Sonics fans cry foul on Bennett
If Brian Robinson isn't the most fanatical Sonics booster around, he's surely one of the most dedicated. The 34-year-old coffee-shop owner...
Seattle Times staff columnist
If Brian Robinson isn't the most fanatical Sonics booster around, he's surely one of the most dedicated.
The 34-year-old coffee-shop owner buys season tickets. He sometimes attends the team's practices. He runs a fan Web site, SonicsCentral.com, where "we bleed green and gold." When most Sonics lovers were in despair after Oklahoma businessmen bought the team, Robinson started a group called Save Our Sonics and Storm to push for keeping both pro teams in town.
The group, now with 5,000 members, has been the most ardent backer of owner Clay Bennett and his quest for an arena, even meeting with him to coordinate strategy.
So it was eye-opening last week when Robinson abruptly blasted Bennett as inept. A quitter. An owner whose political effort has been "appalling."
"The guy's contribution to Seattle basketball has been a complete and 100 percent zero," Robinson wrote on his site.
"Yes, you can count me as off the bandwagon," he added when I called. "I no longer believe we can give this guy the benefit of the doubt."
He's not alone. Over at Supersonicsoul.com, "the Sonics blog for the Sonics people," Peter Nussbaum, a fan of the team since the '70s, summed how he felt about Bennett with a single word: "Jerk."
That was after Bennett complained to The Kansas City Star that nobody in Seattle is helping him build an arena.
"No hue and cry, no letters to the editor, nothing by the media or talk on the call-in shows, or no new ideas on how to get it done. No private ideas on the table," Bennett said.
"That's just obscene," Nussbaum responded.
First, it isn't true. Real-estate mogul David Sabey has talked about an arena in Tukwila. Supposedly, the Muckleshoot Tribe has expressed interest. Even naysayers like me have urged a compromise plan to redo KeyArena.
It's also ungrateful, Nussbaum wrote.
"Here are these fellows at SonicsCentral, completely unpaid, devoting all their free time to help Bennett succeed, and he completely urinates all over their efforts."
Robinson doesn't take it that personally. He likes Bennett. But he has decided to fight him. He's working on an initiative measure to try to restrict Bennett's ability to buy his way out of the KeyArena lease, which runs through 2010.
"My goal is to keep the team here," Robinson said. "To do that, it looks like we're going to have to get adversarial with Clay. I've been one of his biggest supporters, but the grace period is over."
Does any of this matter? It's Bennett's team and he probably can move it if he wants.
But he is supposed to make a "good-faith effort" to keep the team here. The NBA may not let him leave otherwise.
The other day Bennett was asked if he'd be willing to put more money into an arena. He answered: "Why should I?"
Sounds like something my 7-year-old might say.
People keep saying Bennett's trying, that he has the best of intentions.
About all he's done, though, is turn his biggest fan into a foe. Doesn't seem like much of an effort to me.
Danny Westneat's column appears Wednesday and Sunday. Reach him at 206-464-2086 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Danny Westneat
Danny Westneat takes an opinionated look at the Puget Sound region's news, people and politics. Send tips or comments to email@example.com. His column runs Wednesday and Sunday.
firstname.lastname@example.org | 206-464-2086
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