Posted by: natehughart | October 20, 2009

Sonicsgate is now up

I have hardly made it a secret that I live in Seattle. I try to avoid the entire aspect of this for a variety of reason’s. The biggest, most obvious reason is that I feel this is respective of how the NBA does business.

I could say it hits home because the Kings are a part of Sacramento, and have remained so for nearly 25 years. (In 2010-11, that will be the 25th season.)

The problem I find with all of this, and there are a lot of problems here, is that there are many fingers of blame. However, I’d just like to say this documentary is worth watching, regardless of where you stand on the issue, I would suggest educating yourself on what the issue’s were with keeping the Sonics in Seattle.

Here is the Sonicsgate site. Also, partly because I enjoy the site, but mostly because there is a bit of talk going on there, a link to SuperSonics Soul which was a pretty awesome blog about the Sonics themselves. (Still is, but now the focus isn’t about NBA basketball as much.)

The documentary brought up some good issue’s though, that I think partly relate to the Kings situation, but mostly because I think if you’re arent aware of history than you’re doomed to repeat.

Charles Van Dyk (and I’ll admit I’m rewatching it and just heard this) of “People for More Important Things” had a great quote: “The problem with this issue is that it’s a national problem fought locally.” I don’t have a single problem with that. I don’t know that it solves the issue’s with the Kings, though. (Unfortunately.)

There is a bunch of issue’s that brought up things I wasn’t aware of.

  • When Howard Schultz sold the Sonics to Clay Bennett in 2006, his ownership group was so split that the final vote was 5-4 in favor of selling
  • Even though hindsight is 20/20, there is widespread belief that the Sonics would be in Seattle with the current economic situation given how much money Clay Bennett, and minority owner Aubrey McLendon, lost during the recent economic difficulty
  • There is substantial belief that the ballot measure passed in 2006, to basically not fund sports teams, would have not passed if people recognized the difficulty and/or double standard it creates when you ignore how other private businesses are funded
  • Paul Lawrence, the lead attorney at the trial for the city of Seattle in 2008, wanted to see the decision that the Judge Marsha Pechman came down with (the settlement that Nickels and the city of Seattle announced was hours before the decision was supposed to have been handed down)
  • I wonder if the city had lost the trial vs Bennett and the Sonics, that an appeal would have kept the Sonics in Seattle
  • I also wonder why the NBA, and David Stern, had no interest in forcing George Shinn to sell the Hornets to Bennett and allow them to stay in OKC rather than New Orleans

One of the interesting things is the number of players in recent years that Seattle has produced. But, they put out a pretty big list of players who are tentatively from “around” Seattle. Other than Luke Ridnour, who is from Blaine WA (which is almost in Canada), most of the players are from Seattle.

Doug Christie (who is actually quoted a number of times throughout the documentary–and was actually drafted by the SuperSonics in 1992), Michael Dickerson (you might remember him from the 97 Arizona championship team that Mike Bibby played on), Jason Terry, Jamal Crawford, Luke Ridnour, Nate Robinson, Brandon Roy, Aaron Brooks, Rodney Stuckey, Marvin Williams (he’s actually from Bremerton), Martell Webster, Terrence Williams and of course Spencer Hawes. Of those players, what strikes me is how many G’s have come out of Seattle.

I’ll say this. Greg Nickels, the now defeated mayor who lost in a primary in August by 2000 votes (as you’ll see if you watch the whole 2 hour Sonicsgate documentary), will probably be remembered for 2 things. One, is obvious, and it’s letting the Sonics leave. But, if you ask people around Seattle, you’ll find that a lot of people don’t like Greg Nickels for one reason or other and the Sonics are just another bone to throw on the pile of disagreement. In fact, I think he would have been re-elected had he not chose to put sand on the ground after snowstorms last winter.

In the end, anyone who tells that the fans of Oklahoma City are to blame are wrong. They aren’t. They wanted NBA basketball, and were willing to tax themselves to do it. I’m not going to tell what people in a different state to believe or do.

Clay Bennett, among other things, represents 2 different points of contention. Obviously, as a businessman with regards to the Sonics and Thunder, he is a sneaky fuck who took 4 decades of pain, dreams and expression from Seattle.

On the other hand, Bennett is a quality owner who has put a lot of money into the Sonics/Thunder roster by making trades that would not necessarily help the team over the last few seasons alone. (I think he was willing to do this because he knew he it would be easier to run Sonics fans out of Key Arena by putting out a difficult product to get behind. I don’t think I have to explain to Kings fans how much fun rebuilding is, right?) But, had the Sonics stayed in Seattle for that time I don’t know that Bennett would have done that. (Which was a risk he certainly took by doing them.) By stockpiling draft picks (2 1st round picks from Phoenix in 2008 and 2010) for taking Kurt Thomas from Phoenix for nothing, it allowed the Thunder to have a major draft chip in next year’s draft. This doesn’t even mention that they could have a top pick themselves if things don’t work out. (I would venture that in an ideal world, Phoenix has a rough season and gives up their pick to OKC while the Thunder contend for the playoffs.) Then, during the season the then-Sonics traded Kurt Thomas to the Spurs for their 2009 draft pick. Plus, during the last season in OKC, the Thunder made another move getting another 1st round pick (that they eventually gave up) from Denver in exchange for their 2nd round pick. As I say, Bennett is not a terrible basketball owner. He just fucked the Seattle fans in the process.

I’ll leave with this. What happened with the Sonics is an issue that I think touches a lot of bases. There was ego, money, power, greed, desperation, inspiration, foresight, lack of foresight, every thing that describes the ultimate Greek tragedy really is pretty much existent in this story. I can promise you that I blame a lot of people for this, but here’s my ultimate list for whose to blame in this story about the Sonics leaving.

  1. David Stern–largely because of the policy that public funding is mandatory for the NBA to be in your city
  2. Frank Chopp (Leader of the House Majority for Washington State)–for creating a hostile environment to never get a Sonics solution funded
  3. Greg Nickels–for not following through with the trial as he had said he would
  4. Howard Schultz–because he’s a slimy snake oil salesman
  5. Clay Bennett–Duh?
  6. Other ownership groups in Seattle to step up to keep Bennett from buying the Sonics in 2006
  7. The people of Seattle for passing a bill they didn’t fully understand in 2006

I blame a lot of people in this mess, and that’s why. There’s a lot of finger pointing here, and yet, it’s the way this deal works. If you haven’t watched Sonicsgate by the time you’ve gotten around to reading this, you really should. It’s not about one thing in particular; it’s about the buildup of time so to speak. Even if you hate sports, or politics, or don’t care about the Sonics, you really should watch. It’s about a good deal more than that.


Responses

  1. [...] If you really haven’t watched Sonicsgate, please do so. (Fair warning, though, it is 2 hours long.) You can also read my thoughts here if you wish. [...]


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