No, No, No! Rejection Of Seattle Bid Fuels Theories

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Given that this still is the first round of the NBA playoffs and that one of the league’s most famous first-round series – and video euphoria – is the footage of Denver’s Dikembe Mutombo on his back, clutching the basketball in joy after the Nuggets’ 1994 upset of the Seattle SuperSonics, it’s appropriate to bring the big fellow into the conversation.

Seattle just got Mutombo-ed again. Only this time, it was the league’s power structure — from the Relocation Committee up to commissioner David Stern himself — who wagged a long finger at the politicians, the money men and the fans of the Emerald City.

“No, no, no,” the committee’s 7-0 vote to deny relocation of the Sacramento Kings to Seattle seemed to say. “Not in my house.”

Or at least, not on Stern’s watch. Our man David Aldridge did a great job of covering both the big picture and the nuances of the surprising decision to recommend to the Board of Governors that the Kings stay put, short-term and possibly long-term.

Various Seattle media outlets did their own great jobs of providing perspective, with a little venting, for that disheartened and in some cases bitter audience. For example, columnist Jerry Brewer of the Seattle Times suggests the NBA “changed the rules” for procuring and moving franchises:

[Seattle bidder Chris] Hansen tried to win the right way. He tried to do it with transparency; no buying the Kings and pretending to want to stay in Sacramento. He tried to do it with record-setting money and a polished business plan.

But the NBA is a liar’s game, full of hypocrites, improper alliances, a lack of financial creativity and a commissioner who is more powerful than the owners he represents. Stern revises the rules according to his whims. It seems Seattle was destined to lose in this ever-changing game. We’re back in a familiar place with that spirit-crushing league.

Abandoned.

Again.

Brewer wrote that Seattle only will get a shot at re-admittance to the NBA — by buying and moving some other city’s team or through expansion — after Stern’s retirement on Feb. 1, 2014. Longtime columnist Art Thiel, writing for SportspressNW.com, also saw the vote as an extension of Stern’s will:

Delighted by the rising value of his franchises — Job One for any sports commissioner — but looking at another potential ugly relocation, Commissioner David Stern gave every chance for Sacramento to match the record Hansen bid. For one reason: He didn’t want to make the same mistake twice.

Rather than screw over a second city with relocation, he has screwed over, at least temporarily, the same city twice.

At worst, he figures he can live the rest of his days with never getting a drink brought for him in Seattle.

It’s possible that moving the Kings from Sacramento to Seattle would just shift the problem and hack off a whole new bunch of people. It also is possible, as Thiel suggests, that keeping Seattle open as a viable market gives the NBA leverage over shaky franchises or headstrong municipalities not unlike the NFL has with Los Angeles in waiting for someone’s team.

Another possibility, intentionally or not, is that the NBA is teaching a lesson to the decision-makers in its many markets: Love us now, not after we’ve gone.

Seattle did not play nice with the NBA prior to 2008, fighting Clay Bennett (who is the head of the relocation committee, by the way) and not budging on financing for a new arena. Sacramento, on the other hand, has rolled up its sleeves and been busy finding ways to keep its only major league caliber team in town.

That’s the sort of commitment — before things get broken, not after it’s too late — that Stern and the other owners (who love $550 million franchise valuations and the freedom to sell or move when they want) treasure most.

In the meantime, Stern was right as this Kings/Sonics decision approached. One city or the other was going to be unhappy. Now there’s no more guessing.

27 Comments

  1. Gary Payton says:

    If the Owners deny sale, what are the legal ramifications fro Maloof family and Hansen/Balmer group since Stern has been holding KJ’S hand the whole way? No anti-trust and something is not right! Maloof family does not want a lesser offer from a group they do not want to sell to!

    • Gary Payton says:

      I am hearing that Sacramento government will be broke in 5 years because of large shortfalls that already exist!

  2. Gary Payton says:

    Maloof family is not interested in selling for less money and not negotiating anymore! They are moving forward with only binding agreement they have, which is with Hansen/Balmer group! It may be that the Kings play in Sacramento one or two more seasons and reapply for relocation? They are not in a position to deny sale or dictate who the Maloof family sells to and a lesser amount is not going to fly!. Bluff called, that is why they only recommended relocation, no finance committee, trying to get the Hansen/Balmer group to withdraw? It all comes back to binding sale agreement and legal issues that would arise for owners that only 50% need to approve. Expansion would still be cleaner!

    • Gary Payton says:

      Sacramento group say they will deposit 50% of purchase price with David Stain’s urging. On May 3rd they deposit 170 million into escrow, although that is 9 million short of 50% ? And the Maloof family does not have a purchase agreement with them or are they negotiating with them at all! Stadium deal is unraveling because it is incomplete, all the property has not been purchased government can not afford it!

  3. it says:

    I am a long time SONICS fan. I was born and raised in Sac Town. I used to travel 3-4 hours to SONICS games and i am sure i am not the only one that traveled that distance. The point i am trying to make is there is a team not even 2 hours away from Sacramento called the Warriors. Why do they need to have so many teams so close together ? I can bet you that there is not even the amount of fans that would travel the distance a SONICS fan would travel for there team. If I remember correctly Stern said in 2008 he would make sure Seattle would have a team before he retired, well he is retiring and we still don’t have a team yet. Is he a man of his word? We will just have to wait until the final decision in May. For the relocation committee are you guys going to be LEADERS and make the rite decision (Seattle), or are you going to be followers and do what ever Stern tells you to do ? I would rather be a leader and make my own decision and not let someone tell you what to do. Lets be smart here and make the rite decision. Thank you NBA

  4. Mark says:

    Hansen seems to have seized upon the fact that the relocation recommendation only addressed whether the Kings could be moved in 2013, and that the finance committee abstained from voting. The Sacramento contingent is hoping to complete a deal with the Maloofs before the vote in two weeks. Doesn’t look like that will happen. Is Hansn counting on the Sacramento arena deal falling through if he takes ownership of the Kings and Randadive and the others consequently drop their support of the arena?

    • Rohit Singh says:

      Ran advice and Maastrov have major love for sac there not backing out

      • Gary Payton says:

        Not even close to the wealth of the group from Seattle, and Maloof family is not selling for less the 348 million or taking any interest in other suitors to purchase…

  5. kuyabest says:

    Thank God Mr, David Stern put sanity into this :

    “No, no, no,” the committee’s 7-0 vote to deny relocation of the Sacramento Kings to Seattle seemed to say.”

    This is the most sane news from the NBA!

    • Gary Payton says:

      They do not carry any weight on sale though, and Maloof’s already have a buyer!

      • Gary Payton says:

        As Clay Bennett said in an email when he was lying to Seattle, ” I can play this game!”. No games from Seattle group, no running mouth to media like the Desert Queen, just honesty!

  6. devdonnelly says:

    James is totally right about Bennett! Seriously, Steve did you follow the Sonics saga at all? Bennett’s groups made outlandish requests for a new Xanadu, er arena that was wholly financed by taxpayers with no benefit to the tax payers. The requests were so outrageous that any city, even OKC or Sacramento would’ve rejected them. Remember the tax payers had just forked over tons of money for the NFL & MLB. Asking for such outrageous sums in that political climate was purposely intended to kill any chance of getting an arena done. That was the OKC group’s plan all along and Bennett lied about his intentions from day one. I’m amazed that the “man possessed” didn’t get indited for perjury. Hansen tried to be upfront about his intentions, that was a mistake apparently.

    • OKCKD35 says:

      No benefit to the tax payers? What about having an NBA franchise in seattle? How much revenue does that create? How many jobs were lost in the relocation of the franchise? No matter what happens Seattle fans will always be bitter about losing the Sonics, yet, they are trying to do the exact same thing to Sacramento right now, does this sound familiar? Owner looking to sell a beat down franchise? City wont fund a new arena? Investors informing the league they want to relocate the team? Unrealistic arena proposals? Oh but its ok since its not your team being relocated it is now somehow ok? Don’t see any seattle fans contesting the relocation of the Kings.

      • Gary Payton says:

        We were honest, Bennett lied from day one! Look up facts and be informed. Why would Seattle government want to build a 500 million dollar arena with no money from ownership? 10 million is all they offered, probably could not afford anymore! We got good investors up here now that are honest and moral, no need to lie about our intentions and the fact that there is a binding sale agreement in place, the only one that exist.

  7. Gary Payton says:

    That says it very well! No good feelings towards those three here (Schultz the most, he turned his back on Seattle) and I am very happy for Stern on his pending retirement.

  8. Dave Parker says:

    Clay Bennett never lied to Seattle. He told you from the beginning: Build a new arena or I will move the team. I know, because I have done some projects for Clay Bennett and know him to be a man of his word. So, I was very interested when he purchased the Sonics, and I went onto the websites and followed every move. I even went in and warned people, “You had better believe him, because he is a man of his word. If he says he will move it, he will do just that.” The response I received from Seattle fans was, “Oh, this is just another lying politician trying to blackmail us into building a new arena.”
    You learned too late that I was right, and that he was a man of his word.

    • OKCKD35 says:

      Thank you! tired of the conspiracy talk. And yes they did gut the team so they could rebuild, many teams do this. Getting rid of Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis was to free up the space to obtain Durant/Ogden (thank god it was Durant). Sam Presti and Clay Bennett turned a downtrodden franchise into a title contender in 3 years. If Seattle would have ponied up then Seattle would have a title contender. They weren’t willing to and Clay did exactly what he told them from the beginning

    • Mike Cameron says:

      Dave – So what you’re telling me is that when Bennett said he was a “man possessed” about keeping the team in Seattle, he was sincere? When Bennett proposed the most expensive arena in league history ($500 million) in a congested south King County suburb (Renton), and refused to divulge how much money he would contribute, he actually thought that would gain approval? And can you explain why Bennett — who was honest about keeping the team in Seattle, as you say — never attended a game in Seattle? And why would Bennett have a triumphant homecoming news conference after securing the rights to move the team to OKC and declare “We did it!” in front of a group of cheering fans? Did what exactly — if he wanted to stay in Seattle, why would he celebrate as if he was able to finally achieve something he’d been working toward all along? If you really believe all this, against overwhelming evidence to the contrary, you’re like all the other OKC fans who spout stuff like “Seattle didn’t support their team” as a way to feel better about the grand larceny that took place. Your guy lied, deceived, and likely committed fraud (which could have been proven if Schultz hadn’t dropped his lawsuit) to bring the NBA to Oklahoma while his best buddy Stern threatened Seattle politicians to get them to quit fighting and let it all happen. But you keep believing what you want.

    • James says:

      Hmmm…then explain this: http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2004339103_sonicsheds.html

      There is no conspiracy theory. Bennett sent emails where he explicitly said he was stringing things along but that his intent all along was to bring the team to OKC, and he did whatever he could to make that happen. He rejected reasonable arena proposals, he drained the team of talent, disengaged from local leaders, and ensured that the team would move to OKC. Watch SonicsGate. It’s all documented – there is no “conspiracy theory”.

  9. James says:

    Just to be clear – the City never fought Clay Bennett. He never had any intention of staying in Seattle.

    He lied about his intentions to stay, went through the motions about his intent to build a new arena (including some nice looking architectural renderings) but insisted on proposing an arena deal that was so outrageous no City would ever have accepted it (seriously, look at his 2007 Renton stadium proposal – it would have been twice as expensive as any other arena in the NBA) while saying any proposal aside from that one was not “viable” (and there were several good ones),

    He then gutted the talent so the team was no longer competitive and attendance dropped, alienated local civic leaders, claimed he exhausted all of his efforts to drum up the needed fan and civic support for a new arena, and then moved the team to OKC – which is exactly what he planned to do in the first place.

    This isn’t a conspiracy theory – it’s been documented through email correspondence Clay had with his partners. Look it up. All that said, the bigger villian is Howard Schultz (Starbucks CEO), who sold the team to Bennett to begin with. He’s the reason many Seattlites boycott Starbuck’s.

    But in the end, you are right that Stern is the biggest villian of all. He was insulted that he felt slighted when he went to the Washington State Legilslature and decided he would do whatever it took to scr*w over Seattle. He had Bennett’s back the whole time, winking and patting him on the back the whole time Bennett claimed to be “making his best efforts to keep the team in Seattle”, then doing whatever it took to ensure that Bennett was able to re-locate the team. Now he again has vindictively done his best to ensure that the team will not be moving to Seattle.

    • Gary Payton says:

      That says it very well! No good feelings towards those three here (Schultz the most, he turned his back on Seattle) and I very happy for Stern on his pending retirement.

  10. Gary Payton says:

    If group comes up with money, they still have not and 347 million is sizable amount not including the 7% Hansen paid for recently. Stadium deal down there will be picked apart in the next ten days looking at time frames, land that is owned, and can they afford 600 million for team and stadium, also the cities ability to do so! The Maloof family wants 347 million and the Seattle group may up the offer again is the word! Also recommended on relocation, no purchase news or vote and there is still talk of buying team and moving later?
    A simple word “Expansion”, we can wait a year or two….

  11. It Ain't Over ... Til Its Over says:

    The Board can vote against relocation, but they can’t force the Maloofs to sell to mayor Johnson’s rag-tag band. The Seattle group could reevaluate their offer yet again … say to $650 million. The people of Sacramento could, again, voice their displeasure at a downtown arena. Its still a two point game !

  12. looks like they are staying better luck next time Seattle