 2011? Because their lease is up at Key Arena.

Open and shut case right? Yeah, right.

If it were so open and shut and if the politicos involved really gave hooting owl’s care about the Sonics, why are they continually pushing for this team to play in that old arena?

Psst. Seattle residents. Get rid of these yahoos before they end up costing you your city. When the sale first happened almost two years ago, here is what Mayor Greg Nickels had to say.

“I’m going to take them at their word that they want to stay and we’ll work with them ,” Nickels said. “We think they will play in the Seattle Center until 2010.”

“The new owners would receive the same offers as given to the ownership during many negotiating sessions”, Nickels said.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet the political figure that is letting a beloved team walk out of Emerald City because of pride.

Bennett didn’t hide anything from anyone and if you’re savvy enough in following sports, when you hear an owner say, “We’ll evaluate our options in the coming year”, that usually means one of two things: 1) that relocation is a possibility or 2) that relocation could be a possibility.

But what is really befuddling to me is why Schultz and this high powered law firm thinks they can tell Bennett what to do after the sale is complete? Talk about elevators not going all the way up to the top on this one.

Let me help out Mr. Schultz for a minute because evidently the Java beans are clouding judgment.

First, Schultz sold this team to Bennett and he didn’t have any reservations taking $350 million for it.

Secondly, if Schultz wanted the team to stay in Seattle, why didn’t he just keep it?

Oh, and here’s a good one. How do you undue a deal that has been approved by the NBA Governors and for the past 20 months or so was no big problem until the very last home game?

Let me answer all three of those questions for everyone else: because Howard Schultz feels remorse.

There is no remorse in a $350 million dollar deal people. You get over it real quick.

Remorse is the fact that you had to get rid of a team that was costing you money in the short and long term because it plays in a dilapidated arena that does not generate enough revenue for anybody owning the team.

That’s the problem Nickels and everyone else has; they don’t see the dollars and sense it takes to run a professional entertainment company like the Sonics. To them this is not a business but a luxury for a rich person.

Psst. Mr. Nickels, ever know what it feels like to be able to write a $350 million dollar check?

Yeah. Me neither.

That is the problem Clay Bennett is facing with not only Schultz and this ridiculous lawsuit. He has to deal with the incompetence of elected officials who do not realize that a new arena, one in which he is willing to put $100 million of his own money into, is their best option.

Instead of these elected officials helping Bennett keep the team in Seattle, they want him to pay the majority of the costs.

Well as the owner of the team, if he doesn’t like the rules, doesn’t he have a reason to say no, essentially taking his marbles [the Sonics0] and going home [to Oklahoma City]?

It’s mind blowing. It’s mind-boggling.

It’s actually something that had been talked about in the media for months on end and now SOMEBODY wants to do something?

Are they serious?

People of Seattle wake the bleep up and smell what your elected politicians are doing to you. Instead of them working with team owners, they are forcing them to do the unthinkable; sell a local product.

Realize that guys like Schultz and Bennett are multi millionaires because they make good business decisions.

There was a reason why Howard sold the team to Clay and it was because Howard couldn’t get an arena deal done by the time 2010 rolled around.

There is a reason why Clay is going to end up moving the Sonics out of Seattle and it is because of the very same reason why Howard sold it; because he can’t get a new arena deal by the year 2010.

Realize that sports franchises like the Sonics are businesses in themselves and these owners do not like having money pits for hobbies.

You want this team to stay?

Then fire the mayor and every politician who can’t get it through their befuddled head that Key Arena is a nightmare.

If you don’t, let me welcome you to Oklahoma City; home of the best fans in the NBA.