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Thursday, July 31, 2008

Blunder to split games between OKC & Tulsa?

The NBA announced today that the Professional Basketball Club, LLC, owner of the Oklahoma City NBA franchise, has reached an agreement in principle to purchase the Tulsa 66ers of the NBA Development League from Southwest Basketball, LLC. Oklahoma City becomes the third NBA team to purchase an NBA D-League affiliate. This brings up speculation that the 66ers franchise, long considered one of the worst in the D-League, is being moved to OKC. According to a 66ers blog the 66ers have a new arena, so it'd be strange if they pulled the plug on the 66ers franchise roots in Tulsa. Will they join their brethren in OKC?

Or does this mean both teams will revolve between Tulsa and OKC? Bennett has publicly stated he wants to play some games in Tulsa, but will they be expansion games, league games or both? A team with a legitimate home town taking the show on the road? Hmmm. Did the BLUNDER just become the NBA's first official unofficial Blunder Brothers traveling circus show?

Does this increase their fan base, or is this the first insult to the OKC residents and fans, who assumed OKC was the Blunder's hometown? Is Bennett being savvy or is this an ill-fated attempt to get too big too quick? Isn't there some kind of long-standing intra-state rivalry between the two cities? Will this possible city split of games be a positive or negative?

Only time will tell.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

What's in a name?

A Seattle attorney informed me that Bennett had filed papers initially to name the team the Oklahoma City SuperSonics, but those papers execution have since been abandoned. I wondered why Bennett would want to keep the franchise name and the stigmna associated wiith the move. I suppose it would be to take advantage of the established brand recognition. Perhaps the cost associated with the renaming and rebranding of the team. Seems like the move will be topic of discussion with every OKC game next season.

Bennett also absconded with all the beloved logos from the teams history. They'll be returned to a new owner should Seattle regain another franchise named the Supersonics. There is some solace in that for me. I have a hard time stomaching the loss of the franchise, but it would be a never ending dagger to have to stumble across Sonic highlights on ESPN from the Ford Center.

How many franchises move and keep the same name? Lakers, Grizzlies, Braves and Kings come to mind. Those that changed? Oilers and Colts come to mind.

Whatever they choose to rename the team, I am just happy they do not get the privilege of the name 'Sonics'. How beloved are our sports nicknames to us? What about the color schemes? Are we to wrapped up in them? Do fans grow too close a bond to a mascot and color combo?

Nah.

The only thing I wish gone from the Sonic history are those horrible uniforms from the late '90's. It's too bad we had a championship run is those things. What an eyesore!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Fan Apathy - The Big Lie

I recently read an article by an Oklahoma writer who mocked Seattle and its fans, spouting "Oklahomans should enjoy the Sonics without the slightest shred of guilt" and went on to suggest this whole sordid affair was a result of fan apathy by Seattle fans. Teams move "all the time" and had Seattle simply supported its team, none of this may have happened.

Yeah, right. And there were WMD’s in Iraq.

Both of these classic tales are woven through misdirection and false innuendo. Anyone who looks into the facts knows both to be lies of magnificent proportion.

For the 2008 season the Sonics averaged 13, 355 fans, or 78% capacity at Key Arena. 78% capacity for a 20-win team is pretty good in any sport. While both are low points for the team, this was in no way a trend or reflective of Seattle’s history of support for the team. This is a result of Clay Bennett’s plan to pry the team’s roots loose through his carefully orchestrated steps; create a bad on-court presence by dismantling of the team and the purging talent for future draft picks; alienate of the fan base through non-competitive on-court product: minimal local promotions and media access.

A team that is invisible, both on and off the court, surely will result in dwindling attendance figures. It’s impossible not to. Fans are only human and Bennett was banking on it. Attendance went down under Bennett’s ownership because he wanted it to, not because of fan indifference.

It’s a classic case of smoke and mirrors.

In fact, in 2007 the Sonics were 25th in the league in attendance. A figure that is slightly misleading because they were also averaging 93% capacity at Key Arena, with 15, 995 fans on average. In 2006 the Sonics were 23rd in the league in attendance, averaging 16,198 fans a night, or 95% of capacity.

Fan apathy? Are you kidding me? The facts prove the exact opposite. People who embrace the idea of fan apathy in Seattle embrace spin jobs, lies and innuendo. Seattle averaged over 90% attendance in the two seasons prior to Clay Bennett’s plan being exposed.

It really roils my blood that spin doctors claim Seattle didn’t support the team. It’s a blatant attempt to try and appease guilty minds by even suggesting it. Seattle supported the Sonics, but they didn’t support Bennett, because he didn’t want them to. Had Bennett wanted support he’d have built the team up, not torn it down. The theory he was doing it for the future only rings true in Oklahoma. Had he wanted success of any kind in Seattle he’d have kept Ray Allen and found a way to keep Rashard. But of course, they had Seattle roots. Something Bennett wasn’t interested in.

The writer of that article, Barry Tramel, writes for the Oklahoman newspaper, which is owned by Bennett's in-laws.

Still looking for those WMD’s, too. Probably right next to Bennett's Moral Code of Conduct book.

Monday, July 28, 2008

OKC BLUNDER

Well, we've gone from one NBA disaster to the next. The "new ball" debacle to the "suits on benches" attempt to show the NBA's authority. What a joke. Now this.

The Seattle Supersonics shamefully pried away from their beloved home of 41 years. Now, countless victories, bitter rivalries, nail-biting finishes, conference championships, playoff runs and a long established fan base are all wiped away and ignored. Screw the fans. Right?

All because of giant egos.

Clay's Bennett's lust for the biggest toy in the state starts the sad story. His single-handed dismantling of the Sonics franchise, at the expense of Seattle fans, is a shameful sin for the ages and another black eye on a league already struggling with bad press and waning fan interest. A man so focused on his goal of the NBA in OKC, he dismissed fans and players and the stability of the team to crush any interest in Seattle. The Sonics, under his tenure, were the worst in team history as he traded valuable players away, further damaging the on-court product. All of this a thinly veiled attempt to push away local fans to build for a future in an other state.

Ego.

He even sunk so low as to move the long-standing radio broadcasts down the dial in another attempt to further alienate the fanbase. Classy. He even refused to promote the team or allow player interviews, assuring minimal media interest, because his only plan was moving the team as quickly as possible. Yet the fans still came. Bennett executed his sabateur's plan to destroy the franshise in front of everyone's eyes while the NBA stayed complicit. Bennett has shown himself to be the ultimate poor sportsman; an egotistical 'me-first' player in a league where teamwork is the key.

Ego.

The biggest ego in the game, David Stern, backed his friend's plan from the beginning. Stern was an enabler for Bennett. Why? Why would someone want to allow a great franchise to be pried away by a dispicable snake-oil salesman? It helps fulfill two of Stern's personal agendas; punishing Seattle for having the basket-sized balls to stand up to him and his endless demands for more arena funding. After all, how could any city and state consider local fiscal responsibility before the NBA's? Well, Seattle did and the 12th largest market in the country was swapped for the 45th. Does this make sense? Of course not. Until you consider Stern's other motivations.

By exploiting the 'vast' OKC market, Stern allows intrusion onto Mark Cuban's Dallas Maverick market. A move of pure spite aimed at agitating the outspoken Cuban who, along with Portland TrailBlazer owner Paul Allen, were the two votes against relocation. Business-wise, Cuban knows this move makes no sense. No one believes it does.

Except two massive egos.

The true cost of this ego trip, as always, will be paid by the fans. Some going back 41 years.