Greg Johns has the write-up here.
Obviously, Slade Gorton is not a fool, and if he senses that David Stern would be willing to commit a future expansion team to Seattle in exchange for a new and/or remodeled arena, he feels it is worth pursuing that option.
Kudos to Gorton for having the dignity not to take Stern's ridiculous insults personally, and for looking at the big picture. Personally, I think the favored options for Sonics fans would be, in descending order:
1. The current team stays, we keep Durant, Green, et al, Bennett sells at a loss to Steve Ballmer and rides back to Oklahoma City with his tail between his legs.
2. The current team leaves for Oklahoma City, Seattle gets an expansion team.
3. The current team leaves, we steal a team from another city.
4. The current team leaves after two years in Pacific Northwest Purgatory. We get neither a replacement nor an expansion team.
It's easy to say, "this team or nothing," and a large part of me wants to say that, simply because of the disgraceful way the NBA has acted. Another part of me, a much smaller part, admits that any team is better than no team.
And, remember, if the "Sonics" move to Oklahoma City, won't that give us at least one game a year where we can boo the living heck out of a visiting team? Can you imagine a greater scenario than screaming "Oklahoma Sucks!" at the top of your lungs while the NewSonics beat the OldSonics?
Something to think about, anyway.
With 10 being the best, 0 being neutral, and -10 the worst, this is how I would rank your outcomes:
1. All stays 10
2. Expansion -2
3. Stealing -10
4. Losing team -1
At this point, the only way to pursue outcome 1 is by making the team stick to the lease (given that we win the lawsuit). By doing that, we will eliminate our chances of getting outcome 2, which is fine with me.
About your idea of booing the Oklahoma "Sonics", I don't think I would enjoy it at all. I don't want to boo Durant, Green, Collison, et al... The players can't help what the owners do--it seems they all want the team to stay.
I thought of that, too. It's not fair to the guys on the team, but I think chanting "Oklahoma Sucks" leaves the team out of it.
Also, agree with the stealing part - but I think that wound would heal over time more easily than not having the NBA at all. After all, Laker fans don't feel very guilty about taking their team from Minnesota, and when was the last time a guy from Philly got all hot and bothered about San Francisco stealing the Warriors?
I know times are different now, but, as they say, time heals all wounds.
As distasteful as it sounds, I would not be fully against taking a relocated team if the Sonics were to leave, if only because it is most likely that that team would be the Hornets, and it is obvious right now that they have no future in New Orleans. I'm not saying the good people down there won't root for Chris Paul and a possible championship run, but how long will that really last? 2 years, 5 years, maybe 10? Sooner or later George Shinn is going to demand a new stadium (with there certainly isn't any money for) or he's going to sell the team (and I can't think of anyone who is willing to lose millions upon millions to keep them there). Within 5 years I truly believe the Hornets will be ready to move on, and it's just a matter if they end up somewhere like Las Vegas or San Diego or St. Louis, or here.
I would feel horrible about taking any team, but especially the Hornets after what New Orleans went through. Plus, if we were to get the Hornets, would that mean Shinn had sold the team? I can't see why Ballmer and everyone else would be willing to fork over 150 mil. to build a stadium so that George Shinn can make some more money.
My point isn't that we should try and steal the Hornets if the Sonics lose, is that it is VERY likely that they'll move to a new city in the next few years anyway (but only after Shinn sells the team). There are plenty of reasons why:
- The Hornets have only been in New Orleans for about 5 years.
- They play in an arena just as "outdated" as KeyArena, if not more so (at least, according to David Stern).
- There wasn't a large population that had disposable income to spend on Hornets tickets and merchandise, even before the Hurricane.
- The Hurricane has displaced a great many people from New Orleans, and a lot of them haven't came back. And the ones that have come back are still trying to rebuild their lives.
- Unlike what President Bush would like us all to believe, New Orleans hasn't recovered from the Hurricane, and large segments of the city still remain in ruins.
- George Shinn isn't from New Orleans; he only moved the Hornets there because Charlotte wouldn't give him a new stadium...and by the looks of things, he won't get one from New Orleans, either.
Now, I'm not saying I WANT the Hornets to relocate here; I'm saying the Hornets ARE going to move on at some point. I really do hope that, on the back of their current success, that enough fans come out to create some lasting support. Except that, will that support last, if the team returns to its losing ways? To be honest, a part of me is furious that Stern is trying so hard to save basketball down there, while gleefully allowing it to wither up and die up here. He knows that Seattle has a brighter future for the NBA than New Orleans, but for various reasons he is distorting those facts for his own gain. If there isn't any long-term solution to saving pro basketball in New Orleans (which, again, has only been there for the last 5 years) then they're just going to end up getting sold and moved somewhere. If they are to be moved, I'd rather they come up here to replace the Sonics, than another small market city with no pro teams, but is willing to throw a ton of stadium money to secure them. That's just the way I see it.
A couple of things that should be said on the topic.
David Stern is definitely trying to stick it to Seattle here. He's got an agenda against the city, and the posturing against buying (another) a new arena for a wealthy ownership group.
One question about Ballmer: Why didn't he do this in 2006?
One question about Gorton: Do you think David Stern will guarantee the prospects of an expansion team after what he's said about the city and the people in this state? (I certainly do not think it's a possibility.)
I think Gorton is afraid that Stern and Bennett will play the City's bluff on the next 2 years. I can see why too. Durant and Green being 2 reasons from a basketball standpoint. 2 years of "losing" money (if that even exists for billionaires) for Bennett's group may entrench them to say we'll just wait it out, and do our thing in 2010.
That being said I think the best policy is keeping the team and working out a solution over the next 2 years. Why? Oh let me count the ways:
As J.L points out, and as has been reported on ESPN, and probably the Times-Picayune, the Hornets have an escape clause if they don't draw a pre-requisite amount of fans by the end of the 2008-2009 season. There's a strong chance that the Hornets could be in OKC before the Sonics move there. If Bennett doesn't have OKC in his back pocket, and he may not, then what's the point of pursuing the expansion team?
I think Gorton is making the smart play, and I think he's trying to see how desperate Stern is, but I think Gorton is trying to get money and a team if he can, and if that's the only way that Seattle can "have" a NBA team. Do I think it's a wise play? I think it's wise to say so in the papers since most of the media coverage has focused on that (like Steve Kelley's column week ago Sunday column saying that focus should be on an expansion team). I personally think it's a dumb play myself which ignores the total landscape of the current NBA with several failing newly re-located NBA cities (New Orleans and Memphis) already toiling in the big & bad NBA.
However, and I think this needs to be said too, I think Gorton, as I think more & more about it, is trying to make it so that Stern either changes his policy, or the owners do. After all Stern has said no expansion team is out there for the NBA as the expansion market is tapped out. I agree with that, and maybe Gorton understands that, and realizes that ownership around the current NBA may not value an expansion franchise over the Sonics leaving Seattle. If that is in fact Gorton's play then it is both a wise and deft move from a person in the public eye. Been awhile since I've seen that.
I'm not really convinced that an expansion team is a possibility at all. Even if Stern were to bend and agree to the idea, he would still need the owners to agree with him, and I don't see that happening. I can't see any owner (outside of possibly Paul Allen for political reasons) voting for a new expansion team.
As for taking in the Hornets, I would agree to it only if 1) the Hornets have horrible dwindling fan attendance and huge mounting financial losses , and 2)a Seattle group buys it from George Shinn straight-up, with the explicitly stated intention of bringing the team to Seattle.
Also, Henry Abbott in True Hoop mentioned that when the Sonics applied for relocation for each of the next three years, the Hornets were the one team that vetoed the 2nd and 3rd year applications by stating a rule saying that you can only apply for the upcoming season. Could that mean that the Hornets are looking to move to Oklahoma City in a year? That would be HILARIOUS.
From what I understand, because Bennett has signed a lease on the Ford Center already, that precludes another team from moving to OKC. I could be mistaken, but that's my understanding. That's not to say that the Hornets wouldn't be able to move to Seattle, though, or somewhere else. Those with a better understanding of the rules, feel free to correct me.
Okay Nuss I understand that, but what good does that do Bennett if he has to keep the Sonics for the 08-09 season? (I also don't think it's an absolute guarantee that the Hornets miss the fans in the seat's either. It will be very close I do believe.)
Oklahoma City rocks. If you guys want to watch the Sonics you should just move here. It is a great place and then you can stay Sonic fans.
I really don't understand why people in seattle have anything against oklahoma or it's people.
If you wanted the sonics to stay in seattle then you should of built a new arena.you didn't so the sonics are coming to okc where they will be adored.
What's really funny is this team with Durant and green already on board and probally a top two pick on the way with five other picks in the draft will be challenging for the WC crown for years to come!! serves the city of seattle right that for the next several years your going to have to watch the sonics win big in OKC..Imagine the okc sonics as nba champs!! thank your city leaders and quit blaming everybody else when you only have yourself to blame..Ha HA Seattle your loss has become our gain
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