Wednesday, September 26

Catch-22

This is something I've been hesitating to say for the past few months, but thought I might as well get it off my chest before I dismiss it entirely:

If the City and/or State decides to be pro-active and build a new arena for the Sonics, and Clay Bennett remains the team's owner, would I be happy with the result?

On the one hand, my favorite team stays in Seattle, and I'm not forced to watch Kevin Durant play in the Western Conference All-Star game as a member of the Oklahoma City Sonics and all the history (Gus Williams, Downtown, Shawn Kemp, GP, JJ, Lenny, et al) stays associated with Seattle.

On the other hand, Clay Bennett and his group benefit tremendously, and their investment of $350 million gets handsomely rewarded. As wonderful as it would feel to be able to watch the Sonics in InsertCorporateSponsorHere Gardens, would that be countered by the feeling of bitterness towards Bennett for the way he blackmailed the city to getting what he wanted?

As a parent, I routinely tread this tightrope: Do you reward your child's bad behavior by giving them something, just so they'll stop crying/fighting/throwing dangerous objects? Or do you stand your ground, force them to their room, and endure 15-20 minutes of screaming? It's a difficult decision to make, and I try to go with the right one (the go to the room option) as often as I can, telling myself that I'm paying 15 minutes of screaming now for in return for future calm.

I see a strong parallel in the two situations. Bennett, like a four year old, is whining and pouting because he can't get what he wants. He's hoping that said pouting will result in getting the treat (a new arena) he wanted, but are we not equally culpable if we give him this treat?

Honestly, I don't know the answer. In a perfect world, Bennett would throw up his hands later this year, sell the team to local ownership, and a consortium of municipal, state, and private parties would work together to build a suitable arena for the team. In that world, David Stern rides in on a white horse to save the day by brokering a deal to give peace to the Northwest.

But that may not happen, and we could be faced with the first option, wherein we get to keep our team, but in the process reward the man who threatened to take it away. You've got to ask yourself: Is it worth it?

16 comments:

t dawg said...

I do think that your 'white horse' scenario will happen. Not only that, but I think Stern is sitting back and watching for just the right time to make his play.

Then he allows Bennett to buy one of the other struggling franchises, or promises him an expansion team.

And anyone that says there isn't enough good talent in the league for an expansion team is grossly mistaken. There may not be enough talent in the league at this moment in time, but there is more talent across the world than ever before, and more accessibility to that talent.

Not only that, but with the league rule changes, teams are actually starting to get a little older and more mature. Fewer 20 year old self-entitled a-hole players, better play. Physical talent doesn't always trump basketball IQ, and the league will be better for keeping the Sonics in Seattle and for getting OK City an expansion franchise, if that's what it takes...

pappy2525 said...

of course it's worth it. anything is when it comes to keeping the team in seattle.

ryan said...

If my two options are

1) No Sonics and no new arena for Bennett

2) Sonics and new arena for Bennett

Then I guess I swallow the vinegar and take the medicine and go with option 1. If it makes you feel better, you realize that by letting him go to OKC, he's winning as well. So, really, it's eitehr Bennett wins and gets a new stadium here or Bennett wins and gets a new stadium in OKC. At least if he wins here, we get to watch the Sonics.

Unless it's option 3, and he loses and we wins. That would be the bestest of all!

t dawg said...

to counterpoint my prior argument, found this through TrueHoops.

http://www.seattleweekly.com/news/blogs/buzzerbeater/2007/09/clays_corporate_counterpoint.php

this doesn't give me encouragement...

howard u said...

No, it is not worth it. F Bennett.

David Stern has alreday made one mistake by allowing what happened with the Hornets. Let's hope he doesn't just watch as another one happens.

Still, T dawg's link just gave me the chills...

anonymous #12 said...

If/when a new arena deal is approved, Bennett becomes an footnote in my book. Likewise for Howard Starprick.

mcwalter44 said...

I don't think a parent vs child parallel is accurate. In that in most cases the child is dependent on parent and they do not have the option to just leave town for a better situation. I don't see a sports team a necessarily dependent on it's home city. If they wanted they could build their own stadium (see SF Giants). So in a sense they are dependent on the city there in to help them build a place to play, however it's not as though the city has any authority over the franchise or the NBA. That said, the whole whining over not getting what Bennett and Co wants is totally child like, so I see the metaphor working on that angle.

A better example might be a divorce where the two parties have kids (the kids are the Sonics fans). Both partners have financed a home, car, etc. In most case the mother of the children ends up with the kids, so think of Bennett's threat like a mother threating not only a divorce, but to take the kids with her back home to Oklahoma unless the city (the father) buys them a new home. At what point do you sacrifice the kids (the fans) to tell your wife to go F@#$ herself and move to OKC?

Ok, mabye that metaphor doesn't work so well either. The point is that Bennett's threats aren't just a kid whine about not getting a new toy. It's much bigger, in that they already have another toy just wait for them if they leave. What we need to do as a city and as Sonics fans is what circulated earlier in the week, which is to appeal to the "wife's parents" or the NBA league offices. Write to Stern, write to other owners. Post on forums like this and get the message out that Seattle want their team.

Finally, GO TO AS MANY SONIC HOME GAMES AS POSSIBLE. Don't give Bennett and this OKC crew the leverage of saying that we gave up on the Sonics. To steal a line from Warriors playoff run "WE BELIEVE" in our team regards of their record, roster and god awful ownership. I know that I'm personally planing on going to 4, maybe 5 Sonics home games and I'm down here in San Francisco.

mcwalter44 said...

Also, Bennett sold out of his ownership in San Antonio after his failed attempt to move them to OKC in the mid-90s. So, if we build that new stadium, then he might just sell again and try to get another franchise into that crap hole of a state.

AK1984 said...

Apropos of the situation between the City of Seattle versus the Professional Basketball Club, LLC., I prefer the analogy about divorce rather than the one referring to parental relationships with their children.

Anonymous said...

Of course it's worth it. Frankly, even though I loathe Clay Clay for trying to take the team, I like the moves he's made on the basketball side. If the team stays, hopefully Presti and company stay too regardless of whether Bennett stays or goes.

JulianW said...

It's pretty clear that Bennett wants to grab the team and run for the hill(billie)s. The Sonics staying in Seattle would be a resounding defeat of his vision.

Dave said...

My plan:
go to 10-15 games wearing a "FU*K BENNETT!!! Stay in Seattle!" shirt, that way I support my team and express my views eloquently :)

matt said...

It's not worth it to sacrifice 500 million in public money. If bennet drags the team to the dustbowl, it'll be good for years of gloating down the line as he struggles to stay in the black.

If he has to stay in Seattle and doesn't get the arena he wants? Even better.

As long as the public money goes towards something that serves the public (like keeping bridges/the viaduct from collapsing), I could care less what Clay thinks. The outcomes I support involve him either being stuck in Seattle without a sweetheart arena deal or trucking back to OKC and losing buckets of money. Both of those leave him a little worse for the wear.

Anonymous said...

To whomever said "GO TO AS MANY SONIC HOME GAMES AS POSSIBLE."...WHO are you kidding?!?! Don't know if YOU are rich or what but I work hard for my money, and yes I'm a HUGE what-used-to-be-Seattle-Sonics fan, but I like to see value for my hard earned money! Not to mention, I don't want Clay Bennett having any of my money!! He is just trying to take the team back to OKC and blow smoke in every Seattelites face using the arena as an excuse. Having absolutely no all-star caliber veterans on the team, and 2 rookies who have never played a minute of PRO ball in their life and a rookie coach equals a JV squad at best...we are going to get killed in this 'rebuilding phase' and don't you think otherwise - and lets not forget these rookies are still 19 year old kids. Maybe we can get Danny Fortson to mentor them.
You need to check this article out about how Boston is breaking ticket sale numbers from getting PROVEN veterans - http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=3037594 - great and very true quote: "Winning is the best marketing," Celtics president Rich Gotham said Wednesday. "The second-best marketing is the hope of winning."

RIP Seattle Sonics - it was good until Shultz & Bennett screwed us!

mcwalter44 said...

To the anonymous coward and Matt,

Why are you guys in even post on this forum. The reason I ask is that the coward has already written the team off for dead and Matt sounds as though he wants this cake (keeping the Sonics) and ice cream too (fix other things in Seattle by keeping the Sonics in the Key Arena).

First off, Seattle Center is the crux of the problem for the Sonics, because their lease can not be renegotiated because the Seattle Center would collapse for lack of funding. This why the proposed revamp of the Center with a new stadium is a solid idea and why guys like Chris Van Dyke are teaming with Brian Robinson of soincscentral.com to make it happen. That said, the it's frankly insane that the City of Seattle hasn't replaced the Alaskan Way Viaduct. Seriously that thing would pancake just like the Embarcadero Hwy in San Francisco did if you're city ever was the center of 6.0 quake. I understand why people are put off by the Sonics request, but to say that they must stay in Seattle and continue to lose millions on economic inadqueate stadium is ridiculous notion.

One last note for the anonymous coward, dude I'm not rich, at least not in Bay Area terms. I wonder if you also complain about Mariner prices when Smuylan ran the Mariners or when Behring ran the Seahawks. Both of those crampy franchise got stadiums, were as the Sonics (only Seattle team to win a major sporting championship) agreed not to build in the SODO and then under Ackerley graciously accepted a remodel of the Coliseum, when in reality they should have played hard ball because they were the only winner Seattle ever had. I personally think your comments about not supporting a loser are BS, because under you're logic the Mariners would be in Tampa and Seahawks would be in LA.

Vin said...

In the case of the Mariners I think it ended up being worth it. The Nintendo led group "saved" baseball in Seattle and then threatened to take it away until they finally got what they want and now the team is flourishing. Sure, there are deep seeded organizational problems that may keep the team from ever truly contending but Safeco is a great place to watch a game and the team is a money maker.

In this case though, the answer is no. The Mariners threatened to move to get what they wanted, the Sonics are threatening to move because their owners really want them to move. A big difference.