As the clock ticks toward an NBA vote to relocate the SuperSonics to Oklahoma City — 48 hours and dwindling — the good citizens of Seattle are doing what every city does when facing a franchise exodus. Fighting back. Kicking and scratching and clawing. Marquess of Queensberry rules be damned. This is the corporate version of street fighting. And here's the latest. Mister Coffee wants his Sonics back. In a plot twist so peculiar you can look for it on Law & Order next season, Howard Schultz says he is filing a lawsuit to rescind the sale of the Sonics. The Starbucks czar jump-started the OKC express by selling the Sonics in July 2006 to Clay Bennett's Oklahoma City ownership group. Schultz's lawyer claims the recently-exposed emails between Bennett and his partners prove a breach of contract, arguing that Bennett committed fraud when he agreed to make a "good-faith effort” to spend a full year trying to get a new arena deal in Seattle. Truth is, Schultz is trying to save face more than save the Sonics. This seems like one more publicity stunt from Seattle, of which there have been plenty in recent months. When the smoke clears and the Sonics are in OKC, Puget Sound basketball fans will start focusing their disgust away from Beelzebub Bennett and to the home folks with blood on their hands. The government leaders, city and state, who derailed all of Bennett's ideas. The corporate community, including Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, one of those publicity stunters who this week was called out by NBA commissioner David Stern. Pointing the finger — a different finger — back at Seattle, Stern reminded the city that when Schultz offered the team for sale, no one from that corner of the country wanted the Sonics, including Ballmer, who staged a bid to buy the team from Bennett a few weeks ago, even though it wasn't for sale. And Schultz himself, who sold the team because of a stated exasperation with no arena progress. The first season Seattle goes through an NBA-less winter, Bennett's not going to be the only dirty word in Seattle. Schultz will be cast as the man who brought in the Okies and should have known they could pilfer the Sonics to two time zones away. Demonic status wouldn't be a blow to Schultz's Starbucks empire — he's got dazed customers addicted to paying $3.40 for cappuccino, not just in Seattle but across the globe, including The Oklahoman's very own sports staff — but it would be a blow to Schultz's social legacy. While Kevin Durant becomes an NBA all-star in OKC, Schultz would be a villain in his own city. Can anyone say, uncomfortable cocktail parties? Of course, this is America, and if something goes wrong, you sue, so maybe Schultz has a fighting chance in court. The legal people I talked to Tuesday called the case "peculiar” and "one of a kind.” It most definitely is Seattle's best idea from the let's-try-anything strategy of recent weeks. Ownership is at the crux of this whole matter. Whoever owns the Sonics owns the aces. Retrieve ownership, retrieve power. The Bennett boat has left the harbor. No way he's owning a team in Seattle now. The only way the Sonics stay is if someone else owns the team, and if Bennett's not selling, then this peculiar lawsuit is the best flare. Could Schultz win in court? I don't see how. The emails are embarrassing. When Bennett partners Aubrey McClendon and Tom Ward ask in April 2007 if there's any way the Sonics could move that summer, Bennett responds, "I am a man possessed! I will do everything I can...” Bennett will argue that the context is all wrong, that he still was talking about a Seattle arena deal, and nobody in Seattle will believe him, but I don't see him cracking on the witness stand. So while Schultz claims fraud, Bennett's actions will be impossible to ignore. Bennett spent millions of dollars on lobbyists and architects for an arena plan. And his lawyers will counter the emails with testimony from people like Washington Sen. Margarita Prentice (D-Renton). Prentice and Bennett put together a bill, approved by the state senate, that would create a funding plan for a new arena. But the bill never got out of House committee. "Clay Bennett went to great lengths to try to reach an agreement,” Prentice told The Oklahoman last summer. "And he agreed to a lot of things that he was never even given the chance to present to the legislature. He and I know that's true.” Hard to argue, then, that Bennett committed fraud by never intending to secure an arena deal. "I just think it's part of Seattle's elitist attitude that somehow or another we're too cool for sports,” Prentice said. "It's just never been allowed to get anywhere, and that's a darn shame.” The lawsuit could, of course, be a big thorn to Bennett's hopes of moving the Sonics. This lawsuit, the KeyArena lease suit in June, one major headache after another. Create enough potholes, the theory goes, and the road closes. As the clock ticks toward the New York vote Friday, that's Seattle's best hope. Only hope, really. Try to prove the sale a fraud. Get a judge to tie up ownership or get the NBA board of governors to abandon Stern and halt the vote and make everybody start over. Don't blame Seattle. These are big stakes and rare commodities. NBA franchises are hard to come by. When negotiations and dialogue don't work, you start kicking and screaming and scratching and clawing. And if such an effort saves only face for some of the people who created this mess in the first place, all the better for Mister Coffee.