SEATTLE — Once again, basketball fans in Seattle have been left feeling jilted.
Excitement that had been building for months over the possibility of the NBA’s return was quickly squashed Monday when the NBA’s relocation committee voted unanimously to recommend that owners reject the application for the Sacramento Kings to move to Seattle.
“When we first found the decision yesterday I was just shocked. I think I’m still somewhat in shock here, just the fact it was unanimous that it was just boom right there the Kings appear to be staying,” said Adam Brown, co-producer of the grassroots documentary “Sonicsgate: Requiem for a Team.” ”Just disbelief of how the NBA could turn down such a monstrous record-setting group in Seattle.”
It’s not entirely over for Seattle, although it seems unlikely the full Board of Governors would stray from the recommendation made by the relocation committee. But keeping that sliver of hope was the emphatic message from Chris Hansen late Monday night when the investor who spearheaded plans for a new arena in Seattle and the purchase of the Kings made his only comments since the relocation committee’s announcement.
Hansen said he plans to lobby the Board of Governors, which consists of all 30 owners, when it meets the week of May 13. The board is expected to vote on the issue and follow the committee’s recommendation — which NBA Commissioner David Stern also is supporting — during that meeting.
In his statement, Hansen used the word “transaction” four times and subtly tried to highlight what he sees as the faults in the bid by the Sacramento group aiming to keep the Kings.
“When we started this process everyone thought it was impossible,” Hansen wrote to Seattle fans on his website late Monday night, hours after the seven-person committee handed down its recommendation. “While this represents yet another obstacle to achieving our goal, I just wanted to reassure all of you that we have numerous options at our disposal and have absolutely no plans to give up. Impossible is nothing but a state of mind.”
Lobbying might prove a futile effort by Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who last week made a public comment about the attempt to purchase the Kings for the first time and seemed optimistic, saying, “We’ve got a great market. It seems like there will never be a better opportunity.”
The arrival of the Hansen-Ballmer group and the attempts to purchase the Kings and move them to Seattle began healing the wounds from five years ago when the SuperSonics were moved to Oklahoma City and became the Thunder.
Whether the market might have finally soured because of how the Kings saga has played out could be one of the biggest concerns going forward. Sports talk radio was flooded Tuesday with fans expressing their disappointment and anger toward the NBA, their feelings that Seattle was used as a pawn in the process. Some discussed farfetched scenarios that would somehow still land the Kings in Seattle for next season, however unlikely that outcome.
When Hansen first said he would try to get a new arena built in Seattle’s SoDo neighborhood and eventually bring back the SuperSonics, he repeatedly called for patience from fans anxious for pro basketball to return. Remaining confident in what Hansen is trying to accomplish and renewing that call for patience continued to be the refrain on Tuesday.
“It’s hard because we’ve worked really hard at Sonicsgate to not let that happen, to take all the apathy and toxic feelings there in 2008, and we wanted to make sure this is a basketball city first and foremost,” Brown said. “It’s something we’re going to have to continue to inspire people not to lose out hope.”