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NBA commissioner wants Sonics back in Seattle

Retiring NBA commissioner David Stern wants to bring the Sonics back to Seattle before he hangs up his hat.
David Stern, commission of the National Basketball Association

David Stern, commission of the National Basketball Association Eric Richardson/Flickr

NBA Commissioner David Stern disclosed Thursday that he will retire Feb. 1, 2014 after 30 years in office. Along with Stern's announcement came a report from Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports that among Stern's agenda items in his last two years is to ensure that professional basketball is returned to Seattle.

"The NBA is indeed leaning on the Maloofs to sell their franchise so that it could be relocated to Seattle," Wojnarowski reported.

The Maloof family, owners of the troubled Sacramento Kings, recently backed out of an agreement on a new arena with the city of Sacramento after it was dissuaded from pursuing a relocation effort to Anaheim. Meanwhile, a group of investors headed by San Francisco hedge fund manager Chris Hansen are in the process of building a new basketball/hockey facility in Seattle's Sodo district.

"Between now and his departure, Stern is determined to get a franchise back into Seattle," league sources told Wojinarowski. "He has become a strong ally of Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer's group to bring back the NBA there. Ballmer's group has been trying to get the Maloof family to sell the Sacramento Kings, so that the franchise can eventually play in a new arena in Seattle.

The story continues:

"From the league office, pressure on the Maloofs to sell has been growing . . . just as hopes for a new Sacramento arena have  been fading. Seattle Sonics fans will never forgive Stern for his complicit role in Clay Bennett's deception to move that franchise to  Oklahoma City, but make no mistake: Stern desperately wants to return the NBA to one of its great markets and wants it for his own measure of vindication before he leaves office.

As one source involved in the process said, 'Stern has enough time to get a team back to Seattle, but he'll let Silver deal with the crowd (booing) on opening night.'"

Adam Silver is Stern's hand-picked choice to become the commissioner after Stern leaves office.

A reporter asked Stern Thursday if he had any regrets about his 30-year stint as commissioner. He did not specifically mention the former Sonics, but in a 2011 interview on an ESPN.com podcast, Stern mentioned the SuperSonics’ departure as one of his regrets.

“My regrets are that we didn’t do a – weren’t able to do a — better job of getting a building moved along so that we could have kept  a team there," Stern said. “I have regrets about both Vancouver and Seattle. I think Seattle is a very prime city for an NBA franchise.”

Art Thiel is co-founder of Sportspressnw.com, a former sports columnist for The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and author of the 2003 regional best seller about the Seattle Mariners, Out of Left Field.


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Comments:

Posted Fri, Oct 26, 6:24 p.m. Inappropriate

We can have basketball tomorrow by moving a team into the Tacoma Dome.

jabailo

Posted Fri, Oct 26, 8:05 p.m. Inappropriate

Memo to whoever at Crosscut writes headlines for stories like this: The NBA is not, repeat NOT, going to move the Oklahoma City Thunder back to Seattle. An existing team from somewhere else, or perhaps an expansion team, will be placed in Seattle, and more than likely be named the Seattle SuperSonics (though I think that's a really bad idea). GET THIS STRAIGHT, PLEASE.

Oh, and I knew at some point someone in the NBA would come to realize blowing off the 12th-largest media market in the U.S. was a rather bad idea...

orino

Posted Sat, Oct 27, 8:43 a.m. Inappropriate

If Stern craves some sort of vindication before he leaves the commissioner's office, that's the best reason I've heard not to build the arena--I've no interest in helping him feel good, at all.

I'm also not interested in doing to Sacramento what was done to us.

Ryan

Posted Wed, Oct 31, 8:08 a.m. Inappropriate

Stern is nothing but the public face for a bunch of corporate extortionists. Whether he brings a team to Seattle or not (and I prefer not), that will be his legacy.

swendr

Posted Thu, Nov 1, 9:15 a.m. Inappropriate

I'll support a new team in Seattle, but I won't go to games. My team was stolen.
I truly wish bad things for David "I like it up my" Stern as he attempts to enjoy his ill-gotten retirement: fire, flood, famine, dead pets, and a shorter retirement than Joe Paterno.
Oskar Schindler would have said the same thing about Stern as about Howard Schultz: "Gee, sorry, you're not on my list....can you move along?"

Posted Fri, Nov 2, 11:01 a.m. Inappropriate

Sure, the NBA would be willing to send a team with sick ownership to Seattle -- until it gets a better offer. Stern is a hypocrite and his replacement will surely be just as bad.

Kafkaeske

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