Much to his Chagrin
By Michael Shagrin, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Friday, January 11, 2013
Much to my chagrin, it looks like the city of Sacramento will lose its beloved NBA team at the close of the season. If the rumors are true, the Sacramento Kings will relocate under new ownership to Seattle.
After years of high profile kvetching and moral indignation from disgruntled Washingtonians, a group of investors led by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and hedge fund manager Chris Hanson have apparently offered to buy the Kings from its current owners, the financially floundering Maloof brothers, for around $500 million.
The question of professional basketball’s return to Seattle has never been a question of “if,” but “when.”
In 2006, after negotiations for a new government-funded arena stalled between the city of Seattle and then-SuperSonics owner and Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, the team was sold to Oklahoma City businessman Clay Bennett.
Bennett promised the Seattle’s citizens that his foremost priority as owner of the SuperSonics would be to secure funding for a new arena and to ensure the longevity of the Sonics in the Pacific Northwest. By 2008, the Seattle SuperSonics had mutated into the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Over the last two years, the Maloof brothers performed a similar song and dance for public consumption.
Anxious not to be painted as the bad guys, the Maloofs cautiously looked for ways to unload the Kings to new owners who could keep the team in Sacramento while simultaneously trying to finagle a new arena from the cash-strapped city.
When former NBA player — and Sacramento mayor — Kevin Johnson finally orchestrated an arena deal that seemed palatable to all parties, the Maloofs abruptly reneged.
So today, the big picture has come into focus. The NBA in Sacramento looks all but doomed, while new life just might be breathed into Seattle’s relationship with professional basketball. It’s easy to envision Seattle’s restless basketball community unanimously celebrating the return of the Sonics, taking to the streets and doing whatever it is you can legally do to celebrate in Washington.
However, after five years of venomous rancor from resentful basketball fans and easily agitated socialists, some might find it tough to inflict the very injury that they themselves were subject to only five years ago.
Pragmatic or not, many SuperSonics diehards are having trouble stomaching the thought of ripping away Sacramento’s only professional sports team.
I decided I should track down a Seattle native to hear how he felt about the impending return of the Sonics. The job was easier than expected. I spotted one, Kevin Kennedy ’13, decked out in retro Sonics’ colors of forest green and yellow. I started the conversation by asking a simple question, “Do you feel guilty?”
“It’s hard to feel guilty for punching someone after already getting punched,” Kennedy said.
“But what if you’re not getting the guy who punched you?” I asked.
“That’s not how life works,” Kennedy said. “You don’t usually get the opportunity to punch the guy who hit you first. You still have the anger of getting punched, though, so you just need to find someone else with their fists down.”
In an effort to gauge how the people of Sacramento might feel about their franchise once it departs for Seattle, I asked how Kennedy felt about the Oklahoma City Thunder when they moved from Seattle to Oklahoma City in 2008.
“I think OKC should take the Kings and we should get the Thunder roster,” said Kennedy, before going back to dispensing abstract wisdom. “Seeing Oklahoma City is like having a bojive junkyard minivan, selling it to someone, then seeing it land on Pimp My Ride.”
So what’s the moral of the story for Seattle basketball fans?
“If you complain long enough and loud enough,” Kennedy declared triumphantly, “you get what you want.”