Dear Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels…
I’m not from Seattle. I moved to the area less than two years ago. Great weather you guys have up here by the way. Rain is awesome.
While I certainly don’t know everything about the Emerald City and what makes it tick, there’s one thing I do know: There’s no chance I’ll ever vote for Greg Nickels.
And I’d be willing to bet everything I had that I’m not alone in that sentiment. The citizens of this fine metropolis will remember what you’ve done and what the rest of the politicians—city and state—have done. Collectively, you’ve shown an incredible lack of leadership and chutzpah as it related to keeping the Seattle Supersonics in town.
I’m not even a Sonics fan. But I am an NBA fan and I appreciated the history this franchise had in this city. In 1996, I cheered for the guys in green when they battled the dynastic Chicago Bulls—I suppose I was technically cheering against the Bulls, but still.
I loved watching Gary Payton pass, shoot, and sneer. I loved watching Shawn Kemp dunk as those below took cover. And I loved watching Xavier McDaniel’s cameo in the movie Singles. Priceless.
Or so I thought. But apparently 41 years of memories and history can be bought.
I’m not a politician or a businessman or an economist. Yet despite those shortcomings, I know that you, Mr. Mayor, and the rest of the city council got worked over pretty good in the deal that sent the Sonics packing.
The agreement you struck with Clay Bennett’s ownership group was so harebrained and ridiculous that I’m tempted to contact your office to see if you’d have any interest in purchasing some oceanfront property in Yakima.
On the day U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman was scheduled to issue her ruling in the federal lawsuit you guys filed to hold the Sonics to the remaining two years of their Key Arena lease, you caved and allowed the franchise to pack up and leave.
You sold the hearts and soul of the city and its fans to a liar from Oklahoma for a mere $45 million—or what amounts to the next two years of Kobe Bryant’s salary. I won’t even get into the other $30 million that’s part of the deal because that’s money you’ll never see.
Did you secure another team for the city of Seattle? No. And isn’t that really what this was all about? Keeping NBA basketball in Seattle? Apparently not.
At your press conference you speculated, “We'll never know, but we're confident the judge would have ruled in our favor," Nickels said.
If we’re to believe that—and really, why should we believe anyone associated with this Supersonics debacle at this point—then why not wait to hear her ruling? Wouldn’t winning the ruling give you more leverage? More of a bargaining chip with which to secure in writing the return of the NBA to Western Washington?
And even if you lost the ruling, the threat of an appeal would've put you in no worse a situation than you were in.
To say with a straight face that this was a good deal for Seattle is at best extreme naiveté, and at worse a flat-out, boldfaced lie. I’m not an idiot—and I don’t think the people of Seattle are either.
Now that NBA basketball has gone, the odds of it returning are minuscule.
Seattle’s path back to NBA relevance is through the state legislature, and if there’s one thing I have learned from my limited time in the Pacific Northwest, it’s that the Washington state legislature likes to fund projects—especially sports-related ones—about as much as Amy Winehouse likes quiet nights at home.
Mr. Nickels, I hope you’re at peace with your capitulation, because the press conference you held at City Hall at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, July 2nd is and will be your legacy. You are always and forever going to be known as the mayor who not only allowed Seattle’s only major championship team to pack up and leave, but the man who set the price.
Good luck with your next election. Something tells me you’re going to need it.