On July 18th 2006, Clay Bennett sat at a table with then Sonics owner Howard Schultz. Schultz was in the midst of telling the Sonics Nation that he was about to sell our beloved Seattle SuperSonics to Clay Bennett and his Oklahoma investment group. At the press conference, Bennett stated that he would make a "good faith" effort at keeping the Sonics in the town that it had been in for 41 years.
In April 2007, Bennett made due on his good faith effort by trying to float over a $500 million arena proposal in Renton, which was immediately turned down by the State Legislature. And in August 2007, Sonics part owner, Aubrey McClendon affirmed all Sonics fans worst nightmare by stating that when the Sonics were bought in 2006 that "we [the OKC Ownership group] didn't buy the team to keep it in Seattle; we hoped to come here [Oklahoma]". The lies of Bennett had become painfully obvious, and on April 18, 2008 the NBA voted unanimously for the Sonics to move to Oklahoma. It was like a nightmare that no one in Seattle could wake up from.
Fast forward five years. Seattle Investor, Chris Hansen, and his powerful ownership team comprised of Steve Ballmer and the Nordstrom brothers come to an agreement with the Maloof brothers to buy the Sacramento Kings. Hansen and his team made it unmistakably clear that their intentions were to move the much maligned franchise north to Seattle. Hansen and his team had taken every necessary step possible in order for the NBA to return to Emerald City. The only thing that was missing was an actual team, which Hansen and his group had gone about purchasing and possibly moving the right way. No smoke and mirrors, no misleading the people of Sacramento, no false promises that never had a snowballs chance in Hell of coming through. Hansen and his team did everything the RIGHT WAY. THE RIGHT WAY.
With the news coming down today, that the NBA has voted unanimously to keep the Kings in Sacramento, I am only left with one conclusion or message that the NBA has sent out. And that message is that: CHEATERS REALLY DO PROSPER. If you back stab a diehard community, if you have a "special" relationship with the gatekeeper (Stern), if you go about everything in a shady and disingenuous way, then you will win in the end. On the flip side, if you go about a purchase and relocation of a franchise the honorable and honest route, then you will eventually lose.
Hansen and his team did everything above board when it came to the possible purchase and relocation of the Kings to Seattle. He walked the tightropes of the Seattle City Council with grace and confidence. He legally and honestly purchased the Kings with a clear agenda of wanting to move the Kings to Seattle. He even went so far as to offer Kings employees salary reimbursements if the Kings did leave Sacramento. Everything Hansen did was with honesty, and he always "played by the rules" when it came to the purchase and relocation of the Kings. Words cannot even begin to describe how dynamically different Clay Bennett and his cronies went about their purchase and relocation of the Sonics. But yet, those CHEATERS, those BACKSTABBERS, those SHADY CROOKS won, and we didn't.
The message that the NBA has sent out today is crystal clear. If a city wants a team, they are going to have to get it by whatever means necessary, even if that means bending, breaking or obliterating the 'rules' that are set in place. Apparently, you need to be a brownnose with Emperor Stern, you need to break a city's heart, you need to pretend after the relocation is over, that it actually never happened. That's what Bennett did in 2008, and some five years later, it's his little pudgy face that gets to sit courtside while one of the best basketball players of all-time in Kevin Durant, leads his Blunder to another possible NBA Finals appearance.
I would never say that I wish Chris Hansen would have gone about this whole purchase and relocation of the Sacramento Kings the "Clay Bennett way"; but it does make you wonder. Hansen went at this with the most honest and forthright intentions, but yet as the snake-bitten Seattle sports fans that we are, we are still left here without our Sonics. Message received loud and clear David Stern. Message received loud and clear Clay Bennett. Message received loud and clear NBA. In your world, cheaters really do prosper. I just don't know as Seattleites if we really want to be playing your game. Maybe this will all change when Stern steps down in 2014, and Adam Silver steps in. Maybe that can be Seattle's "Silver-Lining" today. But outside of that, it is a tough day to be a Seattle SuperSonic.