There are times in life when the truth hurts, but with a little time and perspective things sometimes start to make sense.
Case in point, earlier this week when the NBA voted unanimously to deny a group of Seattle investors the right to move the Sacramento Kings to Seattle, I was disappointed to say the least.
How could the NBA, just five years removed from allowing a group from Oklahoma the right to move the Sonics, suddenly have a soul?
It seemed ridiculous to punish the fans of Seattle for the second time in five years, especially given all of the time, money and effort Chris Hansen and his fellow investors had made in recent years to put together what appeared to be a rock-solid proposal.
Then over the course of this week after a good deal of reading and contemplation, I came to a simple conclusion: two wrongs don't make a right.
Beyond the money, politics, and last-minute deals, the simple truth is that David Stern did not wish to make the same mistake twice.
While I fully understand that David Stern is many things to many people, he's not stupid. Over the course of this battle I'd imagine that Stern realized that he had to fight for Sacramento just as he did for New Orleans back in 2010.
"But how can you choose Sacramento over Seattle?"
To answer a question with a question, why alienate yet another team's fanbase and, by extension, put the rest of the league on notice, if you can work out a deal that spares you the hassle and embarrassment?
While it would have been easy to take Hansen's money in the short-term, Stern and the voting owners considered the long-term in protecting their loyal markets while avoiding the potential of opening Pandora's box.
By rejecting the deal between Hansen and the Maloof brothers, Gavin and Joe, Stern essentially stops any carpetbagger from rolling into town and waving his checkbook while either hijacking the town for a new arena or moving the team to the destination of their choice.
Meanwhile if there is one small positive to glean from this vote it's that hopefully other cities don't have to live in fear of ending up like Seattle, but, of course, this victory for the fans comes five years too late for the Sonics.
"That's just great, so now what?"
I'm not sure the battle is over and can see three potential scenarios moving forward:
1. Hansen accepts the vote and waits patiently to see if the Sacramento deal falls apart.
2. Hansen sets his sights elsewhere.
3. Hansen digs in and fights.
With the onus now on the Sacramento group to actually deliver tangible results, I'd imagine Stern will make sure to remind mayor Kevin Johnson that Hansen is still waiting in the wings. Besides, option No. 1, while plausible, seems a bit too passive, especially with 50 percent of the money promised by the Sacramento group now in escrow as of Friday (via The News Tribune).
How will this play out?
As for option No. 2, the idea of poaching the likes of the Milwaukee Bucks or Charlotte Bobcats is not only unappealing in more ways that I have the time or energy to describe here, but highly unlikely given the the fact that the Sacramento deal is not yet final.
So basically that leaves us with option No. 3, which, based on Hansen's response (Sonicsarena.com) to Monday's vote, makes the most sense.
What's funny is that up until now, everyone has maintained a fair level of civility in this process, yet after this week you get the feeling now that the real fight is about to begin.
Oddly enough, though, I don't know who or what to root for anymore.
Prior to this week, the Seattle bid made the most sense in my mind from a financial standpoint, but for selfish reasons as well. Once upon a time I loved basketball and over the past few months I've been intrigued by the potential of resurrecting the Sonics. At the same time I've also felt a bit conflicted in both debating and defending the ethics of the situation.
This week for me though was the tipping point, though, not so much with the vote, but the response to it.
Between the cries of hypocrisy (Tacoma News Tribune), to the suggestion of poaching the Bucks (seattlepi.com) and even questioning whether Seattle has been "too nice" in the process (Seattle Times), left me to question whether everyone had lost their minds.
Don't get me wrong, I'm still disappointed, but I also feel we look petty in having lost this round while perhaps losing sight that we still have a ways to go before this matter is resolved.
Even worse is all the venom seen on message boards between both Sacramento fans or even among ourselves, not to mention the endless blame of David Stern for all of our troubles.
Fact is, it's not like anything is going to change suddenly the day after he retires next winter.
Stern is and forever will be a hated man in Seattle, no matter how this deal turns out. Deep down I'm almost certain he knows that and that nothing short of turning back the hands of time will change that.
With that in mind, he did everything he could to make sure it didn't happen again, this time in Sacramento.
"Ok, but did he do so in an honest and fair manner?"
Some day a judge and jury may get to decide that, but does it really matter for now?
Unfortunately, odds are only one of us will win, unless Hansen somehow manages to get an expansion team out of this mess either by suing or as a going away gift from Stern.
Regardless, everybody needs to hang tight, hopefully remain civil in the process and understand that Seattle and Sacramento are not at war with each other. (I know I'm kidding myself here, but feel free to amuse me for just a minute or two.) Having been on both sides of this debate now over the course of the past five years, I can safely say that we are merely pawns being played against each other in a game well beyond our control.
Understanding that now has helped me accept that whatever the league decides, whether I like it or not. For as much as I'd love to see the Sonics return to Seattle, I can appreciate the league's desire to maintain some form of continuity while hopefully keeping the fans' best interests in mind.
It's a damn shame that it took them five years to figure that out and involved crushing our hopes and dreams, not once, but two times in the process.