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Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times reporter Sharon Chan.

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January 8, 2008 2:22 PM

Pure speculation: Could Storm co-buyer bend Ballmer's ear on Sonics?

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano


MARK HARRISON / THE SEATTLE TIMES

A group of Seattle women, led by former Seattle Deputy Mayor Anne Levinson, and including Microsoft executive Lisa Brummel, second from right, and former executive Dawn Trudeau, third from right, is buying the team from the Sonics ownership group for $10 million.

One of the Seattle women buying the Storm WNBA franchise from Clay Bennett is a senior Microsoft executive. Lisa Brummel, senior vice president of human resources, has a close relationship with Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, whose name has been floated as a could-be white knight to keep the Sonics in Seattle.

Another buyer is Dawn Trudeau, who was general manager of the Consumer Product Group at Microsoft, leaving the company in 1998, after 14 years, according to a Microsoft spokeswoman.

The story of how Brummel came to be the boss of human resources is well known. It involved some heavy recruiting by Ballmer.


Here's an excerpt from a profile of Brummel I wrote in 2006:

Brummel, 46, grew up in Westport, Conn., received a degree in sociology from Yale and started her career selling college textbooks. She was recruited by Microsoft while finishing an MBA at University of California at Los Angeles.

She spent 16 years in a variety of management roles throughout Microsoft's product groups before reluctantly accepting the top human-resources post. During an evening meeting in her office, she said "no" three times before Chief Executive Steve Ballmer persuaded her to assume responsibility for keeping a global work force happy and aligned with company goals.

Other reporters have described the recruiting session even more vividly. The best is this excerpt from a September 2007 Business Week story:

When Ballmer floated the HR job in April, 2005, Brummel said: No way. But Ballmer wasn't about to take no for an answer. Picking up a traveling golf putter, the Microsoft chief started taking it apart as he barreled around Brummel's office, hammering home why she was the perfect candidate. As an outsider unsullied by HR dogma, he said, she'd bring a fresh approach. Besides, Ballmer argued, Brummel was hugely popular and had the people skills to get the job done. The two went back and forth, with Ballmer slapping Brummel's whiteboard for emphasis and Brummel parrying with: "But I love doing products." After more than two hours, Ballmer ended the meeting. By then the putter was in pieces. "Sorry about the golf club," he said.

I don't know much about the economics of pro basketball franchises, but I'll guess it would be better to keep NBA and WNBA franchises together as a matched set.

Maybe Brummel and her co-owners see it the same way. And maybe in an office up in Building 34 on Microsoft's campus, Brummel will disassemble a putter and slap Ballmer's whiteboard in an attempt to get him to buy the Sonics and keep them in town. They could even build a new arena for the team and give naming rights to Microsoft.

And, of course, Microsoft Stadium (aka the X Box) would be perfectly suited to host the company's annual all-employee meeting.

(Full disclosure: I like basketball and I'd like to see the Sonics stay, too.)

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Posted by savesonics

6:13 PM, Jan 08, 2008

Wonderful idea! The man is a basketball fan, and more importantly a SONICS basketball fan.

One hang up...THE SONICS AREN'T FOR SALE! Clay and the fellers from Oklehomy WANT the Sonics playing in the OKC Ford Center asap.

Steve, you would make the PERFECT white knight!

Posted by Supersonicoul.com

8:20 PM, Jan 08, 2008

Anything's for sale if the price is right.

Posted by Tim McGee

9:48 PM, Jan 08, 2008

I think the last ownership group ruined the Sonics, time to let them go and in 5 years they will be for sale again because Clay Bennett will become disgusted with the poor turnout in OKC. Let them burn, bring the Blazers north and let Paul Allen have his glory with 2 Seattle franchises and 2 titles.

Posted by pb2131

10:04 PM, Jan 08, 2008

You can't own two sports franchises in the same city. Blazers will have to stay in portland unfortunately.

Posted by Ryan

11:46 PM, Jan 08, 2008

Supersonicsoul.com is right, when money talks, people listen. Including Clay Bennett. pb2131, you are wrong. Jerry Reinsdorf owns the Chicago Bulls and Chicago White Sox.

Posted by dbtnelson

9:27 AM, Jan 09, 2008

Maybe he can build a "state of the art" arena that looks like a huge XBox! haha!

Posted by acs

10:04 AM, Jan 09, 2008

Seattle is just not a good NBA town, at least not since 2000. When I moved up here from Oregon, it didn't take long to see that the people here love their Mariners #1 and Seahawks #2. There is no room for Sonics. It's a good thing the Blazers stay in Oregon, where basketball is a bigger sport than it is in the Seattle area.

Posted by MarkS

7:18 PM, Jan 09, 2008

acs

When you move here from Oregon the Sonics were on the downswing. Had you been here in the nineties you'd have known the Sonics and Mariners were at the top and the Seahawks were an afterthought.

Do not pretend to speak for this area till you've lived here a while

Posted by sonicsfanau

11:07 PM, Jan 09, 2008

If this happened i would buy another 360 and a few copies of Windows Vista in celebration.

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