An Open Letter to David Stern Regarding the Seattle Supersonics
Yes, I know the NBA is a business, just like telecom or IT or construction.
And yes, I know that you must go for what is financially best for the association. But the planned eastern migration of the Seattle Supersonics, frankly, sucks.
Now, being a former lawyer, I am sure you are only backing this as legally it is on the up-and-up.
Mr. Clay Bennett seems to be a good friend of yours, and your mutual companionship could do great things to expand your organization in the future.
But what is being done in Seattle right now is morally unjust. You seem to be a noble man, and although we haven't met in person, I am sure you are just as personable as an average, humble "Joe". Your intelligence surely doesn't deem you ignorant to the city's pleas.
I understand the hurdles that the state would have to jump to maintain professional basketball in Seattle.
The unavoidable need for a change (be it in KeyArena or a brand new stadium) has saddled the team with debt in the past and spending in the future. Howard Schultz sold the team in 2006 saying that even if KeyArena were to be sold out each and every game, the organization would still be in the red.
The inevitability of failure is disheartening to a Seattle fan, but it makes one call into question the moves of the Oklahoma City businessmen that originally bought the franchise.
Who would want to buy a team, only to lose money the next season? Who would buy a team without any set plan for renovation/construction of a stadium? To me, it just doesn't make sense.
You're smart, Mr. Stern. If you weren't, you wouldn’t have the powerful stature in sports that you do now. Your past in law certainly advocates the idea that you have experience in dissecting ulterior motives.
It isn't a stretch to say that said wishes existed in the minds of the new owners. Heck, you dealt with it directly by fining partial-owner Aubrey McClendon $250,000 after proclaiming to Oklahoma City that the group did not purchase the team to keep it in Seattle.
And with the new e-mails coming out showing that primary owner Clay Bennett intended to push the franchise to the Midwest as quickly as possible (to avoid another "lame duck" year in Seattle), it all just seems too suspicious to believe that the owners had "good intentions" while buying the team.
Even the staunchest of people, like Starbucks C.E.O. Howard Schultz, are beginning to realize their mistakes. Schultz is attempting legal action against the new owners as he (and the city) believe that they were lied to at the time of transaction.
Although the lawsuit likely won't ever spread its wings and fly Seattle to the promised land, it definitely means something. It just seems so unfair.
If Clay Bennett bought the team with every intention to keep it in Seattle, why is he so unwilling to do so?
Over the course of his ownership, there have been a collage of offers, ranging from the mere purchase of the team by local investors to the construction of a new stadium on the waterfront, commandeered by a former Sonics great.
What has been offered, although impractical to be combined, collectively goes into the billions of dollars. Mr. Bennett bought the hostage franchise for $350 million.
So Mr. Stern, I ask you not for a complete stance change, but rather a reconsideration of your position.
If we didn't care about our Sonics, we wouldn't be filling 10,000 seats nightly in a run-down arena to see a team that could barely string together double-digit wins.
And why did we do it? Because we love the Sonics. We'd love our only franchise to win a championship. We love the team's future with Kevin Durant and Jeff Green on the floor. If the team does end up moving, they will surely be missed.
Coming from a sixteen-year-old kid who has spent his entire life idolizing the Supersonics, the thought that the team might move thousands of miles away, quite frankly, just sucks.
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