The NBA hasn’t had a team in Seattle since 2007-08, and the city won’t figure to have a team in its grasp any time soon. The fact that this is a sustained point of knowledge as opposed to breaking news doesn’t make it any less frustrating.
Seattle mayor Ed Murray met with NBA commissioner Adam Silver on Monday to discuss the viability of the league either expanding by one team or the possibility that another franchise could relocate to Seattle prior to the expiration of an established funding agreement between the city and hoped-for team owner Chris Hansen.
In no uncertain terms, apparently, Silver told Murray that the league has no plans to either spark up a new team or re-locate an existing one to Seattle. From Geoff Baker at the Seattle Times:
“Their official line, and I think they’re being straightforward with me, is a city grabbing a team or a new (expansion) franchise at this point is not, in their mind, something they see happening,’’ Murray said Thursday of his Monday meeting with Silver and other league officials at NBA headquarters in New York City. “They actually expressed to me that they felt expectations in Seattle had been raised that weren’t consistent with what they had been sharing about a path to get there within the next few years.’’
An NBA source, who asked not to be named, confirmed Murray’s version of the meeting.
The funding agreement between Seattle and Hansen runs out in 2017. Still two years away, but typically not enough time to truly get the ball rolling at this point. There really isn’t even a figurative ball to work with. Here’s Murray again:
“I worry that it may not happen,’’ Murray said. “I worry that both councils will not go the full way toward approving this (arena) if there is no team. If it’s two or three years away, this will run out in 2017 and the whole thing will have to start over again.’’
Seattle deserves an NBA team. It must be galling for former SuperSonic fans to hear Adam Silver talk up the ridiculous notion of the never-gonna-happen European expansion just to raise the hopes of potential international fans when the NBA has a viable NBA option stateside.
An option that had a team stolen from it. By several out and out villains.
Starbucks magnate Howard Schultz bought the SuperSonics during the 2000-01 season, telling any bit of media that would listen that he was planning to spend like Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban as he took his new toy to the top of the standings. Schultz quickly went cheap, he was not exactly a model owner in his time with the beloved team in the adopted hometown that made him billions, and he completely sold out the city that made him billions by selling to an Oklahoma City-based ownership group that had clear behind the scenes (and then on the record) designs on moving the team to Oklahoma City.
Former NBA commissioner David Stern, caught at the height of his “let’s please the red states!”-mania, hardly got in the way as Seattle balked at funding yet another sports stadium, and greased the wheels for the duplicitous OKC owners to move out of Seattle. Even after they’d been proven as liars. Those owners took Kevin Durant and a just-drafted Russell Westbrook with them, and they’ve been running the Thunder on the cheap ever since. Perhaps Howard Schultz gave them some parting advice.
(Seriously, any NBA fan with a soul should be boycotting Starbucks.)
The problem here is that the NBA shouldn’t expand, even with the continued influx of new international talent, and it shouldn’t take a team away from Milwaukee, Sacramento, Charlotte or New Orleans as all manner of valuable money-making options are being sorted out in each of those at-times struggling markets. Silver has stressed repeatedly that he’d throw himself in front of any train that would be taking a team out of its current city and into a new location. The league has an even 30 franchises, Chris Hansen himself is no saint, and this unfortunate amalgamation of bad timing and, frankly, crummy luck will probably end up leaving Seattle in the cold for quite a while.
It’s an absolute shame. And there is no obvious solution present to fix it.
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