Sunday, July 06, 2008

A Few Brief Thoughts on the Sonics Leaving

I hate to see them go, but I’m glad to see them gone.

In the early-to-mid ‘90s I was a huge Sonics fan. Kemp, Peyton, McMillan, Schrempf, Scheffler—I loved them all. When I graduated from high school in 1996 the Sonics were playing the Bulls in the NBA finals, and I have vivid memories of riding the bus on my senior class trip and listening to Dennis frickin’ Rodman goad Frank Brickowski because Rodman was a jerk and Frank was an easy target.

Damn you, Rodman.

I’d grown away from the Sonics since then, mostly by virtue of being on the wrong side of the state. Watching from afar the Sonics and the NBA in general, the piece that’s really started to get to me is a simple matter of ethics: David Stern has turned the league into an extortionist operation, gouging cities to make money for the owners that he is beholden to, and it’s sickening to watch.

It wasn’t all that many years ago that we remodeled the Key Arena and had Stern praising it as a wonderful, modern building. Then Clay Bennett comes along, and it’s suddenly a dump. Then Stern says that the Key is beyond any hope of repair and a new building is a must-have for the team to remain; after the team leaves, he issues a statement on how he hopes to bring basketball back to Seattle assuming we renovate the Key for $300 million dollars.

Here on the dairy, we call that bullshit.

What Stern has helped engineer here is a trade of the 13th largest market for the 45th largest, which can’t possibly benefit the league. He’s taken a team from the Northwest, which now has only one other team, and moved it to the South/Midwest, where it will compete for attention with the likes of Dallas, San Antonio, and Houston.

I read that OKC is swelling with civic pride that they are now a major-league city. Good for them. They passed a large tax on themselves to remodel their arena so that it would be acceptable to Bennett and his business partners. That’s great. If having an NBA team means that much to them, then I wish them well as the nee-Sonics struggle to win 30 games.

I’m even more proud of Seattle in general and the state as a whole, though, for saying no. Stern is a bully of the worst sort, a politician in the worst sense of the word, and a hypocrite without compare. We know that he doesn’t truly care about the cities, or the players, or even the product—his interest is in making sure that his owners make all the money they can, even if that means taking it from taxpayers.

Seattle is not a worse city for losing the NBA. Seattle is a cancer patient that just had the tumor removed, and I would be just as happy if it never grows back. I hope that House Speaker Frank Chopp and whoever the next Governor is continue to say no to public funding for a new arena, and at the same time I wish Steve Ballmer well as he works on getting one privately financed.

David Stern and the NBA have shown their true colors. We must be vigilant the next time he oozes into town selling his snake oil, because it truly is venom.

Screw you, Stern.

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