Tough night to communicate to all of you. I cannot do so eloquently and feel that I have very little to add. If it were up to me I would post nothing at all but I feel obligated to you guys.
Today's settlement was not a win. I won't call it that. It is sugarcoating things too much to say in any fashion that I am happy with the results or even that I agree with the decision to take it. After all the emotion invested in this issue I am somewhat at a loss for words.
The decision was communicated to me by a fairly forlorn group of city officials, all of whom clearly wished this had worked out differently. They emphasized throughout the process that they truly felt that they were going to win the case but that as negotiations developed the hostility was growing and they truly did believe there was a real chance that the team would be 2 years and gone. I believe that there was also a real chance that if we got the two years we could have seen Frank Chopp fail to approve funding of the building AGAIN this year because we had two years left. We will of course never know the answer to those questions but they felt the risk of winding up with nothing was high. This settlement is largely based on the involvement of Ballmer. He is committed to the course and the NBA is committed to him. The feeling was that the terms of this deal maximize our chances of getting the building done and the building is the key to the NBA in Seattle. If you have the building and you have Ballmer then you have the NBA, maybe not this year but you will have it.
In the end they felt the long term odds were better for this deal than they were for playing out the two years. I think there is a chance of that and they were in the room to have a better sense of it than I. I also think that we should have waited until the verdict was made. I will give them some credit by saying that I don't think the average fan or follower has really realized how close we were to getting nothing out of this deal. The league and Bennett exerted enormous resources to make this problem go away and it has been really obvious for quite some time that the battle was steeply uphill. We've had a fighting chance all along but it would take a perfect fight to combined with a little luck to get a victory.
I find myself in a position that I have been in a lot over the last two years. I hate where we are at. I wish our position was better, but I find myself having to say "We are where we are and there is nothing I can do about it. What can I do now, given the current situation?"
The city has asked Sonics fans to be involved in efforts to get the arena funded this session. They specifically want Save Our Sonics to lead the charge.
There is a real dilemma here as I struggle to think about what my role is. Do I let my feelings of anger towards the city dominate the day and give up hope for a Sonics team in the upcoming years? Do I try to transition my goals long term and rationalize that this is "just another battle" and I can still win the war by getting an NBA team. If I did those things would I simply be buying into an excuse that Greg Nickels sold me? Would I be letting everybody pull a fast one and tell me "you can't be mad at me for selling out because I didn't sell out. I took the best deal."
I know that SOS involvement would help tremendously to pass this legislation and get an arena done. I also feel strongly that we could watchdog the city to ensure that they don't sit on this financial settlement and lose site of the NBA. I wonder if I even care enough about the NBA to do any of that? If I don't do it I don't think it will get done and I wonder if I can live with that. What would Sonics fans really want me to do and can they come to terms with this to get back on track for another shot?
I ask all these questions because I do not know the answers. Yesterday I spent a good chunk of the day writing out press releases for the Judges verdict. One was an attempt to be gracious and move towards reconciliation as we celebrated a victory, the other was damn close to a complete concession.
When you write the concession speech you start to realize that there is a chance to lose everything, that tomorrow there could be a day with no hope. It is a very chilling feeling.
Because of this I am actually somewhat relieved that at least we do have hope of NBA basketball. Its a slim hope, and the hope of a new team, but it is hope nonetheless. At least we are not sitting here with nothing.
I'm taking some consolation in this but feel like I need to process the grief a little bit. Everybody will react differently and we need to work through it. Then we'll regroup. Then we'll figure out what to do next. That's the plan.
Thanks so much to all the people who have helped through this.
We did what we could and need to continue to be proud of the effort.
I'll have more to say tomorrow. God Bless.