Oh what a tangled web we weave,
When first we practice to deceive
—Sir Walter Scott
The Seattle Times is on top of the story, with Jim Brunner explaining how Clay Bennett, Aubrey McClendon, and Tom Ward were excitedly discussing moving the Seattle Sonics to Oklahoma City last April, six months before the October 30 deadline they had given Seattle for coming up with a new arena.
There is plenty to read in the emails (here and here), but I believe everyone would agree the most telling is a missive from Bennett dated April 17, 2007. Bennett was responding to another email from Tom Ward (you remember Ward, the guy who thought the best way to use $1 million was to spend it fighting gay marriage), wherein Ward asked if there was any way possible to relocate the team prior to the 2007 season. Sayeth Bennett:
"I am a man possessed! Will do everything we can. Thanks for hanging with me boys, the game is getting started."
Remember that phrase "do everything we can," because it gets repeated in an email to David Stern, with a slightly different connotation. Bennett's email to Stern came in August, fresh on the heels of the McClendon gaff about the new ownership group always intending to move the team to Oklahoma City. Sayeth Bennett to Stern:
"The deal for me has NEVER changed; we will do all we can in the one year time frame ... to affect the development of a successor venue to KeyArena."
In addition to lying to Seattle, Bennett lied to Stern, telling him that the ownership group had NEVER discussed moving the team to Oklahoma City, when in fact they did just that in the emails from April of that year, four months prior to Bennett telling Stern they never discussed it.
It makes you wonder, if Stern fined McClendon $250,00 for the quote in the Oklahoma City Record, what sort of fine will he impose upon Bennett for his misleading remarks?
But back to the "all we can" remarks. Remember those coaches that told you in high school that giving 100% isn't enough, that you must give 110%? I always wondered how it was physically possible to give more than all you could, it just seemed idiotic to me.
But I stand corrected, because while Clay Bennett was giving "all he could" to keeping the Sonics in Seattle, he was also doing everything he could to move the team to Oklahoma City.
For two years now, we've been searching for a proper nickname for Clay. There's been Clay-Clay, Gay-Clay, Okie, and so on. None have fit properly, but that changed today. From henceforth, only one nickname will fit for Clay Bennett:
Clay "110%" Bennett.
So, what happens next? Anybody care to place a guess as to what David Stern will do in response to these emails?
C. Act like a pompous jerk
E. All of the above
This is fun, but will it make a difference? Day 1 Bennett said Seattle had a year to build an arena. Anyone surprised he secretly hoped they wouldn't? It doesn't change the fact that no one in Washington paid any attention to the deadline or him. E-mails don't change the fact that the mayors only plan was to hold the Sonics to their two year lease and no one in Olympia besides Margarita Prentice even cared that much.
I blame Howard Schultz on this one. He should have never sold it to someone that was going to move the team. I think I am going to now stop going to Starbucks! Anyone want to join me?
I don't know why those email exchanges strike me as creepy and corny, but they just do. When was the last time you emailed someone and said, "That's the spirit, you big possessed man, you! Let's kiss!"
Hoodoo What do you mean!? This is BIG! for the simple fact that it PROVES bennett has been lying the whole time! To us, to Stern, to everyone! This is great! Proves all of our suspicions were right, AND it makes stern look like a dumbass!!! hahaha!!!
I'm as willing to blame Schultz as the next guy (even moreso, usually), but perhaps he is innocent in all of this. Perhaps when Stern approached him about selling the team to Bennett, the thinking was that it would take an out-of-town owner to convince the local governments to get on board with building a new facility.
I'm not saying that's the true story, but it is a possibility.
Doublec: I completely agree, especially in regard to this line from Bennett:
"You are among a very few, notwithstanding our relative brief actual physical time together that have significantly affected my life."
The aspect which shocks me the most is that Bennett and his co-horts could so cavalierly exchange those emails, without ever suspecting they would be used against them.
^^Hahaha! Guess they aren't as smart as they perceive themselves to be! huh Nuss! And no Okie trolls posted on here yet!? I'm shocked! AAhahahaha!
Stern couldn’t get the Hornets to OKC without looking like he’d dumped on New Orleans… so they devised a plan of buying the Sonics… ripping their hearts out… tearing down everything and everone involved… lying, cheating, colluding… knowing they’d get caught… bringing the Ballmer group in to buy the Sonics and get a new arena… in the meantime acquiring draft picks for the Sonics so they’d be set and happy… not to mention a renewed sense of civic pride for warding off the NBA and the evil owner from OK… Sonic Nation never so unified… while all along the Hornets get set to leave New Orleans under much better circumstances… they gave it a go… returning to the one City who embraced and loved them… passionately… both cities get the franchise they want and love… fans in both cities are invigorated and elated… Stern comes out looking fine and his legacy as a commish is untainted… Bennett’s the bad guy but… OKC has a Pro team…
Stern might react negatively, maybe fine Bennett up to $1 mil but I don't know how far he'd go in terms of ultimate actions. This is his opportunity to bend or pivot if he wants to, for league purposes or to protect his own image.
Schultz is not to blame here. Neither is Bennett really.
This falls completely on David Stern. He knew what Bennett wanted, and allowed the sale to happen.
It's Schultz right to sell the team. Bennett was a buyer with the money. Stern's job is to ensure the sale happens in the best way for the league. He didn't. He failed as a commissioner.
Does it surprise any of us to see what we already strongly suspected. All he did was to ask for a half billion arena in Renton, who most in the Puget Sound area feel negatively about. I am convinced it was his plan all along to alienate and dishearten fans by the above and gutting the team of stars and hiring a pathetic coaching staff who can not connect with the young players. It has been from day one a recipe for leaving all along. I wonder how the egg tasts on David Stern's face?!!! Shame on them all.
Did anyone see the Yahoo.com article?
Wish folks would "buzz it up" so it can stay on the Yahoo front page for a while.
Let's try that again:
Read this... we need to get to the bottom of this!!!
You're right, ey, it's very hard to say anything about this situation because of sheer incredulity.
Again, I cannot believe a group of three men such as Ward, McClendon, and Bennett are so foolish about e-mails. I know they are of an older generation who did not grow up with email, the internet, and so on, but still, their utter stupidity in exchanging such words is mind-boggling.
Josh, your defense of Howard Schultz disgusts me!
These guys were idiots to commit anything to e-mails, but some of them have been left out of the articles. There's one about Sabey from June 2007 that says, "Dave Sabey does have a good location and an interest in putting something together. We spoke on Friday and he would like to connect in 30 days when he has more to talk about." and there's one early one from Ward that says, "I assume I will be ready to sell there and work on a team here if they build an arena." Those two don't fit with the theory that there was never any intent to get an arena deal or that they wouldn't have accepted one. They might have been forced to stay if it had gotten done, but they would have stayed, and Bennett was talking to Sabey it looks like. Those statements can't be blown off just because they don't fit the "Clay Bennett was going to leave regardless theory." I'm pretty sure he had to stay if an arena was built. Most cities have bent over backwards to get arenas done when an owner asks for one, and Seattle is going to look kind of unaggressive and disinterested in comparison to Charlotte, Houston, Memphis, Orlando.
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