Divorce done, Seattle cruising for new NBA love Print
Written by Admin   
Thursday, 03 July 2008 14:10
NBA Headline News

 What a sweetheart: Clay Bennett left the SuperSonics name, championship banners and 41 years of memories behind, yet couldn't bring himself to part with even a few crocodile tears on his way out the door.
Too bad - since those would have been the most appropriate souvenir of all.
``There was just so much that happened on both sides,'' Bennett said after scooping up Seattle's NBA franchise and carrying it back to Oklahoma City, ``so much misinterpreted, miscommunicated and misunderstood that it was difficult.''
Please. Everybody knows that when marriages like the one between Seattle and its basketball team dissolve after 41 years, there's going to be hard feelings, especially because this one was so one-sided: All of the affection and most of the cash flowed in the same direction for years - from fans and city, county and state coffers into the team owner's pocket - and at some point, Bennett decided it still wasn't enough.
So after much legal wrangling, he picked up his franchise and went home. The same scenario has played out five times in the NBA over the last 25 years, and so maybe the only real surprise is how little time it took for Seattle to get over the separation.
The ink on the court settlement was barely dry before city and state legislators began scrambling to scrape together another $300 million or so in the next 18 months for the dubious privilege of tying the knot again. You'll recall NBA commissioner David Stern anguished long and loud in public when word of the widening rift between town and team leaked out. But he just happened to have both the dowry sum and deadline on the tip of his tongue the second the divorce became final.
Knowing government officials were already discussing a renovation of KeyArena, he told them the public funding had to be in place ``by the end of 2009 in order for there to be any chance for the NBA to return to Seattle within the next five years.''
owner were a civic obligation, but ballclubs always do.
Two years ago, Washington, D.C., couldn't find the cash to run an adequate bus service, but the city council was still willing to burden taxpayers with upward of $600 million to build a new baseball stadium for the Nationals. Fresh in the council's mind, no doubt, was the way a rundown corner of the city fairly bloomed after Washington Wizards owner Abe Pollin plunked down $200 million - of his own money, it should be noted - to erect a new arena for his NBA team.
But economists have shown over and over that taxpayer funding for stadiums is almost always a bad deal. For every success like the Verizon Center, there's a museum's worth of sporting temples built and maintained at public expense that won't pay for themselves for generations. Yet so strong is the prospect of a downtown parade even once each generation that sports league have played shell games with their franchises forever and there's no end to the number of towns lining up to get beat.
ls buy into the moneymaking scheme.
After nearly two decades of lousy baseball and ever lousier investing by the fans who supported the Rays, Tampa Bay finally has a team worth getting excited about. Here's hoping a few months that would crescendo with an hourlong parade downtown was worth the wait and all the fuss.
NBA fans in Seattle haven't had a championship since 1979, and only so many seasons worth celebrating since. So it's anyone's guess why Mayor Greg Nickels and his administration were so proud that they got - in addition to as much as $75 million - a binding agreement from Bennett to keep the SuperSonics' name, logo and colors in Seattle.
Go figure. He and his town already paid for them several times over. And for some reason, they apparently can't wait for the day when they'll get to do so again.
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Jim Litke is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at jlitkeap.org
 

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