No matter your opinion on the ongoing saga between Clay Bennett, David Stern, and the City of Seattle, you cannot disagree with the sentiment that this situation has become much, much more difficult than either of the first two parties anticipated.
Whether you believe Seattle is reaping the fruits of years of ignoring the “problems” with the KeyArena lease, or if you believe Bennett is fully within his rights to pick up and move the Sonics, you must also believe that Clay Bennett – and David Stern right alongside him - is sweating bullets these days.
How can I be so sure? Because people who are convinced they are going to win court cases do not start slinging wild accusations in federal court, that’s why.
Bennett’s lawyers filed motions in Federal District Court on Wednesday, a number of which are sealed at the present time, but the motions in essence question the integrity of the City of Seattle, whether the city truly is revealing the true cost of the remodeling of KeyArena, and whether there is collusion between the proposed ownership group and the city. (You can find the a PDF links here).
Looking at the documents, you can only come to one conclusion – this entire situation is going to give the National Basketball Association a black eye unlike anything it has ever seen. Already, months before the court date, acrimonious charges are being bandied about, by both sides. From the city:
“When the current owners bought the Sonics, the NBA required ... that the new owners make ‘good faith best efforts’ for a year to keep the Sonics in the Seattle area. ... In the midst of the ‘good faith best efforts’ period, the owners deceived the NBA about their actions and true intentions, which from the outset were to move the Sonics to Oklahoma City. As an apparent result of this deception, the NBA began taking the new owners’ side by endorsing their claims about the Lease and KeyArena.”and
“The NBA refuses to produce responsive documents [the city was referring to financial records pertaining to profit and loss] ... The NBA cannot involve itself in the events underlying the litigation and simultaneously refuse to provide necessary discovery.”And on and on. Further, reading Mayor Greg Nickels’ deposition, and the adversarial tone taken by Bennett’s attorney, you can only imagine how the events will proceed in court, when Slade Gorton and his crew get the opportunity to cross-examine Clay Bennett and David Stern.
Nope, Brian Robinson was right all along – the NBA doesn’t want anything to do with a court case, and the city – as well as the rest of us, now – knows it.