Steve Kelley, who in a just world would have been dropped like Frank Mir by the Seattle Times in favor of signing free agent Art Thiel, got two minutes of David Stern's time, and apparently thinks he wasn't being paid lip service:
But in this briefest of interviews, when Stern could have walked past me as if I were a ghost, he didn't. His affection for Ballmer was obvious and his understanding of Seattle's place in his league's history is unquestionable.
Whatever. Stern says some nice things about Seattle that are all true - it was 'a great city' for the NBA, Bossman Ballmer would be a 'hell of an owner', it's 'an independent city' that may well boycott the thrown bone that is Portland playing an exhibition at the Key.
Stern is a self-serving shmuck.
And Kelley is no better.
He writes these 'graphs:
The level of disrespect he showed the city during the push and pull over the KeyArena lease agreement was insulting.
During that fight, he never acknowledged all of the good Seattle did for the league. Even as Seattle felt the heartbreak of losing its team, Stern never said he was sorry. Never thanked it for its 41 years of loyal support. Stern and Bennett became the nattering nabobs of NBA negativism.
Then spends the rest of the article with his nose in Stern's belly. Stern says that leaving Seattle was 'a failure of types', and that he thinks there'll be another team in Seattle someday over the rainbow, and apparently that's enough for Kelley to let Stern skate, as the article kidgloves along.
At least Kelley addresses one of the main points that might actually make Stern feel what he said about failure: the NBA is going broke [read this article, someone woke Simmons up]. The League is bleeding money like no other and is gonna draw back salary cap. And you know what didn't help? Moving a team in a relatively recession-proof top-20 city [remember, Seattle is the biggest U.S. city without an NBA team] to friggin' Oklahoma City. It was stupid financially at the time, it's really stupid post-econocrater.
The thing is, it's the first move Stern made that you could argue with in years. He stomped the players' union during the lockout, hugely internationalized the game, and is generally seen as the model league commish. And he'll roll once again in the 2011 lockout [seriously, read that Simmons column.] I have complete faith in him to keep the league alive. Which explains why the nepotistic decision to turn and smile as his buddy marched off into Mehville with one of the league's better franchises was inexcusable from pretty much any perspective, but only a few folks were peeved because hey, the League knows what it's doing.
Kelley could have taken Stern apart on the business side of the Sonics hijacking. I'm doing it now. He could have mentioned to Stern that Seattle fans hate him, since at least he recognizes we're still pissed. Instead, he asked what Seattle should do next. I give Stern credit for not snorting.
With a public-relations staff member tape-recording our brief interview, Stern was asked what he thought Seattle should do next.
Sure that PR person wasn't you, Steve?
The fans have it right; currently 61% hate David Stern. Hate's a strong word [peace to Wiley] but this city's love for the Sonics was strong. Really strong. And after reading this article a few times, the part that ticks me off most is the very first 'graph:
Judging by my e-mail, the acrimony hasn't died down. The anger the city of Seattle feels toward the NBA seems as hot as summer in this desert artificial oasis.
I dunno, maybe I'm a bloggy byproduct of my generation's tendency to take sides, to yell opinions. But for a guy who theoretically makes his living as an opinion columnist, Kelley has eff-all to say about Stern killing hoops in Seattle. He seems over it, and the column seems to say, 'Hey, it's not so bad.' Oh, but it is. It's gotta be really bad for a sports columnist. I'm just a fan and mentioning the NBA knots up my forehead. It's bad. It hurt then, it hurt to see coming, it hurt to watch the first few picks of the draft last month, and it all didn't need to happen. If you get two minutes with David Stern as a representative of Seattle [as one of the few columnists at its only paper, that's what Kelley is] you should try to get something out of him besides platitudes. And if that's all you get, you shouldn't spin it as if it means something.
Kelley ends by noting how Stern didn't walk past him 'as if he were a ghost'. Might as well have. If Stern knew how few Seattleites get halfway through Kelley's columns, he wouldn't have taken the time to BS him.