In an email written by Clay Bennett just two days before the sale, Mr. Bennett confided to his co-owners that he was comfortable with the Purchase Agreement’s good faith provision because, in the event a Seattle arena deal could be negotiated, the Oklahoma City group could simply sell the team in a “sweet flip,” and leave Seattle, and the Oklahoma City group “would still be in good shape for something in OKC.Unbelievable. Again, unbelievable.
How about we take a turn at playing “Guess David Stern’s Reaction!”.
1 – “The commissioner does not comment upon ongoing legal proceedings.”
2 – “I have not studied the emails, so I can not comment on them.”
3 – “Crap.”
Personally, I have always believed, and Stern mentioned this at one point if I am not mistaken, that the league was hopeful that an out-of-town owner would be more likely to persuade the city and/or state to cough up some money for KeyArena, inasmuch as out-of-town ownership holds a heavier sword over the neck of the local politicos than local ownership. Therefore, Bennett’s Oklahoma City ties would likely work in the league’s favor by prompting the local government to give in under threat of relocation.
But that’s where the plan went sideways. As Schultz’ lawsuit alleges, it appears that Bennett and his group had no plan at any time to keep the team here. It is entirely possible that Bennett not only defrauded Schultz, but Stern as well. As much as I despise Stern – and that’s a great, big bundle of despise – I do not believe he would be happier with a team in Oklahoma City than Seattle. While he would be willing to accept the relocation in the light of keeping the extortion threat alive for other teams in other cities, in a perfect world he would rather the team stayed in the larger city. It’s just common sense.
However, perhaps Stern was fooled by Bennett. We’ve already witnessed how owners such as Larry Miller in Utah were completely unaware of the situation in Seattle, and how their only information came from Bennett’s mouth. Well, perhaps Stern was acting similarly. We already know he’s a pompous and arrogant man who despises this city and its politicians. Is it that much of a stretch to think that he just disregarded everything coming from the Seattle media and websites such as SonicsCentral and relied on the information Bennett was providing to him?
If so, at what point does Stern cut his losses with these Okies? How many more emails need to be unveiled? How close to his deposition date, when he will be confronted on these emails? He’s not going to be able to cut off the prosecutor with the same petty reasoning he did at the press conference last Friday, he will have to answer questions he doesn’t want to answer.
I don’t know the answer to those questions, but Clay Bennett may be having some very interesting conversations with the NBA’s offices in New York in the next few weeks.
It’s about damned time.