Back in February of last year I wrote that the NBA NEEDS Seattle and today, almost a year later, David Stern has approved a deal that brings professional ball back to the Emerald City. The deal allows the Sacramento Kings to finish up the season in “cow-town” before moving to Key Arena in Seattle for the 2013-14 season.
Before I go into the specifics and the celebration that has already commenced across the Twitter/sports universe in Washington state, I want to point out first and foremost that this is not exactly how Seattle sports fans wanted to get a team back. Having gone through the evil leadership of the Clay ownership group, Sonics fans have an acute awareness of how shitty it feels to have your hometown team stripped out from underneath you. So a deep apology out to those in Sacramento who are hearing this news and are heartbroken to lose their only pro franchise. At least in Seattle there were the Seahawks, Mariners, and eventually the Sounders left in the wake of the ex-Thunder’s departure. This case is certainly a different story of a town leaving town.
1. The Maloof Brothers suck – at most things
- The Maloof brothers were an incompetent ownership group in every sense unless you are judging them on their ability to milk their franchise for any/every possible ounce of profit. They have taunted the local government in California into striking phenomenal deals that favor them (most recently this). They have bankrupted their team and though they had a strong stretch losing to Shaq and Kobe’s Lakers every year, they have zero NBA titles to show for their efforts (Editor’s note: Tim Donaghy, we’ll be sending you that yearly fruit basket shortly).
- Their family had one serious cash cow–booze. The Maloofs have exclusive distribution rights over Corona, Coors, Guinness, Heineken, and other brews. They sold those rights in 2010 for a boatload of cash. In the middle of a recession. Come on.
- The other ventures started by the brothers (a music company, a skateboarding contest series, a film production company) haven”t turn too much of a profit.
- Clay Bennett was very good at a whole bunch of financial ventures. He is the Chairman of the Dorchest Capital Corporation, a hedge fund giant, and has brought in plenty of jobs and money to Oklahoma City. He made his own empire (though his in-laws are wealthy and used to have a stake in the Texas Rangers).
- When Clay Bennett and his ownership group bought the Sonics they said all the right things about wanting to stay in Seattle. At the time they had a recently renovated Key Arena and a fan base supporting a poor on the court product. Then came talk that the team would not be profitable unless it had a brand new arena, one that needed to be financed by Seattle tax payers. The original overtures of wanting to keep the Sonics in Seattle shifted quickly, and less than five years later those hideous blue jerseys were seen for the first time in OKC.
- The Maloofs intended to build a champion off the bat. They purchased top notch players, drafted decently, hired solid coaches, and were legitimate contenders in the West. Their stadium (then ARCO Arena) was reviled by opposing players for its noise and intensity. They certainly were screwed on their timeline as they had to get by Shaq, Kobe, Timmy (and later, the Mavs) to get anywhere in the playoffs. Once the Maloofs got bored with their toy basketball team, it became time to start stripping it for parts and angling for profits from the city of Sacramento and the NBA. They simply didn’t have the juice to sustain a long-term vision for their franchise. It’s important to note this did not start happening until almost a decade after assuming ownership. Again, not saying its any less hard to stomach, but the Maloofs did not buy the team on a lie, stealing them right out from underneath Sacramento and sending them into the bowels of Oklahoma.