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Mr. Anderson Speaks . . .

It is hard to explain what is harder on the ego, the fact that this mornings Seattle Times implies that Save Our Sonics somehow is at the beck and call of the organization, or the fact that they got my name so blatantly wrong...

Let’s just admit it, this is not the first time that print media has gotten the facts wrong when discussing the Sonics and Arena issues. Anderson, Robinson, who cares which one is correct? Wally Walker will tell you that the media does not.

Joking aside today’s article written by Stuart Eskanizi was, in my mind a fair and unbiased summary of the situation. He actively conveyed our mild frustration with the pace of this process along with the fact that we are making a strong effort to work with the team and be respectful of their day to day basketball operations.

For many fans this will open up our organization to questions regarding our relationship with the Supersonics, and the impartiality we can claim as a result.

Save Our Sonics and Storm made a decision early on that, with the Sonics having proclaimed their desire to remain in the area it was strongly in our best interest to hold them to that word. We approached them almost immediately and conveyed that was in everybody’s best interest to approach this daunting task in a cooperative manner working in coordinated actions. This decision we felt would allow us to both take advantage of the tremendous resources available to and NBA team and also to closely evaluate their actions and intentions. Should we determine at a later point that they were being disingenuous we would remain independent enough that we could end the partnership and begin working in direct opposition to the new ownership group.

Over the last three months that initial contact has grown into one which we consider extremely positive and productive. The team has provided advice and introductions, opening doors which would have been nearly impossible for us to enter on our own. They have in addition helped us to be both legal and professional in our operations by taking such actions as having our logo and signs reviewed by the league to ensure they have no copyright violations, and formally allowing us to be on the Key Arena grounds without fear of removal.

What many people will overlook when attempting to define our relationship with the Sonics is that cooperative relationships, by their very nature, are two way streets. As we ask the Sonics for help and support we strive to be considerate to them in as many ways as we can.

First and foremost we try to respect that the staff has had a lot of other things on their plate. Being involved in their daily dealings to some degree has been an eye opening experience. The effort involved in kick-starting an NBA season is phenomenal. Rather than be upset when it takes a team staffer two days to call me back I am very thankful that very senior members of the franchise always take the time to get back to me or spend some time going over issues when I drop by.

Secondly we have worked very hard to be understanding of their desire to recognize the seriousness of the situation, but not turn fan attention away from their core business of entertainment and basketball. This has been a difficult balancing act which has not been without conflict. The team has been consistent in their desire to hold off on serious SOS demonstrations until a time much nearer to an actual decision being made. They contend that energy will be better spent after an arena proposal is put forward by new ownership and frankly would probably prefer that we had held off nearly all operations until that time. They believe that they are counseling us to preserve precious energy and also allowing fans to enjoy their product relatively free from the specter of losing the franchise.

Save Our Sonics has pushed quite hard to advance this schedule, trying with some difficulty to maintain public presence during the slow summer months and envisioning a large build up to the regular season that never materialized. We have pushed the team very aggressively, demanding Arena and player access, vendor and sponsor introductions, and their support of various events earlier than they would like to participate in. Additionally we are now asking for significant attention from the new ownership group with which we were legally bared contact until October 31 when their transaction was completed. In making these demands we have learned a great deal about our partners including how to avoid and resolve conflicts which we have with them in a productive way. This will be essential for the long and demanding road ahead.

Save Our Sonics has always viewed this period prior to an arena proposal or vote to be one in which we would have to fight tooth and nail for minimal results, but in the meantime build solid relationships and refine both our message and our techniques. In this sense we have been extremely successful. Our attendance outside the arena on opening night, while scaled back in scope was not a cancellation in any way, rather a reasonable but appropriate effort given the factors involved.

In the spirit of cooperation neither the team nor SOS dictates or makes demands of each other. In a balanced and equal relationship neither party has the authority to tell the other what to do, but instead we listen with respect and acknowledgment. We were happy to respect the Sonics decision to remain focused on the team’s 40 year legacy during opening night. It was an easy decision knowing that, when the time is right we can count on them treating us with the same respect, courtesy, and support.