Rumors and updates have been trickling out of Sacramento all month, among them a bidding war between investment groups in Sacramento and Seattle vying for ownership of the Kings. The latest twist in the saga has NBA commissioner David Stern delaying the votes to approve the team's sale and whether to move it to Seattle, and then reversing the order of those votes. Owners will now vote on whether to move the Kings before voting on whether to approve the team's sale to Chris Hansen. It's a switch that arguably gives the advantage to Sacramento by allowing that city to put its strongest case forward. And it only adds to the perception that Stern is stacking the deck in favor of Sacramento.
That's the exact opposite of what happened here a few years back, when Stern all but conspired with Clay Bennett to steal the Sonics away to Oklahoma City. Stern is still reviled in Seattle, and rightly so. And that's something else for NBA owners to consider: Our feelings are still bruised, and our patience is limited.
Apply different rules to Seattle's bid for the Kings, and we will understand it as the unprecedented dis it truly is.
To be clear: Without public and political support—and most importantly, a team to prop this support up—the Sodo arena deal could still die. Seriously. The arena doesn't get built until Hansen secures a team. And NBA owners shouldn't fool themselves that we'll wait around forever.
The NBA has never before rejected the sale of a team to qualified owners. So if the league wants a franchise in Seattle, either the owners need to show us the same respect they showed Oklahoma City—and approve this deal—or they better quickly turn around and grant us an expansion franchise (thereby adding a new team to the league). Because the longer we go without a team, the more opportunity there will be for our process-driven political system to undermine the Sodo arena deal.
A lot of politicians stuck their necks out to make this happen. And a lot of taxpayers like me, who vehemently opposed previous arena proposals, put our knee-jerk opposition to public financing aside in order to embrace the relatively fair deal offered by Hansen. But a lot can happen between now and the time the arena's environmental review is completed. Like an election. And who knows? Perhaps Mayor Ed Murray won't bother spending the political capital necessary to see his predecessor's biggest accomplishment through to completion?
If the NBA doesn't want to be in the Seattle market, fine. But if they think they'll gain anything by toying with our affections, they better think again. We told the league to go fuck itself once, and we're perfectly capable of doing it a second time.