I am sorry I have not responded sooner and that his one post cannot be as detailed as I like. Please understand that I took a pretty big chunk out of life to make this last trip. I'm spending my weekend with my kids and not letting basketball interrupt.
It was a very impactful trip. No we didn't get the vote but as many have said we never expected to. We knew that was an uphill battle.
We got done what we wanted done. I spoke to or made eye contact with a variety of owners who acted like I had maleria. Jerry Buss (Lakers), John Tannenbaum (Raptors), Jo Malloof (Kings), George Shinn (Hornets) and several others. All were under a strict gag order and we didn't hear much. I passed on to each of them that if I could relay just one bit of information upstairs it would be this. The city will not settle. No matter what Clay is telling you the Mayor is backed into a corner now. He will not take a cash settlement.
I will tell you that Mr. Tannenbaum of the Raptors was an extremely nice man who gushed about our city and expressed clearly that the NBA should find a way to get back to that market. When I made that statement to him his eyes crossed.
So for the record here is the statement, which we alluded to yesterday, now in Percy's column:
The league's constitution stipulates the Sonics must move before the 2008-09 season or else the team must re-submit a relocation bid.
Not gonna happen.
We also wanted to make them sweat. I was told by Chris Sheridan of ESPN that these things usually break early. If it went late he said, that means there is heavy discussion. They eventually broke at around 3pm and as the NY Times stated both Stern and Bennett looked "grim". They conducted their press conference but canceled individual availability.
They say they are in this for the long haul. I am not 100% certain they can handle it. Keep in mind they'll have to go through with this vote two more times if we win in court. A global solution featuring expansion seems like a much better idea.
So the 'where do we go next" question is the interesting one and I want to think it through more before we answer. I can tell you that we will have to be very strategic in our use of energy. Sustaining basketball interest over the summer is hard to do. We will get a few strikes and want them to be effective. There is still probably a better chance of some resolution before the trial than there us one of us getting through the whole thing.
I can tell you that the Mayo re-affirmed to me his stance that he will not take a cash buyout. If he does he is a liar plain and simple. He's not being vague or coy he just says we want basketball and no money is enough.
I can take all the shots at PVR and Simms that you guys can but I will say that there is some truth to what they are saying. We cannot simply fight and demonize Clay and think that this will lead to a solution. There needs to be a two pronged approach and I wish there were negotiations going on right now. So far everybody is guilty of that. If PVR wants to hold a summit he should invite the league, mayor, and governor to sit down. There should be a simple acknowledgment made that we are there to talk about solutions which a) keep the NBA in Seattle and b) remove the lawsuit. If the NBA cannot offer "a" then why do they expect us to be so quick to offer "b".
Scorched earth policy is a good description for both sides. Its how Stern has made me feel.
I will have more later. Don't give up hope after a crazy few days. We'll try to have an SOS gathering to go over ideas this coming week between Tue and Thursday and you're all welcome.
We will obviously meet with the Mayor, the Gov, etc.