Speaking yesterday on KUOW’s The Conservation, Gov. Chris Gregoire stated that she has “no reason to disbelieve that” Sonics owner Clay Bennett is negotiating in good faith.
Uh-huh. Me, I’m more of a cynic. In fact, I’m not convinced that Bennett has actually negotiated at all. Perhaps its a cultural thing, but I’ve always thought of “negotiation” as a back-and-forth process, in which the two sides haggle until they reach a mutually acceptable compromise. Laying out plans for a half-billion dollar hoops palace, and then declaring “I’m out of ideas” upon its inevitable rejection? Well, that sounds to me more like an “ultimatum.”
Whatever. The point is, an Oklahoma City kajillionaire — who has long dreamed of bringing an NBA franchise to his city — bought the Sonics, and from the moment the sale was announced, we all understood how unlikely it was to keep the team in Seattle under his ownership. To look at this as just another business deal would be naive, as bringing the team home has a value to Bennett and his partners that far exceeds simple monetary considerations.
The Storm on the other hand, well, Bennett really couldn’t give a shit about bringing a WNBA team home to Oklahoma City, and from what I understand, the feeling is mutual: Storm star Lauren Jackson has already said she wouldn’t follow the team to Oklahoma, and faced with all the uncertainty, Sue Bird only signed a one-year contract.
For Bennett, the Storm is little more than an afterthought, and likely a money-losing one at that, moved to a smaller market and missing its two biggest stars. But in Seattle, the Storm has built a devoted and profitable following.
So if Bennett really wants to show Washingtonians a little “good faith”, the least he could do is divest himself of the Storm before packing up the Sonics and heading East. Besides, the Storm is worth more to us than it is to him, both monetarily and otherwise, especially in the absence of the Sonics. Rumor has it that a group of local investors is willing to put up the estimated $10 million fair market value of the team, and if Bennett is the “stand-up guy” Gov. Gregoire says he is, he’ll entertain a reasonable offer.
All that’s required is a little good faith negotiation.