Oh, boy. Here we go...
Taken from Wednesday's article of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, "Maybe Howard Schultz finally gets it. His decision two years ago to sell the Sonics to fork-tongued Oklahomans promising a good faith effort to keep the team in Seattle was a bad idea."
It just took the Starbucks mogul awhile to realize what we all suspected. For too long, he savored the sweetness of the millions he and his co-owners pocketed by selling out to the out-of-towners.
Then came the bitter aftertaste.
What did Jay-Z say? Oh yeah..."And that's so LAAAAMMMMMEEEE!"
Which brings this unsavory Sonics soap opera to its latest episode: Schultz spewing about suing Clay Bennett and the new owners. He wants to get the Sonics back -- and his reputation.
Okay, so Oklahomans, who seem to be more business-savvy than the owner of the largest coffee chain in the United States, are now "fork-tongued," because we want to bring the Sonics to a rabid fan base where the team will be supported? Schultz knows he can't get the Sonics back, but maybe he figures his late effort will make him look better to the city of Seattle.
First off, Shawn Kemp was one of my favorite players growing up. The Sonics were a favorite of mine when I was a boy. I can name the '96 Western Conference Champs lineup right now.
Gary "The Glove" Payton, Hersey "The Hawk" Hawkins, Detlef "The German Assassin" Schrempf, Shawn "Reignman" Kemp, and Sam "Big Smooth" Perkins; plus sixth man, Nate McMillan.
See? Told you.
How can someone as an owner of his franchise like Howard Schultz, knowing his customer base, sell the Seattle SuperSonics to an owner who is FROM OKLAHOMA CITY!!?!? Isn't there a responsibility there from Schultz?
Now if I own anything, am I not able to do whatever I want to with it? If I want to push my car off a cliff, it's my choice. It's my car. If I own a basketball team and want to put it in Billings, Montana, it's my choice. Why? Because I'm the owner. I can do what I want.
If the Sonics and their "loyal" fan base wanted to keep their team, they would've voted to put some money into a new arena. Oklahoma City did with the Ford Center, so why is that not fair for Seattle to put in additional money for an arena? Granted, the people of Seattle have shelled out the money for Safeco Field (Mariners) and Qwest Field (Seahawks), and the fact that they just financed Key Areana 14 years ago may have a bit of weight. However, attendance has been in decline even before the Sonics were sold to Clay Bennett. I have family in Seattle, and my Uncle Bill tells me that people don't go out and wear Sonics paraphernalia. I don't think Seattle realizes (or realized at this point) what they have (had), until it's getting ready to leave (gone.)
Let's take a different look: Oklahoma City took the Hornets from New Orleans, who were last in attendance, BEFORE KATRINA HIT. When the Hornets were in OKC, they were seventh in attendance. Yes, Oklahoma City is the 45th biggest market, but look at Memphis and Portland in the NBA. Jacksonville and Buffalo in the NFL. Columbus in the NHL. There are small markets that have succeeded, and I don't see why OKC couldn't be any different.
Everyone's boo-hooing for the city of Seattle. My Uncle Bill's not going to miss them, and he's been there for 35 years. Who could blame him? This team has been poorly managed since the 1996 season. When they traded Shawn Kemp in a three-team trade for Vin Baker, it was horrible. When they gave Jim McIlvane $35 million, it was horrible. Signing Brent Barry was horrible. They had a decent squad in Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis and didn't do enough to keep that team sustainable. That was horrible. Drafting seven-footers like they were going out style was horrible (Robert Swift, Johan Petro, Mohammed Sene Saer...they're like the Detroit Lions of basketball.)
Ah, but let's look over the horizon. The funny thing is I think the city of Seattle realizes what they have is about to turn around. Look at their team. They've got Kevin Durant to lead them. Jeff Green is steadily developing. They're looking at potentially getting a top two pick in the '08 draft. That means they could be greedy and get Michael Beasley or get themselves a point guard in Derrick Rose. They've got good big men in Chris Wilcox and Nick Collison to bang on the boards, and guess what? They will be loaded with cap space in the next two years. Maybe add a Corey Maggette to the squad....
So they go Rose, Maggette, Durant, Green and Wilcox? I'd be trying to keep the Sonics in Seattle, AND they have five picks in the first round in the next three years. Maybe adding a Blake Griffin, an Oklahoma product, would be icing on the cake.
Oh well; better learn how to sing OOOOOOOOOOOO-KLAHOMA! Where the wind comes sweeping down the plains!!! The Sonics, or whatever their name might be, are headed to the SOONER STATE!
Gary Payton & Shawn Kemp, the best alley-oop combo of all-time.