With the recent announcement that billionaire investors will help a Seattle group completely renovate KeyArena, meaning that the city could be in line for a possible NHL or NBA team, it in some ways opened old wounds.
To this day, basketball fans in Seattle are upset that their beloved SuperSonics left in 2008 for Oklahoma City.
In a recent interview, David Stern, who was NBA commissioner when the Sonics left town, was asked if Seattle should have a team.
"I think they’re a town that should have a team," Stern told Nunyo Demasio on the Nunyo & Company podcast. "They have a history of support."
But support from fans wasn't enough.
Stern, who admitted that "fans are always caught in the middle" in franchise issues, pointed to the difference in what happened in Seattle and in Sacramento, a city that almost lost the Kings in 2013, but did not.
"The government officials of Sacramento went far in identifying a site and coming up with a series of subsidies that ultimately didn’t cost Sacramento anything. ... (Sacramento) mayor Kevin Johnson was out there doing whatever had to be done," Stern said. "In Seattle, I think it was the speaker of the Seattle house (who) said our players should take a cut in pay and put the money into the fund to help build the building. That’s nothing we had to work with.
"We tried hard, I testified, I visited with the governor. I did the same things in Seattle that I did in Sacramento, but there was a leader in Sacramento in Kevin Johnson who was intent on keeping that team, and remember, he was differently motivated. (In Seattle) there had been huge subsidies from the city for the baseball team and the football team to build their two buildings, so our basketball was the third man in. In Sacramento, this was the game and the city was very proud and had been very supportive. So we worked with them. But we tried to work with Seattle as well."
Demasio, who was a reporter in Seattle and covered the Sonics in the late 1990s-early 2000s, said that the thinking around Seattle was that Clay Bennett bought the team with the intent of moving it.
Stern said that wasn't how he remembered it.
"I remember Clay looked at everything from Bellevue to Indian reservations where there was land to knocking down the existing facility," he said. "There were all kinds that he was wiling to consider and we worked with him to consider it. But at the end of the day, that didn’t happen.
" ... I was satisfied as commissioner that he made a good faith effort."
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