Why he's fighting: Born in Brooklyn in 1953, Schultz grew up in a subsidized public housing project, sharing a bedroom with his brother and sister. On the playground, he was often team captain and ring leader. Schultz even led buddies on excursions to Yankees Stadium, buying bleacher tickets, then helping sneak everyone into expensive seats.
Sports paid Schultz's ticket out of Brooklyn. A football scholarship to Northern Michigan helped him become the first in his family to attend college. A few years after graduation, Schultz joined Starbucks as director of retail operations and marketing.
The rest is caramel macchiato history.
In growing Starbucks into a mega-brand, Schultz helped revitalize a city beat down by a Boeing exodus. Mr. Latte made his most high-dollar civic investment when he led a local group in buying the struggling Sonics in 2001. They promised to save basketball in Seattle but stumbled from the get-go. Schultz traded the popular Gary Payton, feuded with Rashard Lewis, then threatened to move the team when arena plans fell flat.
Schultz sought local buyers, even turning down big money from a San Jose investor, but ultimately sold to Bennett.
What he's defending: Even though Bennett said his group wanted to keep the Sonics in Seattle, Schultz has been grilled by fans and pundits. The new owners were viewed not only outsiders but also oilmen, not a welcome combo in the eco-friendly Northwest.
Schultz stayed largely silent about the sale, but then on April 22, he sued Bennett and his group. The lawsuit seeks to rescind the sale, depriving the group of "the fruits of its deception" and holding the team in trust until an "honest buyer" can be found.
Most legal experts contend the suit is a long shot, leading many to believe Schultz is trying to save face, not the Sonics. His good-guy reputation has taken a serious hit in Seattle.
Sonic sound bite: "I am filing this lawsuit because, having had direct interaction and communication with Clay Bennett during the weeks leading to our ownership group sale of the team, I was convinced that (his) group was the right choice based on both oral and written representations that they would keep the Sonics in Seattle. In light of recent evidence that has emerged, those representations apparently were untrue." — Schultz in an April 22 letter to members of his ownership group