It is one of the black marks of David Stern’s approaching three decades as NBA Commissioner — not getting a new stadium built and watching a team bolting a good Seattle market for enthusiastic but smaller Oklahoma City. He and Howard Schultz (and so many more) were villains.
It’s one thing Stern would like to correct before he leaves, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports in his story about the remaining 15 months of Sterns tenure as NBA commissioner.
Between now and his departure, Stern is determined to get a franchise back into Seattle, league sources said, and has become a strong ally of Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer’s group to bring back the NBA there.
The problem is… what team? Stern wouldn’t rule out an expansion team when speaking after the Board of Governor’s meeting. But mostly he played dumb.
“I don’t have any current view on where such a team comes from,” Stern said. “We deal with a lot of cities. Seattle happens to be another great city…. But no, we think this it is a great development in Seattle. And we’re excited about it. But there is no current team in play and that’s going to be an issue for the owners have to consider.”
I say he was playing dumb because we all know there is one team he wants to see sold. Woj, take it away.
Ballmer’s group has been trying to get the Maloof family to sell the Sacramento Kings, so that the franchise can eventually play in a new arena in Seattle.
From the league office, pressure on the Maloofs to sell has been growing, sources said – just as hopes for a new Sacramento arena have been fading. Seattle Sonics fans will never forgive Stern for his complicit role in Clay Bennett’s deception to move that franchise to Oklahoma City, but make no mistake: Stern desperately wants to return the NBA to one of its great markets and wants it for his own measure of vindication before he leaves office.
The problem here is the Maloofs don’t want to sell. They might consider moving the team to Seattle if Balmer and developer Chris Hansen want to build them and arena where the Maloof family can come in and make their profits without the cash outlay. But nobody sane is going to do that. So it becomes about Stern twisting arms.
Sacramento is another good fan base, loyal people that have fought to keep their team in spite of owners trying to screw them. Moving the Kings to Seattle may fill one hole, but it creates another in Sterns legacy.