SEATTLE – Seattle Times columnist Steve Kelley was nice enough to share his thoughts with me after the game on the state of the Sonics. If you aren’t familiar with his work by now, I suggest you read up on him. He’s outspoken and doesn’t sugarcoat anything. I’m talking about a guy who has ripped the Sonics organization (insert Clay Bennett here) so much that his own maintenance man fears being around him. True story. Here are his thoughts on the uncertainty of the Sonics….
On Clay Bennett
I think the one thing he did, and it’s what (Aubrey) McClendon did really, that woke everybody up. And it was almost like before he made those statements everybody was like leave, I don’t care. And that just fired everybody up. It fired the city council up. What I think is happening now, and who knows if it’s too late or not, the first thing is to keep them to their lease which gives them time. Get an arena deal done. One thing about him is he hasn’t negotiated ever. Just closed the doors and said we’re not coming out until we’ve got a deal. He hasn’t done that. He’s gone to the legislature. I don’t think he’s ever talked to the mayor. So forgetting that, I think there’s going to be an arena deal that’s exclusive of him. Once they get the arena deal done then all these fat cat owners will come forward and say we’re willing to buy the team. They’ll go got Stern and ask Stern to help. And then my guess is, if the arena deal’s in place and it’s palatable to the NBA, then Stern goes to Clay and says look I don’t want to lose
On mood of the fans
Two things. There’s one group of fans who’ve gotten to the point that they hate the NBA. But it’s the peripheral fan who thinks guys are selfish. Every city has them who think (players) are selfish, they’re spoiled, they’re making too much money, they’re shooting up strip clubs. There’s that group of fans, and some of them maybe were one time Sonics season ticket holders. But what I’ve noticed, again since McClendon said his stuff, the long term Sonics fans have said we want to keep this team and we’re going to fight for this team.
I think they’re resigned to the fact that this team is going to be really bad. This could be a 25-win season, if they’re lucky a 30-win season.
On the crowd
I didn’t think they were really into the game. I thought they were into the game when Durant had the ball. When they made that run in the fourth quarter when Durant hit those two shots, you’d think the place would be going crazy because that’s the way it normally is. It wasn’t very loud tonight. That’s the one thing I noticed. Fans weren’t really as fired up.
On the lack of protesting Thursday
I was surprised, because at the end of last year it was. I’m also surprised that it wasn’t more activity outside. I don’t think there was any.