Glory comes with a price
Bennett is about to be dragged through mud

by Berry Tramel Published: November 3, 2007
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Clay Bennett has a chance to be a hero. Has a chance to walk into the Ford Center in the not-too-distant future, 19,000 homefolks strong chanting his name and singing his praises.

That sounds like the night of a lifetime and has to appeal to even a stoic like Bennett.

But before that glory gets here, before Bennett and his buddies are grand marshals of a Welcome-the-Sonics parade down Reno Avenue, there's a price to pay.

Bennett, the front man for the Oklahoma City businessmen who want to bring the NBA to their hometown, is about to be dragged through the mud in Seattle. And with all that rain, there's plenty of mud in Seattle.

Bennett announced Friday that he filed relocation papers with the NBA to move the Seattle SuperSonics to Oklahoma City. Will the Sonics arrive next season or 2010? To be determined.

But etch this in stone: Bennett is a dirty word in the Pacific Northwest.

Here are a few things Bennett has been called in public since becoming the Sonic owner a year ago.

"Duplicitous salesman. Truth-challenged. Artful Dodger. Thin-skinned.

"In the spotlight as graceful as Britney Spears dancing on MTV.”

Ouch, ouch, ouch, double-ouch and hitting below the belt. And all that came from just one Seattle wordsmith, Steve Kelley of the Times.

Sometimes, Bennett has company. The entire ownership group has been called robber barons, evil doers, fat-cat burglars, not-so-good ol' boys, Oklahoma City bullies, carpetbaggers, fat cats and suits from the South.

Bennett says he's been surprised at the venom tossed his way, but he shouldn't be. This is what happens when cities are threatened with losing their ballteams.

We can see that in Seattle's response the last couple of months. Seattle has gone on the attack, with the court case to keep the Sonics from arbitration over the KeyArena lease and constant and pointed remarks by city leaders that they will not stand idly by as the Sonics scoot out of town.

This is going to get nasty, and the best thing is to remember it's nothing personal. Nothing personal against Bennett, nothing personal against Oklahoma City, which will be on the receiving end of plenty of snide remarks coming from LatteTown.

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by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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