Email reveals doubletalk by Seattle Sonics owners

By Laurie Bennett

April 11, 2008 at 8:47am
Seattle SuperSonics logo

Once again, newsmakers are tripping over the differences between their public statements and their private email. This time it’s the owners of the Seattle Sonics who have to explain the wide gap between their PR stance (We want to do everything possible to keep the team in Seattle) and their behind-the-scenes conversation (Can’t wait to move them to Oklahoma!).

“I have been lied to. All of the people of the state of Washington have been lied to,” Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire said Thursday. “I’m shocked and I’m very disappointed.”

The e-mail messages, involving new owners Clay Bennett , Aubrey McClendon and Tom Ward, were revealed in a court filing this week as part of Seattle’s federal lawsuit to enforce the Sonics’ lease at KeyArena.

In an e-mail April 17, 2007, Ward wrote, “Is there any way to move here [Oklahoma City] for next season or are we doomed to have another lame duck season in Seattle?”

Bennett replied, “I am a man possessed! Will do everything we can. Thanks for hanging with me boys, the game is getting started!”

This exchange is at wide variance with an email Bennett sent NBA Commissioner David Stern on the same date, insisting that he and his partners had not discussed moving the team out of Seattle.

Now the move appears to be a done deal. “It’s apparent to all who are watching that the Sonics are heading out of Seattle,” Stern said at the All-Star game. “I accept that inevitability at this point.”

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  • #1.   Jake 04.11.2008

    They’ve been lied to. Sure. All Bennett and his group did in public was try to get an arena built. Who cares what they said in private? This is a smokescreen by the Washington politicians designed to hide the fact that they did nothing to get an arena built in Seattle. They were told almost two years ago that if they built an arena, the Sonics would stay, and if they didn’t the Sonics would leave. That was the truth, and there are no secret e-mails to disprove that fact. So, if the pols really wanted the Sonics to stay, they knew what they had to do. Instead, they ignored Bennett and ignored the deadline. Now they want to deflect any negative publicity about their inaction onto the owners, who were upfront about what the city had to do to keep the team from day one

  • #2.   Seth 04.12.2008

    Jake must be an Okie. Jake, you are an evil, evil person. You want to take something that is not yours, but in your mind want to still think you are a good person. Guess what… you are not. In fact, you are a low life scum. Yes, it was sure a great deal for us Seattle-folk to have an out-of-town buyer who made outrageous offers with the ‘intent’ of having them declined so that they could do what they wanted to begin with, steal the team. Sure is nice to deal with someone who intends on asking so much that you say no. Now you want to justify their actions because you really don’t mind benefiting from someone else’s immoral acts. Guess what, that makes you an accomplice. Have fun with your new team, you POS maggot. Next time something important to you is stolen from you, I hope part of you remembers that you in fact deserved it. I hope it stings bad enough for you to gain some form of humanity back. From the lack of intelligence and honesty in your post, I am guessing there is very little left in you.

  • #3.   MarK ROBISON 04.14.2008

    I agree with Seth–Jake u are a scum gag along with all the @&@&@*@**@ in piss ant Oklahoma City

  • #4.   John 04.14.2008

    Jake What relevence is it that “they were told two years ago” that they wanted a new arena or they’d move? The fact is they were going to move anyways and the arena issue was simply a smokescreen.

    The simple fact is Bennett from the beginning made a sham offer. The offer was never genuine, and the way he went about it made that very clear.

    He attempted to alienate the politicians and fans, which he did very succesfully.

    He traded all the good players in order to tank the team for draft peaks, which he did very successfully.

    He turned down countless offers of partner ships, investments, even free land from a local Indian tribe.

    He rejected keeping the Sonics in Seattle and proposed buiding the new $530M arena in the city of Renton.

    He made an arbitrary deadline for building an arena even though the region is struggling with transit gridlock and the Alaskan Way Viaduct which is so dangerous it will collapse in a mild earthquake.

    If he really wanted to stay in Seattle, he could have accepted a new lease arrangement so he would get all the revenue he needs to return to profitability while working with local investors to get more private funding sources for an arena remodel or build. (E.g. Steve Ballmer’s $150M offer).

    He was sold the team on the condition that he would try to keep the team in seattle. He lied and did not do so.

    So what you’re saying Jake, is that if you make a threat under false pretenses, all you have to do is wait for the passage of time and then following through on that threat makes you in the right! Oh yay! That’s fantastic.

    I think I’ll go through life now lying my ass off and swindling people. All I have to do is make it a big lie and wait a while, and then say “I told you so” and follow through on the threat.

  • #5.   John 04.14.2008

    Not to mention, Jake, that you should apply your “they should have known” logic to Clayton. He already knew that the previous owner had not been successful in getting a renovation!

    He “should have known” that a demand to build a new arena would be met with even less success! When he bought the team there was a good faith clause to keep the team in Seattle. He lied and violated that clause! As emails and public statements reveal, he never intended to keep the team in the city as it has been for 41 years!

    So Jake, the sack of feces named Clayton “should have known”!

    Good on the City for not honoring the arbitrary deadline. The deadline was set totally arbitrarily based on the new owners not wanting to wait too long before movign the team, but not so soon that it would arouse suspicion.

    I hope the city wins the lawsuit to enforce the lease. Don’t allow Clayton to break the law.

    Secondly is Clayton should go to jail for violating the terms of the sale as well as false public statements and negotiating in bad faith with the government.

    Third is after he goes to jail he should be banned from the NBA for life.

    Fourth after he is out of jail he should pay restitution to the fans for:

    1) Wasting the Government’s (and thus the taxpayers) time with his half baked lies
    2) Ruining the season for the season ticket, corporate and package holders by trading away all the players, sabotaging the season (the worst Sonics record in 41 years) in order to alienate the public to prove his point that Seattle doesn’t want the NBA while simultaneously garnering draft picks, and hiring a coach who would agree to cooperate with such a scheme.

  • #6.   AJ 04.18.2008

    Hey Seattle looks like you should built the damn areana.

    If you guys haven’t figuired this out yet it’s all about the money.

    I recently moved to the area Okc, and I can understand how you feel being a Cleveland Browns fan….(at least the sonics didn’t leave in the middle of the night). You’ll get over it and at some point you’ll get a new team.
    so quit the crying and move on!

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