You knew things likely wouldn’t turn out good for the Sonics owners when city of Seattle attorneys sought to obtain e-mails from the ownership group. Well, sure enough, there were some pretty revealing things found in those exchanges, The Seattle Times is reporting. As it turns out, three of the team’s owners wanted to have the team play here this season, not 2008-09, not 2009-10, not 2010-11.
Here’s the e-mail exchange between team owners Tom Ward, Aubrey McClendon and Clay Bennett dated April 17-19, 2007….
Ward: “Is there any way to move here for next season or are we doomed to have another lame duck season in Seattle?”
Bennett: “I am a man possessed! Will do everything we can. Thanks for hanging with me boys, the game is getting started!”
Ward: “That’s the spirit!! I am willing to help any way I can to watch ball here next year”
McClendon: “Me too, thanks Clay!”
Also, The Seattle Times obtained a copy of an e-mail exchange between Bennett and NBA Commissioner David Stern dated August 18, 2007, a week after McClendon made his infamous “We didn’t buy the team to keep it in Seattle. We hoped to come here” statement. Bennett sent a lengthy e-mail to Stern numbering five points.
“1) As I told Joel on Monday night, without question the most troubling thing about the “Aubrey Episode” is that I am concerned that you feel that I have betrayed your trust. David you know how I feel about our relationship both personally and professional. You are among a very few, notwithstanding our relative brief actual physical time together that have significantly affected my life. I view you as a role model as an extraordinary gifted executive, a deep and compassionate thinker, and a person with a rare and unique charisma that brings out the best in everyone you touch. You are just one of my favorite people on earth and I so cherish our relationship Sonics business aside. I would never breach your trust. As absolutely remarkable as it may seem, Aubrey and I have NEVER discussed moving the Sonics to Oklahoma City, nor have I discussed it with ANY other member of our ownership group. I have been passionately committed to our process in Seattle, and have worked my ass off. The deal for me has NEVER changed: we will do all we can in the one year time frame (actually fifteen months) to affect the development of a successor venue to KeyArena, if we are unsuccessful at the end of the timeframe, October 31, 2007, we will then evaluate our options. I have never wavered and will not. Further I must say that when we bought the team I absolutely believed we would be successful in building a building.”
That was just the first bullet point. Again, he had four more in an awfully lengthy e-mail.
Stern replied: “You and I are fine. I have been acting on the premise that everything you say about Aubrey and your efforts is true–well before you said them. It pains me to see the situation you are in, and I have difficulty conjuring a happy ending in Seattle, but I appreciate your efforts and very greatly value our friendship. I have a meeting with the ref advisory board on Monday morning, which I will spend the day tomorrow preparing for but we should try to talk early in the week–so I can calm you down.”