There is chatter again suggesting that the Hornets may be Seattle-bound. That may just be wishful thinking. Or it could be an attempt to gage reaction and take Seattle's temperature on their desire for another team. A Steve Ballmer-owned team. In case you forgot, there used to be a team in Seattle known as the SuperSonics. They won the City's only Championship trophy in 1979 and were bought and sold by a coffee tycoon to an out of state group that moved the team. Remember all of this? Sounding familiar? That was three years ago.
Most seem ready to dump the financial burden on Microsoft Chairman Steve Ballmer's feet to buy a team and fund a new arena. Ballmer tried to buy the team from Bennett to prevent the Sonic’s move and has been long rumored to want to bring a team back to Seattle. Rumor has it he recently cashed in nearly a billion in stock, giving him the immediate capital needed to do both. But with the lockout looming, is this really a good time to buy?
It's a new day and age for both Seattle and the NBA. Seattle is doing just fine. They avoided pumping millions into an arena during the worst economic recession in memory. In hindsight it was a blessing, despite the fact it cost the city a franchise. It was a fiscally responsible decision despite the emotional loss. And meanwhile the NBA is in big trouble; bankrupt teams, a lockout looming, player unrest, the LaBron debacle and the threat of team contraction to stanch the hemorrhaging losses of league revenues.
The Hornets financial woes forced the NBA to buy the team out from notoriously bad owner, George Shin until a new owner can be found. The Hornets continue to struggle in New Orleans. Attendance is down nearly 10 percent despite having super-star Chris Paul and a team in the playoff hunt. Has enough 'post-Katrina' time passed to allow the team to move without it being considered politically incorrect?
Some will try and compare a potential relocation of the Hornets to Bennett's hijacking the Sonics and moving them. That is total nonsense. They'll say supporting the move is hypocritical. Make no mistake - it isn't the same thing. That argument holds no weight or leverage and embracing it is ignorance.
Bennett bought the team and went public from day insisting he wanted to keep them in Seattle, period. Later it was proven via emails he had no intention at all of ever following through on that. His subsequent actions removed any doubt about his agenda the whole time: moving the team to OKC. That was a hijacking. The Hornets situation is different for several reasons; the team is broke and the city cannot support it financially. That was not the case in Seattle. The city always supported the team when the product on the floor warranted it. Like any pruduct, if you make it worth consuming, people will. Offering up the worst product possible, as Bennett did to Seattle, and complaining when they didn't buy it up, is the ultimate hypocrisy.
The Hornets will be leaving New Orleans, period. Destination? Unknown. The NOLA market cannot sustain the team, be it from lack of fan interest or lack of fans with money buying tickets. Make no mistake; this team is gone and it will not be from a hijacking. Whether or not Ballmer is the answer remains to be seen. What
I want to know if Bennett will be cooperative in returning the Supersonic name and logos to Seattle should a team return there. And will Stern tuck his tale between his legs and publicly support both a team and the Sonics name being returned to its rightful place; Seattle.