COMMENTARY | Chris Hansen may be simultaneously the best thing and the worst thing Seattle basketball fans have going for them.
You probably know the story by now, but just in case you've been spending the dog days of summer hiding under a rock, here's a brief synopsis:
In early August, news broke that the law firm of Loeb & Loeb, which has often represented the Maloof family, wired at least $80,000 to an organization trying to get the new arena deal on to a ballot for a direct vote by the people. In an earlier article, I speculated that the Maloofs could be behind the donation, acting out of spite, and if it wasn't them, Hansen was a likely suspect.
As it turns out, Hansen was behind the campaign contribution. Apparently, not even a shot at revenge will get the tightfisted Maloofs to open their pocketbooks. This is bad news for those hoping the Sonics will be coming back soon.
Hansen was contrite after it became public that he was behind the money. He apologized and offered a weak promise to stay out of Sacramento politics from this point forward. Sports commentators have rightly pointed out that this revelation makes him look petty, spoiled, dishonest, and downright crooked (The Sacramento Bee noted that it actually constitutes illegal activity because the disclosure, which was forced by a lawsuit, didn't come in the required period of time). All of this is true, but it doesn't speak to the real reason why this stinks for those wanting basketball back in Seattle.
NBA owners have a very exclusive club. It's aptly described as a fraternity. Right now, Kings owner Vivek Ranadive, a naturally charismatic man, is a popular new figure in that fraternity. He has bold ideas about international expansion of the NBA and other owners may seem him as somebody who can help their own franchises. Hansen's more like a freshman going through rush that desperately wants into the next pledge class. Going forward, Ranadive has the opportunity to deepen friendships within that fraternity, forge alliances, and build a faction that will thwart any of Hansen's future attempts to obtain a team, be it through expansion or poaching another faltering franchise like the Milwaukee Bucks. I'm sure Clay Bennett would be more than happy to partner with him on such an endeavor. And you know what it is that they say about paybacks.
Hansen's not a completely lost cause, and Seattle is a market that clearly deserves a professional basketball team. But the man in the center of that effort is now damaged goods, and he needs to rehabilitate his image. Current efforts are inadequate. He needs to do something bold to mitigate the harm he has done. Taking a public stance against STOP would be one such move. Another would be to place an op-ed in the local papers stating that his passion for the game simply got the better of him, and that he thinks the citizens of Sacramento should rally behind the new arena plans.
Who knows, a little glad-handing might go a long way.
Doug Brockwell is a lifelong follower of NBA basketball who grew up cheering for the Denver Nuggets. After relocating to Northern California in 2008, he began to follow the Sacramento Kings, who remind him of the endearingly hapless Nuggets squads of the '90s that he endured as a kid.
- Sports & Recreation
- Chris Hansen