Have I Been Too Blindly Optimistic?

Patrick McDermott

With the recent Bill Simmons mailbag a question surfaced that might have made me reconsider my whole position on us getting a team.

I read Bill Simmons religiously.  I have been a fan of his dating back before his ESPN days and have seen him develop into one of the most knowledgeable and connected NBA guys we have the pleasure of reading.  I also enjoy listening to his podcast and watching him on television on a regular basis.

This past Friday he busted out one of his vintage mailbags, the first one of the summer.  Tom, a reader from Seattle brought up the incident involving Chris Hansen and basically stated that Hansen would call off the dogs if Stern put in writing that Seattle would get an expansion team.  Long story short and we get this:

NBA Seattle = NFL Los Angeles

I do not like this comparison on a few fronts.

  1. To my knowledge there has never been an ownership group like Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer in Los Angeles threatening to steal an NFL team away.  It's usually local ownership using Los Angeles as leverage to get a new stadium built.
  2. Seattle is a few months away from having a fully functional, ready to go arena plan.  The land is bought, the design is almost done.  All that is left at this point is to have the EIS completely vetted out.  Los Angeles can't even get people together or a final site agreed upon for a stadium.
  3. People in Seattle love the Supersonics brand.  We still yearn for it, we want it back.  Is there a vocal group in LA calling for the return of the Rams or the Raiders?  I lived there, never heard an outcry for it.  People in LA love the Lakers, that's sports priority number one.  Probably followed by the Dodgers, USC football, UCLA basketball and then a mixture of Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers followers.
They don't care if Seattle has a basketball team. I can't see Hansen getting an expansion team for less than $1.05 billion ($35 million per franchise), and at that point, why even do it?

And Simmons is right.  He's totally right.  During the now little over seven years of this saga the NBA has not given a single fleck of cerebration toward us or our feelings.  They were doing Clay Bennett a favor because he housed the Hornets after one of the worst natural disasters in US history.  They did Kevin Johnson an obligement because they did just enough to prevent Stern's first relocation from relocating again at the end of his term.

New Orleans wins.  Sacramento wins.  Oklahoma City wins.

Here we sit waiting for our NBA team to hopefully one day to return and we look out the window to see Hansen and Ballmer staring down the $1.05 billion extortion gun.

Yes, Hansen and Ballmer can afford that.  It's not our money so of course we are going to say it is indeed in fact worth it.  Would a billion dollars even do it?  There's no guarantee that the NBA would take a billion dollars for an expansion fee.  Yet, I see this as our one true shot at getting a team.

No teams are for sale and there aren't going to be in the near future.  If one does come up for sale the price is going to be pushing three quarters of a billion dollars at the very minimum.  The Kings were our one shot to get a team for a cost that wouldn't break the bank. For a billion dollars you could purchase 26 sovereign countries (based on GDP net value), 14 of which I would move to today and retire (if I had a billion dollars).

So if you can't get an expansion team, and you can't get the Bucks, who's left? The answer: nobody. Hence the turd-in-the-punch-bowl strategy with the Sacramento vote. Maybe it's a legal Hail Mary, but it's the only move Hansen has left. And it's not going to work. The NBA seems determined to screw over Sonics fans for as long as humanly possible.

So what's the plan, Chris?  I mean seriously, everything you have done up to this point has been extremely well thought out and poised.  This... Not so much.  I don't know what Chris' thoughts were on this and I'm not privy to them.  To me it did seem like a Hail Mary, only he was throwing the ball to defenders as his receivers were walking off the field.

To me this was just a totally frustrated, "ah, screw it!" moment.  It was definitely wrong, move wrong time.  No sense of poise, nothing.

This was very unlike Chris.

Still looking at everything, I knew it'd be expensive, I didn't think it'd push a billion to get a team back here.  I still think we're going to get a team here.  I still trust in Chris and Steve to get a deal done that is going to bring us the Seattle Supersonics.

We're impatient.  It's going to happen, I know it is.  Just not on the timeline that we want or potentially on the budget that our potential owners wanted.

Stranger things have happened, right? Like Maryland being a 21 point favorite in a college football game this weekend.  Can't remember the last time that's happened.
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