Conspiring e-mails fly between Oklahoma-based Sonics owners
The city of Seattle has obtained thousands of e-mails from Clay Bennett's ownership group, the Professional Basketball Club, as part of...
The city of Seattle has obtained thousands of e-mails from Clay Bennett's ownership group, the Professional Basketball Club, as part of its lawsuit seeking to hold the Sonics to the team's KeyArena lease through September 2010.
Some of those e-mails — but not all — have been made public.
The latest e-mail discovery came Tuesday when previous owner Howard Schultz filed his own lawsuit in federal court against Bennett's ownership group for misrepresentation and fraud, asking that the sale be rescinded.
Here's a roundup of the e-mails released so far:
Bennett wrote to Tom Ward and Aubrey McClendon about the impending Sonics sale to their Oklahoma-based group: "No decision yet, we are told we are still the leading candidate. (Although the banker BS factor in these deals is a given.) They want to get our price up which I rejected. Also want a stronger commitment to good faith effort on a new building for 12 months, which I have no problem with. If we are successful we are probably looking at a sweet flip and with the strength of our group I think we would still be in good shape for something in OKC."
— July 11, 2006In an e-mail to his co-owners after the Oklahoma group had agreed to terms of the sale, McClendon wrote that the team should be called "the OKLAHOMA CITY SONIC BOOM (or maybe SONIC BOOMERS) baby!!!!!!"
— July 12, 2006Co-owners Ward and McClendon e-mailed each other about moving the Sonics to Oklahoma City as soon as possible. The communication was after one of the original Oklahoma partners had dropped out of the ownership group.
"I don't think that you and I really want to own a team there [Seattle] either but we are better partners," Ward wrote.
— Aug. 2, 2006Bennett, McClendon and Ward talk about whisking the Sonics away to Oklahoma as soon as possible even though it would mean breaching the KeyArena lease:
Ward: "Is there any way to move here [Oklahoma City] for next season or are we doomed to have another lame duck season in Seattle?"
Bennett: "I am a man possessed! Will do everything we can. Thanks for hanging with me boys, the game is getting started!"
Ward: "That's the spirit!! I am willing to help any way I can to watch ball here [in Oklahoma City] next year."
McClendon: "Me too, thanks Clay!"
— April 17, 2007In another exchange, Bennett told McClendon it was "quite likely" the team would play in Seattle another year but that he was "attempting quietly and without litigation" to "work through the lease."
— April 2007Bennett's PR representative, Brent Gooden, e-mailed Bennett with this question:
"Is [OKC City Manager] Jim Couch aware of plans to start negotiations with the City of Seattle? The reason I ask is that it will get out [everything does in Seattle] and the media will call ... We want to be sure we have it teed up and framed with them."
— May 22, 2007Tim Romani, an arena consultant for the Sonics, e-mailed Bennett that he would start "reaching out" to Couch to "engage him in deal negotiations."
— June 2007NBA commissioner David Stern was angry about comments by McClendon that appeared in an Oklahoma newspaper. McClendon, the billionaire founder and chief executive of Chesapeake Energy, told The Journal Record: "We didn't buy the team to keep it in Seattle; we hoped to come here."
Stern e-mailed Bennett that if McClendon really made that remark there would be a "HUGE fine." Stern later imposed a $250,000 fine on McClendon.
Bennett apologized in a lengthy e-mail to Stern, praising the NBA commissioner as "a role model and an extraordinarily gifted executive" and "just one of my favorite people on earth."
Bennett to Stern: "I would never breach your trust. As absolutely remarkable as it may seem, Aubrey and I have NEVER discussed moving the Sonics to Oklahoma City, nor have I discussed it with ANY other member of our ownership group."
— August 2007
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
UPDATE - 9:40 PM
Portland stops Orlando, which plays without suspended Dwight Howard
Seattle Times transportation reporter Mike Lindblom describes some of the factors that may have led to the collapse of the I-5 bridge over the Skagit River in Mount Vernon on Thursday, May 23.