So, the Sonics will pay the city $45 million to break the final two years of their Key Arena lease (up from the $26.5 million offer the city rejected in February), and move to Oklahoma City for the 2008-2009 season, leaving their name and team history behind like a ghostly echo. Ah well.
Sure, the move was inevitable from the day Clay Bennett bought the team, and I suppose the mayor and his minions should be congratulated for squeezing an extra $18.5 million out of the lying bastard. But rather than settle (and it does feel like settling in more than one sense of the word), I would have preferred watching the team’s owners bled dry over the final two years of the lease, the arena as empty as Bennett’s promise of good faith negotiations.
Nothing wrong with a little spite now and then.
The Seattle Times editorial board chimes in:
Seattle sports fans can only feel despair as the high-tech shining city of the future loses its 40-year basketball franchise and a ton of civic pride to a group of dishonest brokers from Oklahoma City.
The team is leaving town. That is all anyone will remember.
Huh. Actually, that’s not all anyone will remember. Some of us will remember that the Times ed board itself was unintentionally complicit in Bennett’s deception, vouching for his integrity at the same time he was brokering so dishonestly.
There have been whispers and shouts that SuperSonics owner Clay Bennett is only buying time until he can move the teams to his home state of Oklahoma. This is an unfair claim. Bennett has done nothing to suggest that moving the teams is a foregone conclusion.
If the Times had devoted only half the cynicism toward Bennett that they showed toward Darcy Burner, perhaps they might have helped foster a consensus in which elected officials and civic leaders could have pursued a more pragmatic approach toward defending our team from poachers. Or perhaps not. Either way, the Team Blethen blew it.
A more terse goodbye to the Sonics.