I'm already busy reading the links in todays paper. It is really nice to see them talking about the guys and the game. Here I am back on other stuff.
I want to address that I don't feel in any way to be "wasting time" by defending the SOS actions here on the blog. It is home turf and there is an aspect of enduring the question and answers that helps prepare for taking the message out to the much more critical public. If I don't want to answer I don't have to. For the most part I feel like people are entitled to question and that, if I am not able to respond to this crowd then I should re-think my actions or answer. Here are my late night rumblings that kind of outline the recent decision making...
I spend A LOT of time working out the various aspects of this. There is simply a lot of thought and research that goes into every decision and it usually involves a lot of phone calls, pondering, and internal debate prior to being released. In terms of this recent lawsuit I am not suprised that there is mixed review, becuase internally I went back and forth on the idea as well.
For starters I should be clear that I am not a plaintiff, nor at this time am I intending to be. Additionally we are not making this up or pushing something meritless. You'll have to see how it goes but it is a specific, and based on our research extremely legitimate complaint. Have any of you met with an attorney on this matter? I've met with 6, including the state attorney general. When we were contacted by these season ticket holders we felt that we were able to give them well thought out advice with a lot of research behind it. That is how we try to approach everything.
We have a lot of advisors on this matter. From the league, to members of other ownership groups, media members, politicians, big local companies, etc. all try to point to where the fans should be. This board is a great resource for information and insight. Right now I am not hearing from a single person "in the know" that we are doing a bad thing. Unfortunately someone needs to add to the downside for ownership by increasing the cost of leaving, if that doesn't happen then it is just too quick and easy a path for them to relocate and they won't return to the table. It does not make sense for the mayor or the governor to drive that bus if they have to get involved in negotiations with Bennett or the league some day. We can do that because a year from now nobody will know my name and we'll be done.
To address the issue of the timing I will say again that I am not a plaintiff so in the end it was not completely my decision but I was happy to give advice. The timing from my opinion was not driven by me, it was driven by Mr. Bennett and his decision to file for arbitration early. If he cared about the basketball PR I don't think he would have filed that request the week before camp. By filing a motion to stay on media day I think his intentions were further demonstrated. I hate this more than you but as they say "Don't hate the player, hate the game."
We should be 100% focused on basketball but that is not reality and it won't be until this is resolved. I don't think you can complain of a mixed message here, only a complicated one. We have to distinguish between the team and the ownership. I will always support the team even if I am currently at odds with ownership.
The concept that we have allowed this to become all about taking shots at Bennett would be true only if we were not so active behind the scenes in lobbying for a solution. I wish I could confide in all the readers how much more likely an arena is now than it was a year ago but I cannot. I will say that every single person we line up to "save the Sonics" is, in my opinion, one more asset who is not working against it. Nothing is more funny than the moments when Chris VanDyk calls me up out of the spur of the moment and says "Hey, I have this idea on how we could get an arena for them." He's actually trying to work on it largely because he's been invited and everyone tells him that he will never be part of the solution. People love to prove others wrong. Chris has his own well documented agenda that makes it unlikely he is the guy who will come up with something but that does not mean there is no value in him trying, or at least being an accessible devils advocate.
I believe that the initial rally of people trying to save the team by drawing a hard line will have multiple effects. For starters do you really think Slade Gorton and the Mayor wanted to tie their names so closely with efforts to "keep the teams here" only to let them leave 2 years later? By encouraging Mayor Nickels to get involved in this aspect we almost force him to come back and address the long term issue otherwise he is the mayor who spent a million bucks defending the lease but still lost the team.
We have and will continue to get people signed up on the effort who may not have signed up for an "arena handout" summit but do get the concept of "a deal is a deal". The council is an obvious example of that based on their latest ordinance. In the process Kevin Durant will grow, and with each passing day these people become more personally vested in a longer term successful solution. The more people get personally vested the more they will work for solutions and eventually the critical mass will be such that an arena will emerge. It is however a long term process.
The criticism was in there that I am losing credibility for an arena because we failed to deliver one last year. All I can say to that is, to date everybody has failed and we can't all be bad. We do our best, especially on our end being volunteers. I ALWAYS figured that it would come down to some really desperate times because that is how these deals usually get done. We tried to portray a lot of optimism early and hoped for the best but none of this is really a suprised. We have 3 years left and are incrementally working our way closer. I don't worry about my rep. I'm out there fighting the fight and the people who matter respect that even if sometimes the process is hard or makes me look bad.
I cannot wait for the Sonics open practice on the 6th.