Sonics | Late power play needs everyone's support
Imagine the NBA playoffs in, say, 2011. A seven-game series between the two big guns in the West. The Portland Trail Blazers playing the...
Seattle Times staff columnist
Sonics @ Toronto, 10 a.m., FSN, CBUT
Imagine the NBA playoffs in, say, 2011. A seven-game series between the two big guns in the West.
The Portland Trail Blazers playing the Seattle Sonics in the best-of-conference finals.
In those two weeks, just like the old days with Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp, the best basketball in the land would be played in the Northwest.
Portland's Brandon Roy, stopping and starting, finding crevices and angles like a new-age Oscar Robertson. Greg Oden, eating rebounds and finishing plays, like a young Shaquille O'Neal.
Seattle, countering with Kevin Durant and the open floor, Jeff Green on the low blocks and maybe Eric Gordon or Derrick Rose pushing the ball in transition.
It's a longshot, but it can happen. The game here ain't dead yet.
You know all those questions we have been asking for the past couple of years? Where is the leadership in Seattle? Where is the vision? Where are the moneyed people who share the same passion of basketball as the average Joe and Josephina who have supported the Sonics for 41 years?
At last we have answers, real answers, viable answers. And not surprisingly, the leadership and passion is coming from the most powerful and visionary people in the community.
Call them the Coalition of the Caring — Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Costco CEO Jim Sinegal, wireless mogul John Stanton and Seattle developer Matt Griffin — who have formed a group that's willing to purchase the Sonics, pay half of the $300 million needed to renovate KeyArena and keep the NBA in Seattle.
These four, who have impressive track records for doing good deeds in the community, have answered NBA commissioner David Stern's wrongheaded assumption that Seattle no longer cares about the NBA. They have made it clear that this city wants to continue to be a viable player in the NBA game.
These are accomplished men with clout, leaders who have found ways before to do the impossible. It is an impressive group, and one that NBA owners should enthusiastically welcome.
This is exactly the private commitment we've been looking for. Not the lame $18 million proposed by do-nothing former owner Howard Schultz. This is a substantial private commitment.
I believe this plan could have been done sooner, if Hasty Howard hadn't been so antsy to sell the team to an ownership group that had no intention of staying in Seattle.
This offer is so good, even the city seems ready to commit $75 million for KeyArena improvements.
Which brings us to the state legislature.
"They don't have a team," says Rep. Ross Hunter, D-Medina.
"I don't see any possible way we're going to get that much support for a bill that we haven't seen," says Rep. Jeff Morris, D-Sedro-Woolley.
Yo! Enough with the "nos" and the "can'ts." Instead of saying "no," how about showing some foresight? Instead of saying "we can't," how about finding a way to get this done?
This arena deal needs another $75 million from the state. And the money is there. I know there is less than a week left in the legislative session, but this deal could get done in a one-day special session.
Just say yes.
Gov. Christine Gregoire, quietly supportive of plans to keep the Sonics, needs to get very loud now. She needs to exert her influence and coerce legislators to work on this deal.
It isn't too late.
Stern is a smart man who understands how important a franchise in Seattle is to his plans to grow the game in Asia.
And, with small-market franchises sinking in Charlotte, Memphis and New Orleans, why would Stern want to trade Seattle for Oklahoma City? That trade makes no sense.
Sonics owner Clay Bennett repeatedly has said the Sonics aren't for sale. That doesn't mean a sensible deal can't be brokered that would give him one of the league's troubled franchises in exchange for selling the Sonics to these local owners. He may be more amenable to such a deal if, as expected, he loses the KeyArena lease case to the city.
Another, less palatable alternative, the city keeps the Sonics' nickname, Bennett moves to Oklahoma City and another franchise, probably Memphis, is sold to this new ownership group and moved to Seattle.
More than anything, Thursday's announced plan can take all of the acrimony out of the discussion. It shows Seattle wants the NBA and it implies that this new ownership group would be willing to work with Bennett and the league to find a deal that can work for everyone.
It is the first real tangible good news for local NBA fans in a long, long time.
Now, let's see some action from the legislature. Let's find out who the lawmakers with courage and creativity are. Let's find the politicians who aren't willing to take the easy way out by telling us their "shot clock" has expired.
Four men, with thick portfolios and clear vision, have presented a plan to keep the Sonics in Seattle. And imagine, late in a close Game 7, Roy drives hard to the basket and is met in midair by Durant. Think of the din inside KeyArena. Think of the Memorial Day swelter. Think how thrilling that possibility sounds.
Steve Kelley: 206-464-2176 or email@example.com
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UPDATE - 9:02 PM
Steve Kelley: What happened to the once-scary Huskies?
Sam and Sara Lucchese create handmade pasta out of their kitchen-garage adjacent to their Ballard home. Here, they illustrate the final steps in making pappardelle pasta.