Anyone else beginning to feel a little queasy whenever the Sonics appear in the newspaper, or on the radio, or on television?
I lived through the Grizzlies’ departure from Vancouver, and I can tell you from first-hand experience that this situation is beginning to smell an awful lot like the stench that emanated from that one.
As Art Thiel points out today in the PI, Benikens is making it look as though Britney Spears is running the PR department. From the firing-by-telex, to Lenny Wilkens’ apparent screw up on anointing himself Team President, to Clay Bennett’s musings about Las Vegas, the Sonics are slowly descending into Clipperland, circa 1996, when a team routinely screws up everything it touches.
In fact, I think if you checked the “Robert Irsay Guide to Moving a Franchise,” you’d see that Bennett and Co. have gone according to plan:
STEP ONE - Check
Find team to purchase. This is important.
STEP TWO – Check
Attempt to put positive spin on non-local ownership taking over a beloved local institution. Make not-so-funny jokes about the differences between your hometown and your new team’s location.
STEP THREE – Check
Find some local types to put in “important” positions.
STEP FOUR – Check
Make obligatory efforts to keep team in town, keeping Commissioner and League happy, as well as intimating that you don’t want to move. Be sure that the requests you make would never be accepted by local government, though; you don’t want to screw up and not be able to move the team!
STEP FIVE – Check
Gut front office.
STEP SIX – Check
Start stonewalling media. Remember, no news is good news for your plan. The more you get people to hate you and your team, the easier it will be to move!
STEP SEVEN – TBD
Agreed; the way the Sonics have handled the press in the past 7 days has been pretty abysmal.
I think at some point Bennett needs to hand over the reins to Lenny and let him be the face of the franchise here. I know it stinks when you shell out $300 mil. plus for something, but I feel as though the city is slowly (maybe not so slowly) turning against Bennett and the Sonics. Lenny, however, still has a decent relationship with the region, and if he is the one doing the talking, perhaps things will go more smoothly. Maybe that's why he was on KJR and in the Times. Should be a good way to go. (Now, if he can just stick to the company line and quit giving himself titles, it'll be even better).
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