There will be much more discussion of today’s events to come, but allow me to give a few bits of my opinion, based on the pieces of the press conference I was able to watch.
1. David Stern tried very hard to play the role of Regretful Leader before the press, but his animosity towards the Northwest is very evident. His description of Slade Gorton’s efforts to keep the team in Seattle as a “scorched earth policy” was illustrative of how he views the proceedings. At another point, he described his interpretation of the way the pro-Sonic faction in Seattle acted towards himself as “We’re gonna kill you” if you try and take our team.
2. Stern also wound himself up to avoid answering Chris Daniels’ questions regarding the emails. Much has been made of Stern’s lack of analysis of these emails, especially in regard to the fact that Clay Bennett was less than forthcoming about his group’s discussions of the team relocating to Oklahoma City. In a previous press conference, Stern claimed he had not studied the emails and was therefore in no position to comment upon them. Daniels pressed Stern today to see if he had managed to find the time to study them yet, but Stern dodged the question, and when Daniels attempted to redirect him towards an answer, Stern angrily cut him off, commenting, “Live or not, I am not going to be interrupted. I did not interrupt you when you were speaking. Let us proceed to another question.” Considering the vital nature of those emails, it is disappointing that Stern would hide behind petty rules of etiquette to avoid answering the question.
3. Stern also would not rule out a return to Seattle at some future date (“I never say never”), but indicated it would be unlikely given the current situation.
4. The meatiest part of the conference was, obviously, Clay Bennett’s attempt to clear up any “misunderstanding” of the emails he exchanged with partners Tom Ward and Aubrey McClendon in April of 2007. In those emails, as you all know, Bennett stated, and I quote:
"I am a man possessed! Will do everything we can. Thanks for hanging with me boys, the game is getting started."
This was written in response to Ward’s email, in which he wrote:
“Is there any way to move here [Oklahoma City] for next season [2007-08] or are we doomed to have another lame duck season in Seattle?”
Incredibly, Bennett said the intent of his email was completely opposite of what the press and the public interpreted it to be. “That exchange took place after the bill died in committee,” Bennett said, referring to the failed proposal in Olympia for a new arena in Renton. “When I said I was a man possessed, I meant I was a man possessed to get this done in Seattle.”
Obviously, Bennett’s comments defy logic, especially when you consider the response Ward wrote to Clay after his “man possessed” statement. To wit:
“That’s the spirit!! I am willing to help any way I can to watch ball here next year [emphasis added].”
So, apparently, not only were the public and the press “misinformed,” but Bennett’s partners as well, as they obviously interpreted his claim of doing anything he could to mean doing anything he could to get the team in Oklahoma City.
5. Even more curious, Bennett admitted that, “Aubrey and Tom wanted a team to be in Oklahoma City all along, but that it was not to be the Sonics.” He went on to say that, “They were behind me every step of the way.”
Huh? I know, it sidesteps any pretense of logic. Why would Ward and McClendon be interested in giving their money to buy a team they could never watch? If they really wanted a team in Oklahoma City, why would they “be behind [Clay] every step of the way” as he tried to keep the team in Seattle?
There was much, much more to get from the press conference, but I honestly couldn’t watch the entire conference due to work constraints. I’ll leave it to the reporters on the scene to fill in the blanks.