Wednesday, July 02, 2008

And the Sonics are gone...

Well, the details of the Sonics settlement have finally come out [Sharon Pian Chan and Jim Brunner, The Seattle Times], and it looks like they will in fact be moving to Oklahoma City sooner rather than later in exchange for $75 million dollars ($45 million if the city gets another NBA team within five years). That's much better than the $26.5 million Bennett offered in February before the trial, but it leaves me with plenty of questions for the city. Their whole case revolved around the idea of "specific performance", the idea that money alone could not replace an NBA team. What about the passionate testimony from writer and fan Sherman Alexie? What about Mayor Nickels' testimony [Greg Johns, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer] about being an eternal optimist, where he said "A lot can happen in two years?" What about the testimony from economist Andrew Zimbalist, who said he couldn't put a dollar value on what the Sonics bring to the community? What about the city's arguments, repeated over and over, that you can't replace the team with money? It seems to me that they've gone back on their entire arguments and decided you can quantify the team's value after all. The city will surely claim that this was the best possible option, but if they had had the guts to wait for Judge Pechman's ruling, the team might not have left at all. They took the safe route out, and sold the Sonics down the river (or perhaps one of the east-west highways) for 75 million pieces of silver. Betrayal is certainly more profitable these days.

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