Thursday, July 03, 2008

Newsflash! The inevitable happens! Oklahoma City successfully absconds with the Seattle NBA team!

Not that this came as any great shock to me. It was going to happen sooner or later. It just so happened to be “sooner”.

There are many stories in Seattle papers about this. Any kind of search will find you a lot of stuff to read on this sordid affair. But, here is Art Thiel’s take:

Now we know the price of possession.

Now we learn the cost of neglect.

The "man possessed," Clay Bennett, showed that he will do just about anything to gratify himself and his fellow Oklahomans by offering another silly payment for NBA ball, yet one the Seattle political leadership lacked the guts to refuse.

Obliterated for cash is 41 years of sports and civic history. So much for the city's passionate courtroom argument that the pro basketball team was of irreplaceable value.

New York, if you fancy the Space Needle, bring your checkbook and a really big hacksaw. We'll deal. As with the Sonics, it's privately owned and not used by a majority of voters, and its structure is a World Fair relic that maybe could use an upgrade.

To paraphrase a famous punch line by Winston Churchill, we know what we are. We're just quibbling over price.

Like I said before, I doubt I will miss the Sonics that much. I never watched them on television, and I can’t remember the last time I went to a game. About the closest I got to them over the last 10 years was when I officiated a high school basketball game at Key Arena. We weren’t allowed on the floor until the Boston Celtics finished their warm-ups for that evening’s game. I must admit, that was kind of cool. And I may, sometimes, even be glad when their games don’t contribute to horrible autumn and winter commutes through the city.

But I am really burned over the fact that, once again, rich white guys are willing to do whatever they feel is necessary, however unscrupulous (including Clay Bennett perjuring himself while under oath in a Seattle courtroom, but no one can really ever definitely “prove” it and won’t bother anyway) to achieve their goals, and they get away with it. And politicians put on this happy face, like this is the best possible outcome. Mayor Nichols really should be ashamed of his performance on television yesterday. When I first heard him talking, it sounded like this was actually a great deal for the city of Seattle. I was pretty disgusted when I found out that the NBA promised nothing and the only thing that Seattle got out of the deal was money to pay off unfinished loans that the city occurred the LAST time Key Arena was refurbished.

I try not to be a vindictive person, but I acknowledge that this tendency in me does exist. Personally, I hope NBA basketball fails miserably in Oklahoma City, now the NBA’s smallest market. But, it probably won’t. Every single person who acted in their own selfish interest will come out ahead in this deal. Left out in the cold are the Seattle fans, the vendors, the local restaurants, all the people who, in one way or another, really had a tangible stake in the Seattle Supersonics.

I must admit that was a nice gesture on everyone’s part to leave us the Sonics name and records. I suppose that is some condolence, albeit very small. I won’t have to see the score of the OKC Sonics crawling across the bottom of my television screen.

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