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April 18, 2008 1:45 PM
Posted by Percy Allen
By a vote of 28-2, the NBA Board of Governors today endorsed the recommendation of the NBA Relocation Committee and approved the move of the Sonics from Seattle to Oklahoma City for the 2008-09 season, subject to a resolution of the pending litigation between the Sonics and the city of Seattle that removes any requirement for the team to play at KeyArena for the next two seasons.
The Sonics must pay a $30 million relocation fee.
Commissioner David Stern addressed the media and encouraged the city of Seattle and the Sonics to resolve their legal matters with a financial settlement. Stern had his talking points. He reitterated several times that Sonics current and past ownerships have made four unsuccessful attempts to solve the team's arena problems.
He said the despite the e-mails released by the city last week in which members of the Oklahoma City-based ownership group talk about moving the team there, Stern believes team chairman Clayton Bennett operated in good faith.
Bennett was also very emotional on this topic. He said his comments were misconstrued. When he wrote "I'm a man possessed," Bennett said he was referring to finding an arena solution in Seattle.
He admitted that co-owners Aubrey McClendon and Tom Ward want a team in Oklahoma City, but was told that it would not be the Sonics.
Bennet said that his emotions were mixed because he's "disappointed we couldn't make it work in Seattle" and "I'm very happy for the people in Oklahoma."
Bennett would like to keep the Sonics name, history in logo in Seattle and begin a new history in the Sooner State.
Here's Governor's Christine Gregoire's response to the relocation.
And read Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell's both issued a response.
"I'm disappointed that NBA leadership has ignored calls for good-faith efforts to keep the Sonics in Seattle and rewarded the bad-faith behavior of Clay Bennett and his ownership group," said Senator Murray. "Violating the public's trust with empty promises is unacceptable, and the NBA's decision today sets a poor precedent."
"For decades the Sonics have been part of the Seattle community and its culture," said Senator Cantwell. "As an avid sports fan, I'm dismayed to see the NBA rewarding such unsportsmanlike conduct. The Sonics ownership misrepresented their true intentions to the community and yet the NBA gives them a bonus for this bad-faith effort."
***UPDATE 7:42 P.M.*** There was a question below about the 28-2 vote. Well, Bennett was able to vote and obviously he voted for the move. The dissenting votes were cast by Portland Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.
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