A part of my basketball soul is left empty tonight. The minute I heard the City of Seattle had settled their lawsuit with the current Supersonics' ownership group, the realization hit home hard. The team of my youth was gone. The fact that I happened to be in Seattle to hear about every angle of the case this week, made it that much tougher.
The Oklahoma City-base ownership group may end up paying $75 million to take the team to their home town, but despite the smiling faces of the local politicians in Seattle, this deal stinks. Cash won't electrify the Key Arena this winter. For 41 years, that was the Supes job.
There's plenty of blame to pass around for this fiasco, but don't expect me to point toward Clay Bennett. Anyone who didn't think he bought the team to move it ASAP is a SAP. Nope, you have to dig a little deeper to find those responsible.
Hearing Mayor Nickles nearly pat himself on the back for this deal and talk about the plans for an Arena renovation that will help, possibly, maybe, if Seattle is lucky, land a team in the near future left my mouth agape. Would've been nice to hear that talk four or five years ago when it mattered.
Former owner, Howard Schultz, will surely drop his lawsuit. Might as well, he appears good at tucking tail when things get tough. The guy didn't have the intestinal fortitude to fight for what he wanted with the Arena when he was the owner. When challenged by the politicians, Schultz went petulant and sold the team to an outside group actually looking to relocate an NBA team. Of course, a strong group of local owners wasn't in the mix. They too, stepped up to the plate a few years too late.
Between Schultz and the state and local leaders, they had plenty of opportunities to lead, get creative, show some guts and improve not only the Sonics' arena situation, but the whole Seattle Center complex. Easy? No. But it's impossible if you just pass the buck around like a hot potato. Now they're left trying to spin this deal in the best possible light, but with no team what's the point.
Yes, a team may move to Seattle and pick up the Supersonics name and records where they left off today. But they won't be in Seattle next year and probably not the year after that, and there's no guarantee a team will ever show up.
The worst thing is, I get the sense that many local casual fans are tired of this whole saga and for now would rather tune out the NBA altogether. A new team in a couple of years may not bring them back, either. Sad.