Will Seattle Bid Adieu to the SuperSonics?
MICHELE NORRIS, host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.
ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
And I'm Robert Siegel.
Celebration in Oklahoma today, but they could be team-less in Seattle. NBA team owners have approved the Seattle SuperSonics' move to Oklahoma City. The Sonics owners want out of Seattle because they can't get enough public money to fund a new arena.
But, as NPR's Martin Kaste reports, there's reason to think the Sonics aren't going anywhere, at least not yet.
MARTIN KASTE: The vote allowing the move means that, as far as the NBA is concerned, the Seattle SuperSonics have already played their final game under the Space Needle. That game was last Sunday night, and as it ended, the crowd was chanting, save our Sonics.
(Soundbite of applause)
Unidentified Group: Save our Sonics.
(Soundbite of applause)
KASTE: But there's a growing feeling here that Sunday was not the last home game. Steve Pyeatt, a life long fan who founded an organization called, Save Our Sonics, says Oklahoma City is going to be disappointed.
Mr. STEVE PYEATT (Founder, Save Our Sonics): Well, they're looking forward to a team being there in November, they need to be looking for another team. And that's not smack talk, that's reality.
KASTE: Pyeatt points out that the Sonics still have two years left on their lease in the city-owned arena. And Seattle is suing to make them stay put. That trial doesn't start until June.
Mr. PYEATT: If you sit down and you play this whole thing out, and look at how long court cases take, you're going to realize this team is not moving anytime soon.
KASTE: Pyeatt also has high hopes for another potential lawsuit which would allege that the Oklahoma businessmen who bought the team in 2006 reneged on their contractual obligation to make a good faith effort to keep the team in Seattle.
Recently released e-mails now suggest that the Oklahoma owners were planning the move, even as they were still lobbying the Washington legislature for an expensive new arena near Seattle.
Mr. HENRY ABBOTT (ESPN Basketball Blogger, Truehoop): Oh, it's such a mess.
KASTE: Henry Abbott has been following the situation on his ESPN blog, TrueHoop. He says the Sonics fans have some reason for hope, but he says the NBA also has a powerful motive to make an example of a city where voters and politicians have shown such reluctance to pay for a new arena.
Mr. ABBOTT: I think they are willing to forsake one good market to really talk tough to every little local politician and everyone they see that might be getting ideas.
KASTE: The Sonics owners clearly mean to fight for their right to move. Their lawyers say they have documents showing that the city of Seattle has quote, "A Machiavellian Plan" unquote, to use legal wrangling and bad publicity to force the Oklahomans to give up the team.
And they're now asking the court to make those papers public. No matter what, there seemed to be a few more time-outs left in this game before fans here are finally forced to accept the reality of something called, "the Oklahoma SuperSonics."
KASTE: Martin Kaste, NPR News, Seattle.
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