Lauer Sounds Off: Seattle Still Deserves a Team

By Scott Lauer
January 10, 2013

Scott Lauer is the radio play-by-play voice of the Charlotte Bobcats. His column will appear on on Thursdays throughout the season. The opinions expressed here are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Bobcats organization.

The city of Seattle, WA, is likely going to get an NBA franchise back following a five-year absence. They deserve it. Myriad reports came out in the last 24 hours that the Maloof family, owners of the Sacramento Kings, is on the verge of selling its team to Chris Hansen, a Seattle native hedge fund manager, and Steve Ballmer, Chairman of Microsoft. The Kings would then relocate to Seattle for the upcoming season, playing for two years in Key Arena before moving into a half billion dollar new arena.

Seattle was home to the Sonics from 1967-2008, and it was regarded as one of the most passionate NBA markets in the country. Clay Bennett bought the Sonics on Halloween of 2006, and after failing to receive public finding, he moved the team for the 2008-09 season to his native state of Oklahoma. Hansen and Ballmer are putting up personal money to fund the contingent new arena; therein lies the difference.

The city celebrated a championship in 1979; in fact one of the key reserves on that team was former Bobcats Coach Paul Silas. Before that, Lenny Wilkens was featured on that team, and a decade after that title, a new Sonics era was ushered in with the combination of Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp. A few years later, they were an exciting outside shooting team displaying Rashard Lewis and Ray Allen. Just before they moved, Kevin Durant was a rookie with Seattle and the Sonics drafted Russell Westbrook while the team was literally in the process of moving to OKC.

The prospective new owners hope to revive the Sonics name and archives, and the “I-5” rivalry (Interstate 5) with the Portland Trail Blazers, separated by only 174 miles.

The city of Sacramento may indeed be losing the Kings if the Maloofs sell. They are reportedly being offered half a billion dollars to do so. Sacramento was an outstanding NBA city in the 1990’s in particular, and into the early 2000’s. With Chris Webber, Vlade Divac, Peja Stojakovic, Bobby Jackson and Jason Williams, they brought a high level of excitement to the city. However, their arena is outdated and fan support has waned with the team’s struggles in the decade since that team dissolved.

This would mark the second move in as many years for the league following the Nets move from NJ to Brooklyn this season. Of course, it would be the third move in five years, including the Sonics move to OKC, turning into the Thunder. Business people have to adjust with the times, and that’s why the transactions occurred. This one also makes sense. The city of Seattle would benefit from the deep bank accounts of a couple of gentleman seeking to bring the NBA back to a wonderful city in the Pacific Northwest.

Lauer Blog Archive:
12/27/12: Lauer Sounds Off: 9 Observations Heading Into New Year
12/20/12: Lauer Sounds Off: Kemba Deserves All-Star Consideration
12/13/12: Lauer Sounds Off: Biz a Big Matchup
11/29/12: Lauer Sounds Off: MKG Making a Positive Impact
11/15/12: Lauer Sounds Off: Good to See Cats Getting National Recognition
11/8/12: Lauer Sounds Off: Cats Have Options without Hendo
10/31/12: Lauer Sounds Off: NBA Predictions
10/25/12: Lauer Sounds Off: Kids Have a Blast at Cool School
10/18/12: Lauer Sounds Off: Thoughts Midway Through Preseason
10/11/12: Lauer Sounds Off: Bobcats Visit Charleston
10/4/12: Lauer Sounds Off: Thomas Stronger, Focused
9/27/12: Training Camp In Asheville!
9/20/12: Offseason Moves