Blog Entry

The Supersonics and Oklahoma City

Posted on: April 24, 2008 1:43 am
Edited on: April 24, 2008 1:51 am

This whole situation is driving me nuts...Are they coming or aren't they? I do have to say that much of the crap I have read from both sides is rediculous more often than not. Let's summerize what we have learned so far by most people that have posted:

1. Many people from both cities are ignorant and hateful.

2. Many people from both cities assume rather than follow sound logic.

3. Many people from both cities have different ideas about how things are run or should be run but do not have the power to do so.

I've waited until now to actually voice my opinion on the matter. I think I've had enough to digest and now I can try to sort this out for myself.

I sat in my seat at the Ford Center during the preseason when the Hornets played their final game here in Oklahoma City. I was devastated. We knew it was temporary (with the inner hope that they would somehow be moved here) but we grew extremely attached to CP3 and the rest of the Bees. When the final buzzer sounded, I wondered when we were going to get any pro sports team and that answer was given in the form of Bennett's relocation application he filed with the NBA. The arena deadline passed and the Sonics were wanting to start packing the van.

Now this whole situation is going to end like this: It doesn't matter what you believe, it only matters what you can prove. And because some people believe a certain event proves a case, does not make it so. So I'm absolutely astounded by the number of fans in OKC and Seattle that pretend to be lawyers for whatever side we choose, but I cringe that the boards are filled with mostly stupidity, or baseless arrogance that cause both sides to look bad.

I've lived in Oklahoma City for most of my life and I can't really complain. I've been raised by wonderful parents, gotten an amazing education in this state's great schools and universities, and worked in downtown Oklahoma City for almost nothing because I absolutely loved the people I worked with. Since we had no pro sports teams here, my major league interests were in teams out of state. One of which is the Mariners. I've been an avid Mariners fan since I watched Griffey's sweet swing for the first time and had my love cemented when he famously slid across the plate in '95 to beat the Yankees. And I think of how it would probably be too weird if the Mariners would not be in Seattle anymore. I don't live there and I would be heartbroken. The Mariners are synonymous to Seattle, just like the SuperSonics.

At the same time, I welcome the SuperSonics to Oklahoma City with open arms. But they are here only in theory right now as there are still things going on with the situation. We can only speculate the results of the upcoming events. I have waited so long to have a sports team to call my own and if they come here, I will do so without reservation. I will buy season tickets and support them whole-heartedly. I figure as a sports fan, I feel I would somewhat owe the fans of Seattle such support. In my opinion, I hope that everything to do with the "Supersonics" stays in Seattle and the team coming here (if they do) should have their own history, colors, and name and I know I'm not the only one who feels that way. Seattle would probably want to puke if they saw that 's' logo on our floor. Frankly, I would be sick over it too. Not because Bennett has done anything wrong, but because I don't want a reminder that the Supersonics are no longer in Seattle.

Let me clarify, based on what we have been shown, Bennett has not broken the law, and none of the allegations *HAVE BEEN PROVED* thus far.

In the side letter that seems so damning to Clay Bennett, it reads:

"Dear Mr. Schultz: We wish to confirm to you personally some of the key elements of the conversation we had with you yesterday. As discussed, we do not believe that KeyArena is designed to support the requirements of a viable NBA franchise, and thus achieving a modern successor venue and lease arrangement will be critical to the future success of the teams. In this regard, we would assume the mantle of the current ownership group in seeking to acheive this important next step. Moreover, it is our desire to have the Sonics and the Storm continue their existence in the Greater Seattle Area, and it is not our intention to move or relocate the teams so long, of course, as we are able to negotiate an attractive successor venue and lease arrangement. Our commitment to you to use our good faith best efforts over the coming year to negotiate such a venue and lease arrangement in the Greater Seattle Area provides further concrete evidence of this intention. In addition, we will obviously assume all of BCOS' obligations regarding the KeyArena Use Agreement at closing and intend to honor those obligations just as the current ownership group has done. We are thrilled to have this opportunity, and would like to thank the entire Sonics and Storm organizations for making it a possibility. Sincerely yours, [signed] Clayton I. Bennett Controlling Owner and Member"

This letter does not "misrepresent" anything that Bennett has done this far. Since Schultz accepted this letter at the sale, then everything in this letter are terms upon which Bennett and Schultz have agreed upon. They both agreed that KeyArena could not support an NBA franchise and that a new building or a better one that exists will be critical to the teams success. Since Shultz was actively seeking a new arena, he knew that Bennett was also going to per said letter. Bennett also says it was his desire to have the Sonics and Storm continue their existence in the Greater Seattle Area, and not their intention to move or relocate the teams as long as they could get the deal done. In no form or fashion does this letter indicate that (Insert all Sweet Flip arguments) he planned on or was committed to owning the franchise in Seattle long term. If an arena deal was reached, then the teams would continue to exist in the Greater Seattle Area and he would sell. There is nothing wrong with that! It does not prove that he planned on taking the franchise to Oklahoma City (Sweet Flip argument over).  He did hire architects, lobbyists, and recruited legislators to write legislation to no avail.

Bennett states: "Moreover, it is our desire to have the Sonics and the Storm continue their existence in the Greater Seattle Area, and it is not our intention to move or relocate the teams so long, of course, as we are able to negotiate an attractive successor venue and lease arrangement. Our commitment to you to use our good faith best efforts over the coming year to negotiate such a venue and lease arrangement in the Greater Seattle Area provides further concrete evidence of this intention."

Bennett set a deadline over that "coming year" to get a deal done. A deal was not done, thus the move or relocate option could become their intention. My question is, if Howard Schultz was all upset about the Sonics leaving, why didn't he say anything when Bennett claimed relocation was a possibility if a deal wasn't done in a year when the statement was made over a year ago?

I will most certainly agree that the "good faith" is a grey area that was not defined clearly and is a topic of debate. Since it is debatable and not clearly defined outside of this letter, I don't see any judge determining what good faith is or isn't and/or justifying his/her case decision with it.

Now the lame duck e-mail..

"Is there any way to move here [Oklahoma City] for next season or are we doomed to have another lame duck season in Seattle?" Ward wrote.

Bennett replied: "I am a man possessed! Will do everything we can. Thanks for hanging with me boys, the game is getting started!"

Ward: "That's the spirit!! I am willing to help any way I can to watch ball here [in Oklahoma City] next year."

McClendon: "Me too, thanks Clay!"

Honestly, I believe these guys were talking about Oklahoma City. But all of the ‘Oklahoma City’s’ were put in this e-mail by the media when they released these things to infer what they were sure to be true. The owners ‘could’ have been talking about just watching the games at home…on TV after the sweet flip. Since this could be a case, this e-mail does not prove that they meant to take the team out of Seattle all along.

As for Oklahoma City not being able to support a team. With our only dress rehearsal with the Hornets, we were in the top half of the league in attendance knowing that they were going home. We packed the house many nights with 19,163 rockin fans. Without getting into figures or the “subsidized” ticket crap…Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda…we got it done with what we were given. There is no reason or evidence to say we can’t do it again. So what if it is new, OU football was new once…and with the stockpile of draft picks the team has racked up, I expect the team to be very competitive soon.

While Bennett has been demonized and called a lie, cheat, and thief… he has done everything he said he was going to do. There has been too much talking in Seattle but a lot of doing in Oklahoma City. The only crime in this case is that the fans and voters of Seattle never got the chance to be heard. OKC got things done in a very swift manner in order to bring a team here. The politicians in Seattle balked. No funding package that came up was allowed to be voted on. The argument was I-91, Two arenas already put up, It rained, or Santa only had 8 reindeer. Save our Sonics busted their tails calling and e-mailing the entire leadership in Olympia and maybe even Whoville, but they were always given the cold shoulder until it was “too late.” So the leadership wants to stand tough and beat their chests saying ‘we will not bend to the will of tyrants‘…but they did for the Seahawks and Mariners. None of this proves that Bennett was going to take the team out of Seattle all along.

But what I will never understand is why Schultz couldn’t wait to sell the team to ANYONE ELSE except someone from a city that just put on an audition for the league. I’ll never understand why he let the language through in the side letter. It practically reads like a permission slip.

While this isn’t over yet since there are no guarantees, I am truly sorry for the fans in Seattle, but I promise that if the team ends up here, I will treat them with respect and love them as much as you. Hopefully you do keep your 41-year history so that this heartbreak does not have to be in it. Please do what you think is best for the city, whether it be settling or pressing forward, just make sure you do it together. The lack of teamwork in Seattle is costing you so much and maybe more if it doesn’t get together soon.

The NBA is a business, and like any business, they could possibly leave town. It is within the right for Bennett and the NBA to do so and they did it. It’s down to the lease now and that will be decided soon. I don’t think Bennett is doing anything that Howard wouldn’t have done, only his business is in Seattle, where else would he go?

I expect the side suits to go away (Schultz, season ticket holders) because nothing can be proved that this deal went down in bad faith. And here is to hoping that the two cities will continue to be successful in the future. Not just in basketball but in all areas of life.

And for the record, I’ve grown up in Oklahoma City, no I don’t plan on marrying my cousin, yes I do have a very vibrant vocabulary, rather superfluous really. But most importantly, I’m proud to be an Oklahoman, with or without the NBA. And none of that proves Bennett meant to take the team out of Seattle all along.



The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or