Could the Sacramento Kings still become the Seattle SuperSonics? Is there still hope?
One thing is for sure. Chris Hansen is not going away. Hansen and Steve Ballmer are not giving up. In fact, they seem all the more determined that this is going to work.
As recently tweeted by the investment group:
These things take time. Know your passion for the #Sonics does more than inspire us. It sends a strong message the NBA belongs in Seattle.— Sonics Arena (@sonicsarena) April 20, 2013
Undeterred by the decision of the Clay Bennett-led Relocation Committee to deny a move, Hansen upped his offer for the Kings to a reported $625 million (via ESPN). He is apparently testing the truth of the old adage, “money talks.”
Granted, this is not just about money. It is about rules, territories, egos and the complexities of big-boy business. Backroom deals, rhetoric and politics have all been a part of this process.
The challenge for the fans is that the whole situation is not exactly transparent. The ESPN article notes this about the competing offer from the Sacramento group, led by Vivek Ranadive:
In a backroom deal cut just before the relocation committee vote two weeks ago, Ranadive sweetened his offer considerably when he promised to forfeit tens of millions in revenue sharing to fellow owners in the coming years.
Sound a little fishy? It gets better (or worse):
While it wasn't an outright bribe, it was a direct path to the voting owners' pockets that leveled the playing field between the bids. The Seattle group was confident it presented the better financial offer because of the larger market.
The word “bribe” should obviously be used with some caution, and while ESPN didn’t say it was a bribe, the word still found its way into the sentence. Translation? It was a bribe...even though it wasn’t. Confused yet?
Why do I have a feeling that this might end up in court at some point in the future? And I’m not talking about the hardwood court. Major sports leagues walk a very fine line when it comes to the principles of collusion. In theory, the Maloofs own a business and they would like to sell that business to someone else. The Maloofs are in favor of the Seattle group.
One assumes that the bylaws of the NBA have been scrutinized by teams of high-priced lawyers to make sure that any risk of legal challenges are avoided. Still, sports leagues have ended up in court before. It seems reasonable that they might again.
Despite setbacks, Hansen does not appear to be giving up. At the moment, the Kings still represent the best opportunity to get a team in Seattle. It seems very unlikely that the NBA would expand, given that one could make an argument that shedding a few teams would not be a bad idea.
Hansen can keep doing this because people are behind him. Pete Carroll is one:
Can Hansen overwhelm the owners with cash or will commissioner David Stern quietly stop the move while saying all the right things to the camera?
The plot thickens. Hansen is not going quietly into the night.