So we can all take potshots at Clay Bennett. We can take shots at David Stern, we can question all that they have done here in Seattle.
Or we can step back.
People ask me frequently why I am so optimistic. Why I am in such heavy "denial" over the statements made, the path we're on, etc. Many of these questions point out clealry
I have had one simple belief since the day this has all started. One concept, which I believe as fact that effects my perception of everything that goes on:
The single greatest service Clayton Bennett could ever perform for the NBA is the delivery of not 1 new building, but 2. While we all point to Stern as the primary villain and Clay Bennett as his henchman we rarely question what type of mission Clay is working towards. If Bennett is in fact soldiering for the league, given that they are in this for the money, why is it such a stretch to believe that the end game is not a bitterly contested move, leaving a loyal fan-base abandoned and Clay Bennett loved in one market, but hated in another? Why is it unreasonable to believe that they have, from the begining, wanted more than that?
I prefer to believe that Bennett truly is the somewhat honorable man he is reputed to be and that his mission from the start was to be the leagues hired gun, resolving the virtually unsolvable Seattle mess, blocking Hornets owner George Shinn from making easy millions by moving to Oklahoma City, and one way or another getting himself a team in his home town as payback.
This does not mean his threats are empty. If the arena here does not materialize I believe he will move the team.
If, as now looks likely, an arena solution and big money owners step up to the plate in Seattle Bennett and Stern will have all the pieces in place to come up with a unilateral victory. Everybody involved, from David Stern, to Clay Bennett, even to the Mayor and Governor will be able to pass off the events of the last 2 years as "tough negotiating" and instead of being labeled villians will deserve some credit for achieving what, from the begining was the goal of this whole fiasco.
Unfotunately we are far down this path and the actual mechanism for putting things right is difficult to predict at this time. Is Bennett willing to back down on this team in exchange for the promise of another? Will George Shinn sell the Hornets and settle this mess once and for good? Does the league understand that the problems of expansion are probably less substantial than the problems created by this move?
All of these questions have to be answered, but in the end my faith in a successful resolution to this whole mess lies in the fact that I truly believe Clay Bennett has a chance to emerge a hero. The league has a chance to get the end game it always hoped for, and the NBA has a chance to exist in both Seattle and Oklahoma City.
Thanks to Steve Ballmer and the gang for stepping up. The building was always the problem and their generosity has provided a path to get there. Now we all need to keep up the support as we get closer to a resolution.
In the end, if we get a new building here, Clay Bennett will be a hero. He will have endured in a tremendously adversarial negotiating move and brought a franchise to his home town while saving ours from other potential hostile takeovers. He'll have done so in service to the league and this secondary story will never be written.
It will be unpopular to say, but I'll say it if and when he sells.