|Chris Hansen: You won't like him when he's mad. Aw, who are we kidding? We'd totally still love him.|
I was never really a fan of taking the Sacramento Kings. We'd basically be doing the same thing OKC did to us, only we were using the excuse of being honest about it. Well, just because someone warns you before they kick you in the nuts doesn't make it hurt any less.
But this was how you got a team in the harsh 21st century economic reality of the NBA. Kill or be killed. Every basketball fan for themselves. No survivors. WOLVERINES!
Sure, I wasn't real happy about how this sausage was being made, but after a few years in the NBA wilderness, I'd probably pinch my nose and eat it.
So when the NBA relocation committee (consisting of a whopping seven team owners, including good ol' Clay-face) announced on Monday afternoon they had ruled against the Kings moving to Seattle, I admit I was a little glad I wouldn't have to abandon what little scruples I had left in regards to finally getting a replacement for my dearly departed Seattle Supersonics.
The best chance we had at snagging another city's team was gone. Five years of anxiously hovering like hungry vultures over dying basketball franchises was history. And the NBA had stated clearly that expansion, the only truly guilt-free way to enjoy the Sonics in Seattle again, was not going to happen. So it was over.
Well, at least I was now free to unleash my full hatred upon the NBA. Or, you know, not watch as many regular season games. Perhaps I could finally find some peace. Or maybe even a new sport. I wonder if Seattle has a professional handball team?
But then, something crazy happened.
Chris Hansen, the dashing young rich kid who had swept us off our feet with his dream of bringing the Sonics back to town, was expected by most to quietly defer to the grownups of the NBA and go back home to await an expansion team that would never come. Conventional wisdom (aka cynical old NBA reporters and David Stern lackeys) was that no one with any dream of owning a basketball franchise would ever cross the league. I mean, what was he going to do . . . sue the NBA?
Welp . . .
In 1969, car salesman and future MLB commissioner Bud Selig (What's with these commissioners, anyway?), shanghaied Seattle's new baseball team, the Pilots, and brought them to Milwaukee, where he changed their name to the Brewers. Seattle, going against conventional wisdom, sued the league for breach of contract, since the city was already building the team a brand new stadium, the illustrious Kingdome.
The lawsuit dragged on until 1976, when the league finally gave in and offered Seattle an expansion team. (Unfortunately, it was the Mariners.)
Any of this sound familiar?
Late Monday night, Hansen announced on SonicsArena.com that he was not pulling out from his deal with the Maloofs to purchase the Kings. Even more interesting was this closing paragraph:
When we started this process everyone thought it was impossible. While this represents yet another obstacle to achieving our goal, I just wanted to reassure all of you that we have numerous options at our disposal and have absolutely no plans to give up. Impossible is nothing but a state of mind.Could it be that Hansen has been playing this angle all along? Maybe Seattle wasn't the pawn after all. Maybe (and I know we're getting into Jesse Ventura Conspiracy Theory territory here, but just hear me out) Sacramento was the pawn.
Maybe, like many Seattle Sonics fans, Hansen felt a little uneasy about taking another city's team and wanted to force the NBA to award Seattle an expansion team by using his greatest weapon: lawyers.
By overpaying for a franchise David Stern desperately didn't want to move, Hansen was basically daring the league to stop him. And when they did, Hansen's team of Ultra Lawyers would be there to greet them.
A lot is made of how rich and powerful the NBA is. You know who's more rich and powerful? Microsoft.
Steve Ballmer, the other half of the dynamic Seattle Superteam, eats billion dollar international anti-trust lawsuits for breakfast. Which is kinda gross. But do you really think a few years in court with the NBA is going to faze the Ball Man? The guy is crazy about basketball (and also just crazy) and one of the richest men in the world. If you've witnessed the way Microsoft has done business over the past 20 years, you will know the Scorched Earth Option is definitely on the table.
So here's my prediction: When all is said and done, Hansen will call Stern's bluff and at least threaten a lawsuit, forcing the NBA to give Seattle an expansion team (even if it means imploding another team or two).
And hopefully, when the trials and flamewars are finally over, our new expansion team will be a little better than the last one we got in a lawsuit.