Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz announced his intention to sue Clay Bennett and his Oklahoma-based ownership group for control of the Seattle SuperSonics today. The Seattle businessman previously owned the team before selling the franchise to Bennett and a handful of other Oklahoma businessmen.
If Schultz is successful, Bennett and his partners could be found guilty of a breach of contract and might lose their rights to the team.
The basis for the lawsuit is the recent release of e-mails between Bennett and the other owners explaining their intent to move the Sonics to Oklahoma as soon as possible. Normally, this would be within his rights, but Bennett made a promise to Schultz as a part of their contract that a "good-faith effort" would be made to keep the basketball franchise in Seattle.
The e-mails in question were sent in the midst of Bennett's self-described "good-faith effort." ESPN reported that in one e-mail Bennett even wrote, "I am a man possessed! Will do everything we can. Thanks for hanging with me boys."
If this is true, Bennett proved he is guilty of breaching his contract, and also that he has poor grammar.
The interesting story to come will involve Bennett's longtime friend/accomplice, NBA Commissioner David Stern.
If Stern, a lawyer, were to further side with Bennett during a possible ownership legal battle, he would undoubtedly face a no-confidence vote from NBA owners around the league. If Schultz is successful, however, Stern will have committed himself to a losing battle and might be seen as ineffective by the owners.
April 15, 2008: A bad day for Clay Bennett, David Stern, and those who left their taxes to the last minute. A wonderful day for the Seattle SuperSonics, the NBA, and true basketball fans everywhere.
Could Schultz be returning his attention to the SuperSonics as a way to save his image in Seattle and elsewhere? Is he simply trying to become a "hero" in order to bring a boost to Starbucks' slumping sales?
I couldn't care less...
Save the Sonics!