Posted May 16, 2013

Seattle media enraged by NBA commissioner David Stern’s OKC comment

Ben Golliver, Chris Hansen, David Stern, Sacramento Kings, Seattle Supersonics
(Glenn James/Getty Images)

David Stern announces that the Kings will not be relocating to Seattle. (Glenn James/Getty Images)

The fate of the Kings, who will remain in Sacramento after NBA commissioner David Stern announced Wednesday that a relocation bid to Seattle was voted down by the league’s Board of Governors, was always going to be a zero-sum game. Two cities, one team, and no immediate possibility of expansion combined to create an endgame that guaranteed a winning city and a losing city, no matter what.

“I don’t see any scenario in which both cities are happy here,” Stern admitted at All-Star Weekend back in February, immediately upping the anxiety on both sides with the declaration.

There’s a difference between being unhappy, being heartbroken and being outraged.

Stern’s comments at the Board of Governors meeting in Dallas left folks in Seattle feeling all three of those emotions, and it’s difficult to blame them. The outrage — the feeling of being personally and viciously insulted — began as soon as Stern opened his mouth, before he even confirmed reports that the Kings would not be headed to Seattle thanks to a 22-8 vote by the league’s owners.

“This is going to be short for me,” Stern began. “I have a game to get to in Oklahoma City.”

For much of the country, the reference to Wednesday’s Game 5 between the Thunder and Grizzlies in Chesapeake Energy Arena might sound like an innocuous throw-away, the type of thing a restless traveler can be expected to say when he’s rushing to catch a flight. For those who camped out in the hotel lobby for nearly four hours as the owners deliberated, it was likely a little aggravating to hear how precious Stern felt that his time was in relation to that of his patient audience. For fans and observers who have waited months to find out how this colossal soap opera would end, it probably sounded strangely dismissive, at best.

For Seattle folks, the reference to Oklahoma City was a mountain of the purest salt injected straight into the deepest wound. What’s the only thing worse than getting one’s hopes for the Kings dashed? Being reminded that the original SuperSonics were now doing business as the Thunder in Oklahoma City, where they were in the midst of their fourth straight postseason run since a controversial exit from the Pacific Northwest in 2008.

Few people can match Stern’s public speaking experience, and he’s as articulate, careful and witty as they come. But he’s also a lawyer who keeps score and rarely admits the error of his ways. Was this an out-of-character slip of the mind and tongue after another long day in the series of long days needed to determine the fate of the Kings? Or, was this something worse, one last, cutting shot to a fan base and city that was being left empty-handed again?

Here’s how Jerry Brewer of the Seattle Times saw things.

At the end of the fight, the old, vindictive NBA commissioner couldn’t announce the winner without first needling the city he was about to make a loser again.

At the end of a polarizing relocation issue that he once described as “wrenching,” the man who always measures his words couldn’t resist one smug remark directed at Seattle.

At the end of another heartbreaking NBA result, David Stern taunted us.

It was a sucker punch followed by a gut punch. First, Stern reminded Seattle that its team is now in Oklahoma City. Then, he announced the NBA was rejecting the city’s bid to get a team back.

But in Seattle, an NBA city scorned, the league’s newfound appreciation of loyalty doesn’t resonate. We hate the NBA business model. And we want back in for selfish reasons and on our terms. This city is too wonderful and too proud to be dismissed like Stern has done.

Now, Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune.

Two possibilities: The man is congenitally bereft of self-awareness, or he has a sadistic streak so deeply ingrained he no longer realizes how insulting he is.

No, commissioner de Sade, we wouldn’t want you to have to take too much time to explain why the Kings can’t be relocated to Seattle because you had to get to Oklahoma to watch the team that you helped be stolen from Seattle.

Josh Kerns of MyNorthwest.com notes reaction from KIRO radio host Ron Upshaw and SonicsRising.com’s Brian Robinson.

“It’s one thing for the vote to not go your way. It’s another thing for the commissioner of the league to get up and just pour salt in the wound, rub it in with this stupid smirk on your face,” Ron said.

“He just comes across as a pompous, condescending a-hole,” Ron said.


“That was a snarky comment, it was intentional, he doesn’t do those things unintentionally,” said Brian Robinson with Sonics Rising.

“It’s very clear David Stern remains very personally insulted by the situation in Seattle and it’s disappointing as a customer of his that he can’t be a bigger man,” Robinson said of Stern’s animosity towards the city after lawmakers rebuffed his efforts to secure a new Seattle NBA arena in 2007.

That rage is very, very real, whether Stern intended to provoke it or not. Considering the circumstances, the reaction is worthy of his attention now. Expecting Stern to apologize is surely too ambitious, but a clarification of his intention would be a worthwhile olive branch, even if it probably wouldn’t be received with open arms, ears and hearts in Seattle.

Meanwhile, the official response to the nixing of the relocation bid provided by Valiant Capital’s Chris Hansen, one of the Seattle group’s lead investors, was noble and graceful.

While we are obviously extremely disappointed with today’s relocation vote and truly believe we put forth both a significantly better offer and Arena plan, we do thank the league and the owners for their time and consideration and look forward to hearing back on our agreement to join the Maloofs as Limited Partners in the Kings.

But most of all I would like to thank everyone in Seattle who has been a part of our effort and supported our cause. Words simply can’t express how much your support has meant to me personally and to our City. I truly believe we did everything possible to put our best foot forward in this process and you all should be proud and hold your heads high today.

Our day will come … and when it does it will just be that much sweeter for the struggle.

I love you Seattle!

That’s pitch-perfect language and an impressive approach from a man who surely felt the rejection news as deeply as the most frustrated fans and media members. That’s magnetic leadership that everyone can respect and appreciate, a worthy opponent for the tireless work and savvy campaigning conducted by Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson.

In this particular zero-sum game, most unbiased observers can agree that Johnson winds up as a classy winner with Hansen ending up as a truly dignified loser. In Seattle, though, Stern is the referee who totally blew a crucial late-game call and then compounded matters by reveling in the boos and turning a deaf ear to the complaints. Nobody likes that guy, and it’s easy for non-Seattlites to feel the city’s pain on this one.

55 comments
DanMedsker
DanMedsker

this man's legacy is  arrogants since he couldn't be an owner he had to !@#$%#$ with rich guys that didn't kiss his as#$%&, with the avg fan paying the price/  Look what that season Clay Bennett lost on purpose here  rewarded OKC with...Durrant 30+ pts per game MVP season. Stern taught us lying & losing on purpose pays by his actions. But what should we expect from a man who was the mastermind of Refereegate, and sent the Referees who helped him  to jail..

Holden
Holden

While I feel for Seattle fans, who didn't have much say in the Supersonics leaving town--well, other than not going to games, the attitude coming from the quotes in this article is exactly why Stern has no sympathy for Seattle.  Remember, that BOTH the Seahawks and Mariners got fresh new digs.  Whatever the REAL reason was for the Sonics inability to work a deal--and the team was a dysfunctional mess--they couldn't make it and took off to guaranteed greener pastures.

Isn't it ironic, that a city which bungled away it's very own NBA franchise feels shunned when it couldn't lure away another city's team?  People laugh at the lengths Denver fans go to shape the directions of the local teams (anyone remember the "Play Tebow" billboards?


I doubt the Blazers would still be in Portland, were it not for Paul Allen.  He paid the brunt of the cost for the Rose Garden...and Portland is a one-horse town, in terms of major sports franchises.  The Northwest is hostile territory with rabid fans...but miserable politics.  The 'powers that be' in charge of negotiating acted in a way best described by Jerry Brewer:

"But in Seattle, an NBA city scorned, the league’s newfound appreciation of loyalty doesn’t resonate. We hate the NBA business model. And we want back in for selfish reasons and on our terms. This city is too wonderful and too proud to be dismissed like Stern has done."

So, as best as I can tell, Seattle and Stern are birds of a feather.  Forget about the Maloof brothers...they're the "Aloof" brothers...

cdubsmail
cdubsmail

I will sum the difference in these two situations best - Mayor Kevin Johnson

ChrisMiller
ChrisMiller

Screw David Stern and the NBA. Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer should just save their time, money, and energy. The league doesn't deserve to have a team in Seattle.

cjhenry411
cjhenry411

I would like to congratulate the people of Sacramento and Mayor Johnson. They have clearly earned the opportunity to get robbed in the playoffs so that the commish's gambling buddies can cash in.  But wait!  You wont smell the playoffs for years.  Go Jimmer!!!!

cjhenry411
cjhenry411

Schadenfreudei/ˈʃɑːdənfrɔɪdə/ (German:[ˈʃaːdənˌfʁɔʏdə]) is pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others, or more specifically, pleasure in the misfortunes of the OKC Thunder. Some in the ancient world believed it to be far more satisfying than having a local basketball franchise (See "One injury away from the cellar" 2013 author unknown)

cjhenry411
cjhenry411

Who cares if we ever get a team from this league. You can watch OKC get their tails handed to them year after year on TV in the playoffs. This is so awesome.  As a Seattle resident, watching the Thunder get ousted yet again is a truly uplifting experience.  What did  Clay (Jerry Jones Jr.)  Bennett think was going to happen when he let Harden get away?  Let's go into the playoffs with zero depth, it will be great!!!  Please enjoy wasting Durant's career. In fact, I would rather watch the pathos and frustration over the next few years, up until the point where he finally "takes his talents" to South Beach or something, then have a team in Seattle. OKC never getting over the top, that is nice to think about. Also, your coach is a chump. Durant has made this clown owner and coach think they are geniuses. And the best part is their window of opportunity is going to close up on them pretty soon, and they will have finished too high for a few too many years to get top draft picks.  Oh, and how long before Westbrook wants out of tornado alley?

MickTimbrell
MickTimbrell

I bet David Stern had a mistress in Seattle or Vancouver that his wife found out about, its the only explanation for his bizarre fear of the Pacific Northwest. 

GreekPrideYo
GreekPrideYo

Does a state really need 4 teams? BTW! We are trying to buy the shitty team in Cal

PeterLAX
PeterLAX

The Terror of Tinytown strikes again.

dmac1313
dmac1313

Years ago he tried to ruin the Pacers with his decisions after the debacle in Detroit (the 1 year suspension of Ron Artest was excessive, no penalty for Detroit for lack of security etc.). Why doesn't he take all his large market teams and start a new league. Short sighted "visionaries" like him have no business attempting to run a league. The NBA will be much more successful long after he is gone!

Ciscos
Ciscos

No one should be surprised about Stern.  The little turtle is actually dog waste with feet. Not surprising when you realize every time he opens his mouth he always says something that stinks.

Merv
Merv

The last few years Stern has mad  a number of bad decisions.  He killed the market in Charlotte, moved the Hornets to NO moved Van to Memphis, moved the Sonics to OKC and  organized the Kings staying in Sacramento.  Every one of the cities that he moved teams too are revenue takers in the NBA.  All are small markets with small TV money.  All are bad business decisions.

KevinTravers
KevinTravers

Why would he purposely try to take at a jab at Seattle? lol

From a business perspective, I'd assume he would want the team in Seattle over Sacramento, as it's a much bigger market. I'm kind of surprised the owners turned it down to be honest.

supsonics
supsonics

@KeithKemp Really? Don't you have a couple of meals you need to get to or would you like to wax more ignorance?

Pepe77
Pepe77

Plain and simple - has done a great job with the league but not without crapping on people and having fun doing so. Whether he has agendas and vendettas can be debated but thankfully he will soon be gone and hopefully his protege Silver is more reasonable and able to differentiate between emotion and intellect when making major decisions on behalf of others. Full disclosure, I've disliked dictator Stern since early 2000's and the debacle of the 06 finals was the last straw when my Mavs were robbed, in my opinion, because of Cuban rebelling and showing up the commish. I was rooting for Seattle seeing as I now live in the NW - what a shame.

sonicfan24
sonicfan24

@KeithKemp  Good one Dough Boy. You know nothing about this situation obviously so I can not respect your opinion. So just shut it up with a couple donuts because your mouth speaks BS. 

TheRealDTM
TheRealDTM

KeithKemp you are a moron, Clay Bennett asked Seattle for a 500million dollar FULLY public financed arena, in Renton, WA. Not even in Seattle, we had no chance in 2008 and no chance in 2013. Stern hates seattle. 

KeithKemp
KeithKemp

GET OVER IT SEATTLE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!    The sonic went out of SEATTLE  when you would not build a new stadium .    The pit you dug was built for profit and not for fun and that is why the owners took their team away .    

dinohealth
dinohealth

Stern is retiring.  His legacy will include unprecedented growth of the NBA, worldwide exposure,feudal collective-bargaining philosophy, and his inimitable, painful, personal, in-your-face, grandiose, self-promoting, projections of the power of his office.  Come back next year, Seattle... 

nfinitwordsfoto
nfinitwordsfoto

Stern's an idiot for wording it that way given his position but if Seattle was so serious about basketball, they wouldn't have lost their team in the first place.

grips
grips

@Holden you have no idea what you're talking about. Please read the facts about how the Sonics were stolen from the city before making such ridiculous comments.

grips
grips

@cdubsmail not exactly. But your Mayor did put in a nice effort to keep your team. Well done.

grips
grips

@ChrisMiller Agreed. Got my F David Stern T-shirt from an online retailer. Looks good. Search for it!

Paul75
Paul75

@cjhenry411 This is why Seattle fans keep losing friends around the country. This kind of attitude is probably why Stern doesn't like Seattle. You just don't have the right attitude.

hawker101
hawker101

@MickTimbrell He had two, one in Vancouver and one in Seattle. When they wouldn't put out for him he took back what he wanted, in this case the Grizzlies and Sonics.

Aaron25
Aaron25

What does 4 teams in California have to do with anything? Do you know how big California is? Do you know how far Los Angeles is from sacramento? Complaining about 4 teams in California is ignorant. Did you know Portland is closer to Seattle than Los Angeles is to sacramento? California also has 3 hockey teams, 3 nfl teams and 5 baseball teams. It's the most populated state in the country. There is room for all.

Paul75
Paul75

@Merv LOL yeah. All those places have successful teams and Seattle does not. Very bad business decision indeed.

djs425
djs425

@KevinTravers He doesnt make anymore money wherever teams end up. It goes back to the 70's with Seattle and Stern. The Spencer Haywood court decision that he lost as a NBA lawyer., He's always held a grudge against Seattle since.

Drewmantics
Drewmantics

@KeithKemp I really hope that isn't a real picture of you.  If so, I clearly don't need to needle you.  But per The REALDTM's data; "KeithKemp you are a moron, Clay Bennett asked Seattle for a 500million dollar FULLY public financed arena, in Renton, WA. Not even in Seattle, we had no chance in 2008 and no chance in 2013. Stern hates seattle" - his first point is spot on.  You are a moron.  Second, the arena deal Bennett demanded was an absolute farce.  He was to pay NOTHING as an owner.

So if you cannot understand that simple context of deviousness and just what the OKC carpetbagger/Stern plot was about at that point then you never will.  And I suppose you didn't think it was a big deal when Aubrey McClendon was caught blathering his big mouth saying that they "didn't buy the team to keep it in Seattle" while they were supposedly negotiating in "good faith" to keep the team in Seattle?  

Have another Subway cookie twit.

djs425
djs425

@KeithKempStupid people like you should be banned from using the internet. When they have no facts to what actually happened, they only know what happens in their bubble in the world. Seattle DID build a new arena! Not gonna explain this to yet another brain dead person who has no idea what happened in Seattle

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qV4QLK0HnOc

Bobnipotent
Bobnipotent

@KeithKemp I love it when people speak authoritatively on topics they know nothing about.  Thanks for the chuckle.

Ciscos
Ciscos

@DavidFroh I'll raise you a "mega" and double down on the A Hole part.

sulliva
sulliva

@nfinitwordsfotoThe team was sold under the pretense that the new owners would keep the team in Seattle.  It was dismantled "Major-League" style while the new owner demanded a $500M arena in an out of the way suburb.   I don't understand how after countless times that its been stated, half the commenting population doesn't get that. 

Holden
Holden

@grips This article talks about the "enraged media."  Do you think Stern doesn't read their comments?  I was living in Portland when the Sonics left.  They couldn't extort a new stadium from Seattle, the team stunk and there were thousands and thousands of fans, disguised as empty seats.  The attitude, amongst a LOT of different factions, was, "let 'em go."  

Finding the "facts" is more difficult than archiving the Seattle Times, which was none-too helpful, at the time.  Seattle is just far "too wonderful and too proud" to acquiesce to the NBA!  Well, it's a proud and wonderful city with no NBA team...AND, contrary to revisionist history, it played a major role in the Sonics' move.

grips
grips

@Paul75 @cjhenry411 that's ridiculous. Would you be rooting for OKC if you were in our shoes? I think not hypocrite

Drewmantics
Drewmantics

@Aaron25 Well he's going by "GreekPrideYo" so I think that sums up age, interests, and societal placement.

Drewmantics
Drewmantics

@Paul75 @Merv The long term point Paul75, for ANY business, is a long-term strategy to keep making good money.  Just how long does a team expect to stay successful?  Every team nosedives and the small market teams are the ones that suffer the most because there aren't enough deep or mid-deep pockets around to continually buy seats when the team is doing crappy.  Small market owner can only weather those storms for so long.  That is the point here dummy.

The Sonics were a part of Seattle for 40+ frickin' years and we had our thin years but folks still loved them.  And don't be an idiot and bring up the attendance after Bennett bought the team either.  He had Presti execute a firesale ala the Marlins and traded everyone for 1st round picks and dumped salary so they could stack up in OKC.

KevinTravers
KevinTravers

@djs425 @KevinTravers I meant that being a bigger market, Seattle is likely to spend more, so in the current system this means more luxury tax and money for everyone else. A rich and competitive team is generally better than a struggling one, from a business POV.

I was not aware of his history with Seattle, though.

Mark4
Mark4

@sulliva What we "get" is that Seattle expected to keep an NBA franchise by voting down a new arena, and trying to continue in a decades old arena.  That was never going to happen, and Stern, who is an a-hole, TOLD you that over a period of years leading up to the move.  Your ownership group also didn't do due diligence on minority owners who might some day buy the team.  San Antonio fended off both Clay Bennett and the MaDoof brothers in the last 20 years.  Don't let the weasel in the hen house in the first place.

sonicrage
sonicrage

@Holden @grips There is a documentary called Sonicsgate - please watch before making conclusions that are incorrect

Drewmantics
Drewmantics

@Mark4 @djs425 Spurs are trash, nobody cares what you have to say.  Isn't Texas the fattest state in the country?  Have another Subway cookie and you won't fit into your Manu jersey.

forks2
forks2

So you're bragging about how you were manipulated multiple times by NBA threats into levying taxes to subsidize billionaires?  During the worst financial downturn in 75 years?  I actually admire seattle for saying F U to the NBAs racket.

Merv
Merv

@Mark4 @djs425  Stop being an idiot Mark.  You clearly know nothing about the Seattle situation.  Why continue to be a fool

docgordo
docgordo

@Mark4 @djs425 Did Peter Holt dump players, salaries, and coaches all the while pursuing a complete BS arena plan that no one in the city would agree to for the ultimate goal of moving the team to OKC? Why don't you do a little research before shooting your mouth off.

Mark4
Mark4

@djs425 Six years later it was your ownership who wanted the new arena.  Twelve years later, your team moved because at THAT time, the NBA deemed it unfit.  Guess what?  That's life in major sports.  SA dumped $175M into our new arena that opened in 2002.  Five years later, it needed a refresh to the tune of $75M.  We paid for it, and extended the lease 5 more years.  The new arena was paid for by a hotel/rent car tax.  The refresh was paid for by extending it.  Almost no locals pay a dime.  It's paid for by out of towners.  Do you people in Seattle lack all imagination?

djs425
djs425

You obviously no nothing of what happened in Seattle. NBA requested a Key arena renovation or else team would move so the city spent 100+ million dollars in upgrading Key Arena and re-opened for the 95-96 season. 6 YEARS LATER it wasnt good enough, and owners wanted a new arena. Thats very unfair to ask of a city and it citizens 6 years after the arena was gutted and rebuilt. I wish people would comment on issues that they know of the facts of that issue. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qV4QLK0HnOc