Seattle SuperSonics Relocation: The Hypocrisy of David Stern

Todd Pheifer@tpheiferAnalyst IIIApril 29, 2013

NEW YORK - JUNE 26:  NBA Commissioner David Stern shakes hands with number four draft pick for the Seattle SuperSonics, Russell Westbrook during the 2008 NBA Draft at the Wamu Theatre at Madison Square Garden June 26, 2008 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images

The Sacramento Kings will not be moving to Seattle (via ESPN), at least not anytime soon. On April 29, the Relocation Committee voted unanimously against the move. Something is amiss.

Honestly, this is a head-scratcher. The NBA, like any other league, is about making money. Period.

Why would the NBA keep a team in Sacramento? Is it really a better business decision to leave a team in a town where the ownership wants to sell, the city has not built a new arena and the fans have not filled the seats?

Hey, at least Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson is happy:

I've never been prouder of this city. I thank the ownership group, city leaders, but most of all the BEST FANS IN THE NBA!!!

— Kevin Johnson (@KJ_MayorJohnson) April 29, 2013

Before people start talking about the loyal fans, let’s look at the average attendance over the last five years:

2013: 13,749 (30th)

2012: 14,508 (27th)

2011: 13,890 (29th)

2010: 13,254 (29th)

2009: 12,571 (30th)

By the way, the arena seats over 17,000 people.

Supportive fan base? Not exactly. Once the Maloofs announced that the team was being sold and moved to Seattle, there was suddenly a flurry of activity.

A mystery counteroffer “that was said to be competitive” (via The Seattle Times) was put together. All of a sudden, the momentum shifted. If I didn’t know better, I would say that something was going on behind the scenes.

What is frustrating for Seattle fans is that something seemed awry with this whole process. Something smelled. Something was out of place.

Could it be...David Stern? Was he applying a bit of pressure in a quiet, but forceful way?

In a recent article, The Seattle Times noted:

NBA Commissioner David Stern had said his preference was to not relocate a team, and his support of Sacramento’s offer was likely a critical part of the team staying put.

Interesting. Did Mr. Stern feel that way when the Sonics were being taken away by Clay Bennett? Where was Mr. Stern when the city of Seattle was taking Mr. Bennett to court? Not on the side of the city or its fans, that is for sure.

This just feels personal. There is not necessarily any hard and public evidence to support that theory, but we are talking about people with egos. Agendas. The ability to hold grudges.

Somehow, some way, Mr. David Stern does not like Seattle. This is now the second time where the Seattle fans have been treated badly by the NBA.

David Stern is, shall we say, a confident man. He does not give the appearance of someone who is going to be bullied into doing anything. Therefore, he may be willing to sacrifice cash in order to win his particular fights.

Besides, he is leaving. Does he care whether Seattle ever gets a team again?

Of course, there is also the reality that Mr. Clay Bennett is the chairman of the Relocation Committee. Can you say, “conflict of interest?” This is a man who was caught lying to the city of Seattle (via The Seattle Times). If anything, Mr. Bennett should have probably recused himself from this particular issue.

This was not a business decision. The NBA would make more money by moving the team to Seattle, allowing Chris Hansen to build a new arena and taking advantage of the larger metropolitan area.

One thing is for sure. The NBA has set a precedent. If they are consistent, they can never let a team move ever again. The Relocation Committee should be permanently disbanded, and all owners should be told that each team is part of the civic framework in their respective cities.

No one may move.

The city of Sacramento and their fans should be congratulated. The Kings are staying...for now. Something tells me that there may be some issues ahead between the Maloofs, the city of Sacramento and the NBA.

For Seattle fans, there is some hope. As tweeted by Dave Softy Mahler of Sports Radio KJR:

Caller on KJR: "I'm crushed." Ditto friend. Time to get back to work. MOUgood for 5 years. Chris isnt going anywhere

— Dave Softy Mahler (@Softykjr) April 29, 2013

David Stern is still very much in control...allegedly.


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