By Daniel Hill
In 2008, the NBA’s SuperSonics were stolen from the city of Seattle and then made their way to Oklahoma City, where they were renamed the Thunder. The wheels are now in motion to make the current Sacramento Kings the new Seattle SuperSonics.
An ownership group from Seattle purchased a controlling interest of the Sacramento Kings. Under this agreement, it’s safe to say that the Kings might not be in Sacramento for next season.
The sale of the team from the Maloof family to Chris Hansen still needs to be approved by the NBA’s Board of Governors. Hansen is a wealthy hedge-fund manager who grew up in Seattle as a Sonics fan. Hansen, the public voice of the Seattle ownership group, has already purchased land and released a design for a new downtown arena, close in proximity to where the MLB’s Mariners and NFL’s Seahawks play. If the Kings are moved to Seattle, the Kings could play next season in Seattle’s Key Arena as a temporary home until Hansen’s new arena is finalized. Key Arena used to house the Sonics and is right by the Space Needle.
Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson, who happens to be a former NBA player himself, has exhausted every avenue for the last few years to try to keep the Kings in Sacramento by finding new local ownership. Despite mayor Johnson’s best efforts, the momentum and the facts illustrate that the NBA might not be in Sacramento next season. Clay Bennett, the chairman and CEO of the Oklahoma City Thunder, originally purchased the Sonics from Starbucks mogul Howard Schultz. Seattle natives are upset with the way Bennett handled the relocation of the Sonics.
First, Bennett insisted that he purchased the team to keep them in Seattle. Then he proceeded with a lackluster effort to build a new arena. Then when he was in the clear, he moved the franchise to Oklahoma City.
The problem is that the NBA will pit one city against another in an effort to secure public funds to build an arena. Owners of professional sports teams will rob the public with new and higher taxes in an effort to build a new arena that will produce better profits. Seattle was unwilling to give Clay Bennett what he wanted so he moved the team to Oklahoma City. Now, history is repeating itself because the Sacramento ownership has been threatening to move the Kings for years now unless they get a new arena. The Sacramento ownership caved in and has now sold the Kings to out-of-town owners who are almost certain to relocate the team to Seattle.
Sacramento has been a fantastic NBA town since 1985. Kings fans have a reputation for being some of the loudest in the league and now it seems like they won’t have a team. Seattle had 41 years of NBA history with the SuperSonics, including the 1979 NBA title. It’s not right that they had to lose their team.
It’s not fair to the fans and it’s not fair to the city to have an NBA team head out of town because of mistake-ridden ownership.
The Kings do appear to be in good hands as Hansen has teamed up with Steve Ballmer (CEO of Microsoft) and the Nordstrom brothers (Peter and Erik), wealthy Seattle locals who genuinely care about the future of NBA basketball. Although the Kings won’t be in Sacramento anymore, the franchise will be secure under strong ownership in Seattle
The Sonics should have never left Seattle and the Kings never should leave Sacramento.