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2001 Houston mayoral election

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Houston mayoral election, 2001

← 1999 November 6 and December 1, 2001 2003 →
 
Lee Brown.png
Orlando Sanchez, Harris County Treasurer, 2014 headshot (1).png
3x4.svg
Nominee Lee Brown Orlando Sanchez Chris Bell
First round vote 120,108 115,526 45,575
First round percentage 43% 41% 16%
Runoff vote 160,507 156,124
Runoff percentage 51% 49%

Mayor before election

Lee P. Brown
Democratic

Elected Mayor

Lee P. Brown
Democratic

The Houston Mayoral Election of 2001 took place on November 6, 2001. Incumbent Mayor Lee Brown was re-elected to a third term. Officially the race was non-partisan. None of the candidates received a majority of the votes, so a run-off election was held on December 1, 2001.

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As you know, in 2001, a group primarily made up of Seattle-based businessmen came together to establish the Basketball Club of Seattle. The ultimate goal has been, and continues to be, to preserve the future of professional basketball here in the Northwest region, and to do it in a way that, I think, reaffirms our commitment to our fans. Today, although this is extremely difficult, and, for me personally, disappointing, I'm really proud to be able to announce that after careful analysis of all the possible scenarios, the Basketball Club of Seattle has entered into an agreement with the Professional Basketball Club LLC to purchase the Seattle SuperSonics and the Seattle Storm. It is our desire to have the Sonics and the Storm remain in Seattle. The Sonics, Storm and Seattle are synonymous, and we have great respect for history. If a commitment for a new building is not realized then we will evaluate our options, which will include relocation. The Sonics have a valid lease with the City of Seattle through 2010, and we intend to enforce that lease. We've got a place and we've got the people, and we've got a much better city in which to play basketball. Senator Gorton and the Mayor are determined to exact whatever pound of flesh is possible here, and they will, and then the team will leave. This is about us! This is about Seattle! (Cheering) Yeah, Seattle! This is about making sure that the NBA and the nation know that they can't just take something from us and think we're gonna lie down. (Chanting) Save our Sonics! Save our Sonics! Save our Sonics! Save our Sonics! (Chanting continues) The year was 1962. People from around the globe gathered in Seattle for the World's Fair. In preparation for the event, the City built the iconic Space Needle and the Washington State Coliseum. Five years later, in 1967, the Coliseum welcomed Seattle's first professional sports team, the Seattle SuperSonics, its name inspired by Boeing's big new project - the Supersonic Transport. Two years later a Major League Baseball franchise - the Seattle Pilots - followed. The Pilots are perhaps most famous for being the only one-year team in Major League history. Upon completion of the team's maiden season, future MLB commissioner Bud Selig shipped them to Milwaukee, renaming the team the Brewers. Seattle had its first taste of betrayal. A lawyer named Slade Gorton didn't care for it, so he made his first foray into pro-sports power broking, leading a lawsuit against Major League Baseball for breach of contract. As a result of his victory, Seattle got a handful of cash and the promise of a new baseball team. But what about the Sonics? The team arrived in 1967, courtesy of Los Angeles businessman Sam Schulman. In 1970, Schulman signed 20-year-old Spencer Haywood, violating a League rule that players must be four years out of high school to be eligible. The NBA said the deal was void, so, with the backing of Schulman, Haywood took them to court. In fact, he took them all the way to the United States Supreme Court where he won a 7-2 landmark decision on anti-trust grounds. With a bona fide superstar in Haywood, and a future Hall-of-Famer named Lenny Wilkens, Schulman gradually built his team into a competitor. "Pro-sports are fun," Seattle decided. It wanted more. So in 1972, King County built the multi-purpose, weather-proof, gloriously sculpted King County Dome Stadium. Most people know it simply as the Kingdome. The new facility's first major tenant was the Seattle Seahawks. They were followed shortly by the long-promised expansion baseball franchise the Mariners. While these teams climbed towards mediocrity, the Sonics were the lords of the hardwood. In 1975, the team made its first playoffs, led by point guard Slick Watts and coached by the legendary Bill Russell. After a slow start, the 1977-78 Sonics established themselves as a juggernaut. Their line-up was stacked with NBA greats like... ..and returning coach Lenny Wilkens. The team made it to the NBA finals, where, despite taking a 3-2 lead, it lost to the Washington Bullets in a Game-7 heartbreaker at home. I'll never forget. I was working in Portland, but I came up for Game 7 of '78, when the Sonics lost at home to Washington. The mood in the city that night was like someone important had died, like your heart had been ripped out. When we lost Game 7 here... Had this incredible season... Arguably the greatest in-season turnaround in team-sports history. We lose Game 7 in Seattle, next day they had a parade scheduled. They said, "We love the team, we'll still do the parade." The following year, with the addition of Lonnie Shelton, the Sonics returned to the finals, this time disposing of the Washington Bullets in five games, to secure the city's first Major League sports title. (Commentator) Five, four, three, two, one! Let the celebration begin in Seattle! The champion in the NBA is the champion of the world. There's never been a deep feeling like this in this town, not with the Seahawks, not with the Mariners... Skipping school, coming down to the big rally... It was amazing to be part of that victory parade. Watching JJ and Gus Williams the Wizard, Dennis Johnson - it was really inspirational for me. Freddie Brown, Jack Sikma, Lenny Wilkens - they were guys that everybody in town knew. They didn't hide, you could say hi to them, you could talk to them. They were like our guys. Seattleites packed the downtown streets to celebrate. The Sonics led the NBA in attendance that season, and two years later, set a single-game attendance record in the Kingdome. Seeing an opportunity, billboard king Barry Ackerley purchased the team for 11 million dollars in 1983. The Sonics needed their own facility and moved back to the Coliseum in 1985. I got here in '87. Xavier McDaniel had been drafted in 1985, obviously trading for Tom Chambers was a huge acquisition. So you had Ellis, McDaniel and Chambers. Those three for a period, I believe, of two seasons scored 20 or better, which was phenomenal, but it wasn't enough to get the Sonics to that next level. Taking Shawn Kemp, a kid essentially right out of high school that they drafted, turned out to be a stroke of genius. In 1990, a couple of things fall their way, including a ping-pong ball or so. They get the second pick in the 1990 draft. The Sonics, I think, were lucky they did get the second pick, 'cause it turned out to be the playmaker Gary Payton, out of Oregon State. The basketball quality was the best it's ever been for a sustained period. From '93 to '98, the Sonics won over 60% of their games. I think our chemistry got like that because I knew if I'm running down the court and I did hear him say, "Glove!" or "Woo-hoo!" I would throw the ball up and he would go get it. That was just the chemistry that we had. The arrival of George Karl just added a tremendous amount of theater to the Sonics. I didn't know anything about him. He came in as a hothead coach, and, you know, I was a hothead basketball player, so we collided. Gary and I... For a year and a half, maybe two years, no one thought we were gonna make it, including me! George just told us, "Look, we gonna play trapping, "we gonna D, we gonna just play it. "You and Nate is gonna be the leaders of this team. "You guys go out there and you lead by example." I'd have fights on the bench. "You're not doing your job, I'll take him." It was a great defensive committed team. We were a very good regular-season team. We were the number-one team in the NBA at the time, the top seed. And it was just... I don't know what went wrong. Well... I mean, the year we lose to Denver was... You know, those last three games were pretty painful stuff. And then that summer was the most miserable summer. Shaking the ball, that really got me...really hot. I got that picture in my house in Oakland, where, you know... I hate it. I think that changed us right there. That changed all of us, I think it changed George and myself, it changed Shawn. I think we knew that we messed up. In 1995, the City renovated the Coliseum, renaming it KeyArena, and giving it the bells and whistles required by the NBA and its commissioner, David Stern. How does our KeyArena stack up and how do you like it so far? It's very special to me. I know what a struggle it was for the Sonics and the Ackerley family, who wanted to have this team playing in a beautiful building. They got that. It's intimate, the sight lines are great, the decorations are terrific. Seattle should be proud of what's going on here tonight. ♪ ..get severely mistreated ♪ Thinking you're about to take the SuperSonics out ♪ I don't think so, punk, not in our house ♪ It ain't that easy, G ♪ No, not in our house ♪ We ain't letting y'all sink no threes ♪ No, not in our house ♪ Don't even think about victories ♪ No... ♪ They retooled, they improved the ball club, and ended up winning 64 games. It was a terrific year for the Sonics. It was just the character of the team. It was the good young core - Gary Payton, Shawn Kemp - but it was also the great veterans - Detlef Schrempf, Sam Perkins... Hersey Hawkins was a terrific player. You had those types of people around the young guys. I think that's what made that a real special team. That was the hottest ticket in town. It was tough to get a ticket to KeyArena. Everybody was going, that's all you talked about. It was surreal, to the point where KeyArena was rocking all the time. If you'd been in that arena... Them fans were goin' crazy. They are the one who kept us in the game a lot of times. '96, those games with Utah... I mean, the town just stopped. We were all counting to 10 for Karl Malone, every time there was a free-throw line. "One, two, three..." (Cheering) (Commentator) Seven for the game. You just felt like we had this obligation. "If I scream loud enough Karl Malone will miss." It was always "us" - not just "our basketball team." We didn't do it, "we" did it. It was all of us. Unfortunately, they ran into the winningest team in the history of professional basketball, then and now, the Chicago Bulls, who won 72 games with a renewed Michael Jordan. After losing the first three games, the Sonics would win the next two, dominating games 4 and 5 in front of their home crowd. Shawn Kemp dunked a lot. If we'd have went out and played the way we played in game 4 and 5, we could have beat them. ♪ SuperSonics... ♪ (Music slows and stops) You know what the original sin was? The place where this all began was the signing of Jim Mcllvaine. Jim Mcllvaine is the apple in the Garden of Eden. We were faced with a decision in '96 after losing to the Bulls in the finals. "How do we try to get better?" Although the Bulls had fantastic wing players in Pippen and Jordan, we actually got hurt inside. In 1997, the Sonics' front office signed unproven center Jim Mcllvaine and his buzz cut to a $33 million contract, alienating Shawn Kemp, who had been lobbying for a new contract coming off an outstanding performance in the finals. You can't fault Mcllvaine for anything. They gave him the money, he took the money. I would have too. In spite of the big contract, I felt like people accepted me and embraced me, and wished that I did well for the team. It was a mistake. I own it, I regret it and it didn't work. But the rationale was we had to do something to give Shawn some support inside. I kinda say Shawn should have just overlooked that, just said, "I'm gonna get my money, I'm gonna prove to you..." We were all stars, we were gonna have to get it eventually. Hurt by the perceived dis, Kemp demanded a trade and the Sonics obliged, sending him to Cleveland in a three-team deal that brought Vin Baker to Seattle. I wasn't really upset about us losing, I was upset about breaking the team up. If he would have waited a little bit and we wouldn't have broke up, Seattle would have won a championship, but that's just the way things happen. After some initial success, Vin Baker grew increasingly lethargic, and the team slid into mediocrity. Coach George Karl began to publicly question the team's front office decisions. It went from that very popular team of the '90s, to George Karl coming to the end of his relationship with Wally Walker. The last year in Seattle was a nightmare. I found out of the Vin Baker trade two days before Wally talked to me about it. That's how bad the relationship had gotten. I was finding out information about my own team from other teams in the League. George wasn't so good at keeping a secret, so... I couldn't tell him what the final deal was gonna be until the deal was made. Wally was very secretive. The good part of Wally was he never messed with me basketball-wise, the bad part of Wally was I didn't think he involved us into helping him make better basketball decisions. He lost some confidences in key people, at the ownership level in particular. A year later, following a 61-win regular season and a second-round playoff loss, the Sonics chose not to renew Karl's contract. In the summer of 1998, a disagreement between the NBA Players Union and the owners over the issue of a salary cap, led the owners to declare a lockout. Predictably, this strike-shortened season turned off fans. Most teams, including the Sonics, saw their ticket sales and revenue plummet. The Sonics made one of their few good moves in this era by promoting assistant Nate McMillan, a.k.a. Mr. Sonic, to the head coaching job. Sonics owner Barry Ackerley had tired of running a basketball team, and put the franchise up for sale. Just as a baron of Seattle's booming tech industry had saved the Seahawks, Seattle's coffee king stepped in to buy the Sonics. Raised in a Brooklyn housing project, Howard Schultz went to Northern Michigan University on a football scholarship, then set out to pursue a career in business. He found his calling on a trip to Seattle when he encountered a little operation called Starbucks Coffee. He became their director of marketing, then decided he might as well buy them out and set up stores around the globe. It worked. With coffee conquered, Schultz set his sights on the NBA. The man who was used to commanding an army of baristas, now owned a business whose front-line employees made millions of dollars in guaranteed contracts, and had egos to match. ♪ Get that dough, hit that spot ♪ Toss it up, watch it drop ♪ Get, get, get, get ♪ Money, money... ♪ I think when the Ackerleys let the team go, that's when everything changed. When you get a great owner who knows what to do and who knows how to handle... uh... players and their situation, I think it changes a lot. Howard wanted to re-write the way business is done in the NBA, and quickly found out he was not gonna be able to. He tried to run a basketball team like his coffee business. Your coffee business can't be run like a basketball team. When he came in 2001, he had theories about what might work. But he did have a belief and a confidence in his ability to connect with the players. He felt he could motivate them in a way they didn't know they could be motivated. In his interactions with Gary Payton and Vin Baker, they just thought he was a joke. I think Schultz hurt his cause by his histrionics on the sidelines. Howard wore his emotions on his sleeve. He sat at mid-court, and when the team was going well... Oh, yeah! He was up there, pumping his fist. When they were going bad, he would slink further down in his seat and he'd pout. He was right across from the players, they saw all that. I wasn't worried about Schultz, over there pouting or crying or whatever he wanted to do. It didn't bother me. We're out here trying to win basketball games. One of the things that all pro-sports owners fail to realize is what an incredible energy suck owning a sports franchise is. When you come into the sports arena, you get criticized. And here was a successful businessman, the leader of Starbucks. I think the bloom came off in 2002, when Gary Payton held out of training camp. Howard took personal offense that Gary would do this. You're talking about a couple of lead dogs right there, obviously, in Howard Schultz and Gary Payton. Gary eventually showed up, but their relationship was broken. And I think Howard realized that this gig wasn't for him, because these people weren't doing what he wanted, when he wanted. And they weren't buying into him. It was unfortunate that the owner would allow himself to get at odds with a key player like that, an iconic player in the market. It doesn't reflect well to your audience, to your fans. I had been loyal to that team for 10, 11, 12 years. It really hurt me, so I felt like now was the time where it needed to be a change. I don't need to sit up here and get lied to, then make me look like the bad guy. I wasn't gonna take the fall for looking like the bad guy. At the 2003 trade deadline, the Sonics traded Gary Payton and Desmond Mason to the Milwaukee Bucks for Ray Allen, Flip Murray, and the pick that would become Luke Ridnour. I think the fans in Seattle really got punished for this, and then the team went down from there on. I think if I woulda stayed, it woulda been a little different. I have no argument with trading Gary Payton when you consider the players they got in return. They got the splendidly talented Ray Allen. It was the end of an era, it was very difficult making a trade for Gary Payton. He was an iconic figure here, and so... we knew there would be an adverse reaction, but we also thought it's very difficult to get a superstar player in their prime. But even with the young superstar in Ray Allen, the new-look Sonics failed to make the playoffs for the next two seasons. No one in the community felt a great bond with the Schultz-run Sonics. That was too bad. I didn't think the Sonics were a compelling product. At the end of the day, it was mismanaged. Their moves they made...took them from a great franchise to a terrible one. They have to deal with that. All that money we spent, and they kept trying to find the big guy. So they drafted Robert Swift, they drafted Petro, they drafted Sene. Uh, I mean, at one point we had 21 feet of useless center in Jerome James, Calvin Booth and Vitaly Potapenko. I'll never forget when Gary went to the Lakers. I did a story on him before he came back to Seattle for the first time. I said, "What are you gonna say to Howard when you see him?" He said, "I'm not gonna say anything to his punk ass." I think he was speaking for almost everybody who ever played for Howard. Man, I say this to people all the time, I tell 'em "It rains a lot, don't ever move here. It sucks." But Seattle is the best city in the world. I grew to love Seattle pretty quickly. I've lived in the Midwest my whole life. It's a great city, world-class city. People were really friendly to me. The physical beauty of it is unmatched. I still live here, probably live here forever. Seattle is a home away from home for us. My wife and daughter, we live in Portland so we drive back and forth to Seattle. We have tons of friends here. People ask me all the time, what was my favorite team. I always have a battle between LA and Seattle, but I think I have to choose Seattle. There are a lot of cities in our league that run into each other. If you were painting a picture it would just kinda bleed into one city. But Seattle on its own stands apart. I asked Jamal Crawford once why there were so many good young players, great players, playing in the NBA from the 206. He said, "It's simple. It rains a lot. There's nothing else to do but play hoops." I'm a big Sonics fan. I've always been a big Sonics fan. They helped mould me. I used to hang with Gary Payton, he took me under his wing, and Shawn Kemp, they took me under their wing to see how professionals acted, how they were in the community. I was like, "Wow, I wanna be like that." Watching them guys play and watching them up close helped me develop. What I witnessed as a child, watching the green and gold play, those are the things that change kids' lives. It changed my life. It's about the community and what the community has to offer to people there. The values, it seems to me, are more psychic than they are economic. My love of basketball wasn't born in an arena. It wasn't born because I was watching millionaires. It was born because my brother and I nailed a Folger's coffee can to a tree and played with a roll of tape. And my dad was out there teaching us how to make moves. It's fathers and sons, it's mothers and fathers and families going to games. It's talking about it. It's having a game in May that matters, the big game's on Friday and you can't wait, and you're talking to everybody. It's a chance for people to come together for 41 dates out of the year. And you have, I think, as good a mix of people as you can have at a professional basketball game, particularly in Seattle. A mix of old and young, rich and poor, black, white, Latino, Asian... It's just a real nice mix. Being an ethnic minority and a cultural minority and a racial minority, and often through most of my life feeling unappreciated and vilified, to watch the celebration of black men, who are among the most vilified people on the planet, to watch the celebration of them doing something better than anybody else in the world can do. Those are intangibles, you can't put a price on it, and you can't argue it to someone who doesn't understand. In February 2006, Seattle City Council President Nick Licata told Sports Illustrated that the Sonics economical and cultural value to Seattle was, quote, "close to zero". Frankly, I think Licata had issues with its blackness. Subconsciously, at least, uh... because his statement insulted thousands of black people in this community, whose primary eyewitness participation sport is basketball. So, frankly, what he said was racist. He later apologized, calling his remark "smug" and "wrong," but the damage had been done. The economic impact of the Sonics leaving, you can debate that with economists, and I think they'll point out that Seattle will still be a major city. You can debate that to doomsday. In 2004, Howard Schultz started making public comments about the inadequacies of KeyArena, complaining that its 58-person ownership group couldn't keep up with skyrocketing player salaries and competition from new arenas around the NBA. Despite the Sonics coming off an exciting playoff run, and a Northwest Division title in 2005, the city refused to renegotiate the team's lease. The Sonics' requests for facility upgrades fell on deaf ears at the State Legislature. In 1995, the Mariners had been around for 18 years, but had only two winning seasons. So Seattle wasn't exactly up in arms when the team suggested it would relocate unless it could get a new stadium. On September 19, 1995, King County voters rejected a 0.1% sales-tax proposal that would finance a new venue to keep the M's in Seattle. But a miraculous late-season playoff run led the region to fall in love with the Mariners. The State Legislature pushed through last-minute approval of a finance package enabling King County to build Safeco Field, a retractable-roof stadium with a half-a-billion-dollar price tag. Seahawks owner Ken Behring wanted his own stadium, too. He even packed the team up for a move to Los Angeles. Then, at the eleventh hour, Microsoft money man Paul Allen and King County executive Gary Locke engineered a solution with Allen buying the team and keeping it in Seattle. Allen funded a public election, in which King County approved the financing for a new multi-purpose stadium, Qwest Field, a $430 million open-air structure. Now that everybody was getting their own stadiums, it was time to blow up the Kingdome, memories and all. ♪ I'm on the dancefloor and the DJ dropped my 45 ♪ I was so hyped that I dropped my .45 ♪ And everybody just ran, ran, ran, ran ♪ I'm on the dancefloor and the DJ dropped my 45 ♪ I was so hyped that I dropped my .45 ♪ And everybody just danced, danced, danced, danced... ♪ With the Seahawks and Mariners thriving in their new stadiums, and the new NBA business model relying on revenue streams not available at KeyArena, the Sonics began losing money operating under their lease. On February 23rd, 2006, Sonics ownership returned to Olympia to lobby for a KeyArena remodel. This time with NBA commissioner David Stern by their side. We're here because we want to be here. We love the city, our families have been raised here. Our businesses have been built here. Everything about this ownership group, everything about the Seattle Storm, the Seattle SuperSonics, is Northwest, and we do not want to see that in any way go away. The NBA is very proud of the support that both the Sonics and the Storm have received from the Seattle community, the King County community and the State of Washington over the years. It is a source of great pride to us. In the late '70s the NBA needed a new image. Enter David Stern. A graduate of Columbia Law School, Stern came up as a lawyer for the League. By 1980, he was the executive vice president. In 1984, he was unanimously crowned king. The fourth commissioner in the history of the National Basketball Association. His tenure has included conspiracy theories surrounding the draft lottery, a referee corruption scandal, and a worldwide basketball boom, leading to record profits for owners and soaring player salaries. Commissioner Stern has presided over three franchise relocations. The Kansas City Kings to Sacramento, the Vancouver Grizzlies to Memphis and the Charlotte Hornets to New Orleans. His publicly subsidized arena campaigns are well known and usually accompanied by a threat to relocate the team to a city that will pay. I would say that a state-of-the-art facility is a great thing for a community to have. KeyArena is not a state-of-the-art facility. When KeyArena was redone, there were still problems with that arena, no question. Having been to every building in the NBA over two decades, I'd say it's relatively low, in the bottom five, in terms of fan experience. KeyArena is deficient in so many ways. The public likes to talk about it like it's a great building, but the original renovation was done on the cheap. Other buildings were built for $160 million, the same year we got a $70 million renovation. I think for the average fan it's great, it is a wonderful place to watch an event. But if you're an owner trying to make money there, it just doesn't work, the footprint is too small. We have had a very hard time economically. If we sold every ticket to every game, played at 100% capacity, we would still be below NBA average by a significant amount for the revenue generated by KeyArena. We have lost approximately $60 million in the short time that we have owned the team. This ownership group did not get involved to make a profit, but I can assure you, we did not get involved to lose $60 million, and with no light at the end of the tunnel either. Substantial amount of work has been done for the baseball and football teams, and I'm here personally to find out whether the same is being considered fairly for the NBA. If not, that's a decision we can accept, but then we'll have to act on it ourselves. After airballing yet another shot at state arena funding with little help from the city, Schultz's ownership group began a contentious exchange with the region's elected officials. The Schultz deals were about state subs... straight-out state subsidy. And those were... That's why those were such a non-starter. His largest private contribution that the team was willing to put up was 18 million, up front. At least 18 million, then rent to the city would have been another 30 million. So a figure minimum of about $50 million. They just orchestrated it terribly, they orchestrated it terribly. They flew in on their private jets and popped in for an hour. It's just so symbolic of the way this whole process has gone, where nobody laid the groundwork. When a team starts struggling, then you hear in the paper about our arena that could have been redone, revamped or whatever, for this great city, but you don't wanna help us by getting us a good basketball team. This team was so bad, and that's where I blame Wally Walker. He tore this team apart. It was so bad for so long. None of the legislators went to the games. They couldn't have named five guys on the Sonics. There was frustration with the political process, we didn't accomplish what we hoped to accomplish. Could we have accomplished it in another year in Olympia? Maybe. I never intended whatsoever to threaten anybody, or in any way create this tension that might exist. I was just trying to clarify that we're on a collision course with time. And we have no alternative on a go-forward basis if we can't solve the problem in front of us. On July 18th, 2006, Howard Schultz called a press conference to announce he was selling the Sonics to a group of Oklahoma businessmen. Today, we stand before you filled with both great emotion and renewed hope and enthusiasm for professional basketball in the Northwest region. Although this is extremely difficult, and, for me personally, disappointing, I'm really proud to be able to announce that after careful analysis of all the possible scenarios, the Basketball Club of Seattle has entered into an agreement with the Professional Basketball Club LLC to purchase the Seattle SuperSonics and the Seattle Storm. That day was the most insulting day in Seattle sports history. The team is sold to Oklahoma City, a press conference is called for 3 o'clock, we go over to the Furtado Center and there's balloons, it's a great celebration, a great day for Seattle basketball. Give me a break! I think Howard Schultz did not know what he was getting into, that the NBA is a costly game, as an owner. When you buy a team it gets a little bit different, especially a team with a lot of people. His board of trustees... My goodness, it was a football team. Not everybody on that board of trustees wanted to sell the team. There was a lot of dissent with what to do, who wanted to sell and who didn't. As it came to a vote as to whether the team should be sold or not... Very controversial and very close. It was a five-four vote, so as close as you can get, and... the five were in favor. As far back as 2004, when the Phoenix Suns were sold for $400 million, we heard rumors that Howard was done with the NBA and was looking for buyers, that 400 million was a heck of a price for the Suns and Schultz bought the Sonics in 2000 for 200 million. When you look at what these owners pay for the teams, and what they get when they sell, you can afford to lose several million dollars a year when your franchise goes up in value 3 or 4 million a year more than you're losing. At the end of the day, we were not trying to seek out...the ultimate purchase price, but to do everything we could to ensure long-term stability here in the Northwest for the Sonics and the Storm. The bottom line is...Howard Schultz made a killing in terms of selling that team. They were sold for way above market value, way above what he bought for them just a few years earlier. He, somewhere, is laughing on a beach, probably far away from Seattle, about how much money he actually made on that deal. We arrived at a place with a buyer who really wants to stay here. And we would not have sold it to a new owner who we felt was gonna take the team away. A number of people who were part of that ownership group will tell you that they really legitimately felt the hammer of Oklahoma City was the only shot we had at getting this done. Five years ago, when I sat here and was in a position to buy the team, I remember saying that I view this as my responsibility as part of the public trust... (Rewinds, slows) ..public trust... He talked a lot about being a steward of the public trust and of the institution, and I believed that. But coming from him I think it was just empty rhetoric. Coming from him, there is a lot of empty rhetoric. To me, if it is a public trust, he violated that public trust. I took that responsibility to heart and very, very seriously. And, culminating today, that responsibility is now passed on, to this group and to Clay Bennett. And I believe in my heart, as he has said to me and now to you, that he understands the public trust of Seattle in the Northwest, and he's gonna try and do everything he can to keep the team here. (Static, distortion) I had actually just spent a week in Salt Lake City going to Summer League - every fan's dream. There with the coaches, and the players and the media guys, getting to meet everybody, all the draft picks... It was just great. The day after I came home, they announced the team had been sold. And...uh... you know... everybody knew the Oklahoma thing. A big barrel of a man, Clay Bennett was born and raised in Oklahoma City, where his close-crop haircut remains forever in style. He married his high school sweetheart, Louise Gaylord, whose family owns The Daily Oklahoman newspaper. Bennett founded the private investment firm, Dorchester Capital, making millions investing his wife's family fortune. In the 1990s, Bennett became a minority owner of the San Antonio Spurs, and the team representative for the NBA's Board of Governors. In 2005, when Hurricane Katrina made it impossible for the Hornets to continue playing basketball in New Orleans, Bennett helped his old friend David Stern temporarily relocate the team to Oklahoma City for one and a half seasons. The minute Bennett bought the team, everybody assumed... I was not one of them, I was one of the, I guess, naive minorities that actually thought he would keep an NBA basketball team in Seattle, in the 13th largest market in the country. But nine out of ten people I talked to firmly believed that if an Oklahoma City businessman - with the kinds of resources he had at his disposal - was gonna buy an NBA team, it wasn't to keep it in Seattle. The financial backing came mainly from Bennett's high school buddy Aubrey McClendon, and McClendon's former business partner Tom Ward. Together, McClendon and Ward co-founded oil and gas company Chesapeake Energy. McClendon alone was worth $2.8 billion at the time of the Sonics sale. That's after he put up a quarter of a million into the right-wing PAC Swift Boat Veterans For Truth, and teamed up with Ward to donate over a million to Americans United To Preserve Marriage, an anti-gay rights group. I think you can appreciate the skepticism from the fan base and the press, and I wanted to ask Mr. Bennett about your fans back home. I was on one of your radio stations today, and the perception in Oklahoma City, not just in Seattle, is that the Sonics are coming to town. Ultimately we hope for basketball in Oklahoma City, but it's unrelated to this transaction. We are committing to a twelve-month process by which we will act in good faith and give our best efforts to develop a successor facility. I honestly believe that this group led by Clay wants to stay in Seattle, and I believe that they are better positioned than we are to convince the city, the state and obviously political leaders, that if they can't arrive at an acceptable deal, then unfortunately the team wouldn't stay here. And I just feel that coming in with a clean slate perhaps allows us a fresh perspective, and we can begin to work from a new start. As a whole, this region does not want to fund publicly financed stadiums and arenas. This region has proven that. So now, when the Sonics come around this third time, not only does the public say "We're not gonna vote for it," but a segment of the public gets proactive. In 1995, Nick Licata, who's a current Seattle City Council member, myself and a fellow named Mark Baerwaldt co-founded a group called Citizens For More Important Things, meaning exactly what it says, that we were for more important things than using taxpayer dollars to fund a stadium for an enterprise that was not only private, but in the headlines every day for paying millions of dollars for pitchers and third basemen. If they were paying that kind of money for their employees, obviously they didn't need taxpayer dollars. We had more important things that we were lobbying for. Backed by the SEIU, Citizens For More Important Things got Initiative 91 on Seattle's November 2006 ballot. I-91 would require that public investments in sports arenas produce a positive net return. Seattle voters passed it with more than 70% approval. When the city voted almost 70% against putting public funds into KeyArena, that, in itself, put the city in a difficult position, but also sent a message to all the elected leaders in the state, that this was not a popular issue with the voters. King County is desperate for money. They've kept their budgets 20-25%. Well, to pay for these stadiums, they laid on a full 1% of sales tax. That's huge! That is huge. And yet... the teams that occupy Qwest and Safeco... have...payrolls... that make me want to vomit. If they only knew, though, how many tax dollars are used for private business, incentive for private business, they'd be amazed. As if our whole capitalistic system isn't based on us subsidizing billionaires and millionaires. It's just a specific choice which billionaires and millionaires we're subsidizing. You had schools in Seattle that cannot pay for enough books to go around a class. That's why. Initiative 91 was pushed through. One of the problems with the initiative process is people don't have all the facts when they make decisions. Nobody stepped up politically against it. The city officials, everybody knew that in terms of policy, it was terrible policy. If we'd had a better discussion during the course of Initiative 91, it would have failed and we would be in a better situation today. That vote, I think, was crucial in coloring the NBA's belief about Seattle's interest in maintaining the team. It certainly alienated Bennett. So Bennett turned to Olympia. If Seattle couldn't fund his arena, maybe the state would. He and president Lenny Wilkens presented legislators with a proposal for a $500 million arena in the city of Renton, 24 miles southeast of downtown Seattle. It was a proposal to build the most expensive arena in the NBA at the worst traffic intersection in the state of Washington, right in the middle of the S-curves on 405 down by Renton. These guys weren't serious. They came in, the guy sat in my office, didn't say a word. They introduced themselves, the lobbyist talked to me. They made no significant effort to pass that bill. Nothing. The level of urgency and the pressure ratcheted up, because this guy had one foot in Oklahoma City and one in Seattle. If the legislature wasn't gonna help a local guy that many knew personally, and who probably contributed to their campaigns, why would they help a total stranger who they presumed automatically was gonna take the team out? Mahatma Gandhi could have asked for it, and he wouldn't have gotten it. The Kingdome was touted as a possible destination for the Democratic National Convention. 12 or 14 years later, when Clayton Bennett is sitting in front of them, testifying that, "Gee, if you'll build me my $500 million facility in Renton, "you could actually have the Democratic or Republican National Convention here." Everybody started to laugh! They all knew what the history was. We blew it up. We had it, we blew it up. Not surprisingly, Bennett's proposal got nowhere in Olympia. Meanwhile, the Sonics stumbled through a disastrous season, finding themselves in the draft lottery. We got that great shot, and got the second pick in the draft and Kevin Durant. We thought, when that happened, things would pick up in the market. With the second pick, the Seattle SuperSonics select Kevin Durant from the University of Texas. And, of course, it was never to be because, of course, at that time as well... Ray Allen was traded, and Rashard Lewis did not come back...so... certain things happened that year in that draft and...it was unfortunate. Shortly after the draft, Bennett's group quietly severed all ties with Sonics' past. Team president Lenny Wilkens resigned after disagreements with the ownership group, and assistant coaches, Jack Sikma and Detlef Schrempf, were let go as their contracts expired. These front office decisions reaffirmed what everyone already suspected - Bennett intended to gut the team, dump salary and prepare for a move. On August 12th, during an interview with Oklahoma City journalists, McClendon let slip the true intention of the PBC. Bennett emphatically denied McClendon's assertion and added that McClendon was not speaking on behalf of the ownership group. The NBA gave McClendon a $250,000 slap on the wrist. Unhappy with the state's failure to fund his new suburban basketball palace, and stuck in an arena that was losing money for both the team and the city, Bennett filed for arbitration to break the final two years of the KeyArena lease before the start of the 2007-2008 NBA season. KeyArena is not a viable NBA arena. A renovated KeyArena is not a viable NBA arena. I just went to the new Yankee Stadium about a week ago. And it's Disneyland. It's one and a half billion dollars, and they have numerous restaurants in there. All the food is really expensive, and all the beer is really expensive. That's what Clay Bennett, David Stern, wants to have in each city - arenas with a bunch of restaurants on the outside, because it means more money. The NBA model is now based on finding revenue streams beyond the mere tickets and even suites. They're looking for these giant megamalls where they're getting shopping revenue, and that model doesn't fit KeyArena, which was the essential problem. KeyArena, if you take a look at it... There's not many NBA arenas that are located in a neighborhood. It's in a neighborhood! That doesn't really happen. The Seattle Center is unique in the country in so many ways. One reason we moved here was that I could watch basketball and my wife could watch opera at the same place. I think basketball-wise it's a great arena to play in and to watch a game in, I don't think that was ever the issue. So, as a player, when the fans are in there, it's as good as any place. It's a little bit older now, but to me it was great. I love playing there, it feels like everybody is sitting on top of you. The key for us is that this building was built and designed for basketball. It has a great bowl, the geometry of the bowl for this facility is ideal. I like an arena to have a little bit of soul, and the KeyArena had some soul to it. That's part of the broken economic model, that you can't have an intimate setting. You have to have these huge buildings that bring in revenue besides tickets, where you can pop in these restaurants and sell, sell, sell. The franchise will not remain in this marketplace without a new arena facility. If we can reach an acceptable lease arrangement in a new arena facility, the Sonics and Storm are here for a very long time to come. If a commitment for a new building is not realized, then we will evaluate our options, which will include relocation. Because KeyArena is no longer a viable NBA forum, the city should not be able to force the Sonics to continue to play out the balance of the lease term. If I were the owner and the Speaker of the House told me what he told me, and the Mayor and City Council told me what they told me... The House said, "We're not even gonna report the bill out. "We're not gonna give the legislation an opportunity." So, I think it's unfair, the way it's been shifted back to us. We've had a team in Seattle for over 40 years, it's been a great city. I would like a relationship that was so strong within Seattle and the SuperSonics, continue free of the antipathy and downright hostility, that has been exhibited at certain levels of government. It seems almost tragic that as a matter of timing, the people who were in power turned against the team. If we took no for an answer, we wouldn't be here today. Born in Chicago, but raised in Seattle, Mayor Greg Nickels claims he can remember where he stood during the Sonics 1979 Championship Parade, when he was a legislative assistant to then City Council member Norm Rice. In the 1990s, Nickels moved on to the County Council and supported the push for a new Mariners stadium. He was elected Seattle's mayor in 2001. As mayor, he gained national stature for his stances on environmental issues, and generally had little to do with the Sonics. Until the team was about to leave town, that is. Then he became the last line of defense. On September 24th, 2007, the Nickels administration filed a lawsuit against the Sonics to block any attempt to break their KeyArena lease. Meanwhile, on the court, the Sonics sputtered out of the gate to a 3 and 15 start. The terrible on-court product did little to endear Seattle fans to the Okie owners, nor did it inspire them to support arena funding options. In order to get fans to pay these premium dollars, you've gotta have some kind of a goal, you've gotta have hope. There was no hope around the Sonics. It was like fighting against a hurricane. You hope the hurricane's not gonna blow your house down. But good luck with that. The moves that were being made, the trades, the shedding of salary, that last season they were just atrocious. It seemed like it was all part of a plan to make people not interested in the Sonics, not attend games. Players were off limits to a great degree to media. Media never got to know the young Kevin Durant and Jeff Green, they were completely kept at arm's length. Everything was so controlled. It was all to kind of turn us off, turn the city off. Their game plan was to get outta town and create as much ill will in the process as they could. If you had a playoff drive that year this building would have been packed. But no one wanted to go down and put money in Bennett's pockets knowing that he had no desire to stay here. I've said repeatedly what our intentions are... and that's what they are, it's to be successful here. When you aren't selling tickets actively, you aren't doing anything to promote, you won't let your players go on sports radio to talk about the team, you did everything but lock the doors to keep people out of this building, of course you're gonna get the perception there isn't any support. It was a very well done manipulation, and they took advantage of a lot of circumstances here to do so. There was a cloud over Seattle the last couple times I came back to Seattle. "What's going to happen?" Most of the time when you asked that question you didn't get a positive response, you got a negative response. It was surreal. It was a team living in denial. There was a lot of things we couldn't control as players, yet we're the ones to answer questions, 'cause we're the ones with cameras and microphones in our face. I think, overall, fans don't like to see teams move. I don't think David Stern likes it, I don't think anybody likes it, but it's part of a bigger business that a lot of people, including myself, don't understand. I can feel where the fans are coming from. As a fan growing up, if they said they gonna take the Wizards out of DC, and we wouldn't have a team any more I'd feel the same way. On January 8th, Bennett and the company sold the Sonics' sister franchise, the WNBA's Storm, to four Seattle-area women. It was great news for Storm fans, but just one more sign that the Sonics were as good as gone. The team responded with a 14-game losing streak. Oh! I mean, as I became more and more convinced they were gone, it made me want to be there even more, but, I mean, that was psychic pain. It was humiliation...and powerlessness. You sit there as a fan, you know, and you realize that... there is nothing I can do to change any of this. And that, no matter how much I love this team, how much pain I've gone through, there's nothing any of us can do. I wanted somebody to reach in and say, "OK, I got you, guys, we're not moving. "OK, NBA, grant these guys an Oklahoma team, "because they're ready for one, obviously, they got great fans, "but don't take ours, whatever you do!" But who knows? Maybe there's some last-minute wonderful angel who will drop into the laps of the people of Seattle and come up with an arena plan, and funding for it. If the law requires the Sonics to fill out that three-year term of the lease, I am convinced that well short of that period of time, we'd find a different solution. We'd find a willing new owner, we'd find someone who kept the Sonics here permanently. Good afternoon and welcome. There's been a lot of talk lately about the future of the KeyArena, and the Seattle SuperSonics, and their future here in our city. We're here today to shed some light on the issue, and bring some hope, as well, to the issue. I'd like to begin by confirming reports that were in the paper this morning, that there is in fact a new local group that is willing to work with us in securing the future of KeyArena and the Seattle SuperSonics. We sat in this room with Slade, Mike McGavick, Steve Ballmer and me on a Sunday morning in October, and ran through our thoughts of why we hoped Steve would consider it. A few months later he got back and said, "Yeah, and not only that but I'll put $150 million into this building." That was beyond our wildest dreams. The private investment group would provide $150 million to make improvements that directly benefit the team. Early on, we expected that our share might be $75 million. It's been in the last couple of weeks that we realized the importance of having this move forward this year, and basically doubled that to $150 million. The $150 million public investment would benefit the common areas of the building. The situation was very different from the Schultz situation, because we had Steve Ballmer, not only offering to purchase the team and to keep it here, but offering to pay half of the cost of the KeyArena remodel. Mr. Schultz and his group never made any such promise at all. This announcement, we think, is a game changer. Keep the team and improve the arena and Seattle Center and the whole place? I thought that was a bold move, in terms of helping Seattle Center, which does need serious upgrades. This is an opportunity for right now. This week and next week, not for next year. Why? Because next month the relocation committee of the National Basketball Association is going to vote on Clay Bennett's desire to move the team to Oklahoma City. Without an alternative from the City of Seattle, that relocation application is almost certain to be granted. Unringing that bell next year will be somewhere between very, very difficult and almost impossible. I want the ability with representatives of the city to go back to New York City and tell the NBA before they make this decision, "We've got a place and we've got the people, "and we've got a much better city in which to play basketball." But I can only do that if the legislature gives us this authorization now. As elected officials we run, not to duck from hard decisions, but to make hard decisions. Is this a hard decision? Yes. But I think we made it a lot easier today. (♪ Hip-hop) The group started really just in the days immediately after the sale. I had been approached months earlier by Steve Pyeatt, who is the co-founder of Save Our Sonics. Four days after the sale was announced we had volunteers passing out flyers and T-shirts. We felt we had to do something, so sent out emails, got on the phone, got on radio, and at about 15 hours' notice we got 300 people to pack up from Seattle, drive down and hit the steps of Olympia. Save our Sonics! Save our Sonics! These were just sincere Sonics fans that came down there, packed the steps. They chanted "Save our Sonics" so loud it echoed off the Governor's mansion. Save our Sonics! Save our Sonics! Despite the efforts of loyal Sonics fans and the generous Ballmer arena deal, there was still not enough support to convince Olympia to act. I understand how passionate Sonics fans are. I've known that all along, I'm a Sonics fan myself. I understand how passionate taxpayers are, I've heard from them loud and clear. A lot of people wrote to their legislators and said, "No money for professional sports teams." There was such a tremendous burnout on this issue, in the way it developed with the team going back year after year to Olympia, and people had heard it before, they'd heard about the team gonna move, and they'd heard about this, that... people didn't wanna be associated with this issue. I thought the Ballmer group was proving the ways in which professional sports ownership can be integral and important parts and passionate members of the community, and it was ignored. I think it's unconscionable that it never came to a vote in Olympia. Chopp, Chopp, Chopp - you're done in my book, buddy! Long-time devotee of the mustache, Frank Chopp has been the Speaker of the House since 2002. In that time, he's overseen the growth of his Democratic majority and earned a reputation for maintaining discipline over his delegation. If you want legislation passed in Olympia, you have to get the Chopper on board. Frank Chopp actually runs the state. A lot of people think our elected Governor runs the state, but that was abdicated to Frank Chopp long ago. He is the gatekeeper. Nothing was gonna be voted on or passed in the legislature without his approval, and he didn't approve. At the end of the day, the Speaker of the House, Frank Chopp, didn't want to have a vote. I called Governor Christine Gregoire's office to find out if lawmakers might be called back to the capital for a special session to approve the plan. A spokesman told me - quote - "No." This is a truly missed opportunity for our city, the region, the state and the NBA. I'm disappointed to announce today that we're unable to meet the April 10th deadline for securing the full public investment in KeyArena. Seattle has been home to the NBA for more than 40 years, and I'm committed to working as hard as I can to see that tradition continue long into the future. To use that old cliché, it ain't over till it's over. We have a court date in June. We have a court date in June. We have a court date in June. We have a lease that calls for the team to play another two seasons in KeyArena. Oklahoma City got right up into Seattle's face today. Oklahomans announced their city has a lease agreement to bring the Sonics there. Seattle is still suing to make sure the team lives up to their lease agreement here, but that's not stopping Clay Bennett and his gang. Could it be the smoking gun that helps keep the Sonics in Seattle? Emails last April between Clay Bennett and the team's other co-owners suggest that the plan was to move the team to Oklahoma all along. Tom Ward starts the conversation with the query, "Is there any way to move here for the next season, "or are we doomed to have another lame duck season in Seattle?" Clay Bennett responds, "I am a man possessed, I will do everything we can. "Thanks for hanging with me, boys, the game is getting started." Finally, Aubrey McClendon signals his approval. "That's the spirit! "I'm willing to help any way I can to watch ball here next year." In case you missed it, they were looking to move the team to Oklahoma City. Those emails showed pretty conclusively that they're liars. And...to an offensive level. I clearly recall that email exchange. My absolute feeling and notion in that email is, "I'm a man possessed, "I am only beginning, I will do everything I can to get this done... "in Seattle." There's been an enormous misunderstanding of that, misrepresentation of that, it's been misconstrued, I'm not sure which. But I was speaking about my commitment to a process in Seattle. There's absolutely no way that refers to staying in Seattle, it was clearly referring to staying in Oklahoma City. Anyone who reads those emails sees that clearly. Three or four days after Mr. Bennett wrote that email he was consulting with the NBA to figure out a way to get out of the lease. Mr. Bennett was clearly a man possessed to bring the franchise to his home town. First of all, look at the group - a group of Oklahoma City businessmen. They decided not to allow any Seattle partners in their group when they purchased the team, although there were willing Seattle partners. There was an Oklahoma City group that we were talking to through the sale process. Clay Bennett was not a part of it. It was run by a guy named Ed Evans. I was approached by the sellers' representatives of the Sonics and the Storm, and asked if we would be interested in pursuing an opportunity here. When he said to us, "I think it's a great market. "I'm gonna keep the team in Seattle," we believed him. We had people who knew him, he had some history here, and it made sense. We've made a commitment to the NBA and we are making a commitment to Seattle, to the Washington area, to do everything in our power to keep this franchise in this city and in this area. We're doing late-night phone calls, all of a sudden Clay Bennett's on the conference call. "Where'd he come from?" So it came up at the very end that he was involved at all. And no one had ever shaken his hand at that point. He pulled out at the behest of Clay Bennett. While the Professional Basketball Club's emails were of the rah-rah variety, Bennett and Commissioner Stern were busy corresponding on a more heartfelt, deeply personal level. Stern to Bennett: "It pains me to see the situation you are in "and I have difficulty conjuring a happy ending in Seattle, "but I appreciate your efforts, and very greatly value our friendship." Bennett to Stern: "You know how I feel about our relationship "both personally and professionally. "I view you as a role model and as an extraordinarily gifted executive, "a deep and compassionate thinker. "You are just one of my favorite people on earth, "and I so cherish our relationship." I think it showed that there was a relationship between those two men that may have been closer than Stern had with other owners. I thought it was fucked up, to be honest with you! (Laughs) Those two guys were joined at the hip, Clay Bennett worshiped David Stern and followed him around like a puppy, trying to do anything to get in his good graces. Those emails... um... they show a level of deception and just dishonesty and bad faith that to me... I hope they haunt those guys for their career. On the same day these emails leaked, Governor Christine Gregoire made a campaign stop in Seattle. The event was well attended by an unexpected constituency - Sonics fans. (Girl) Save our Sonics! (Cheering) (Crowd) Save our Sonics! Save our Sonics! (Cheering) (Loud cheering) The team's impending move was now a campaign issue, but as campaign season was gearing up, the NBA season was winding down. The team had lost 18 of 20 on their way to a franchise-worst 20 and 62 record. If it was the Sonics last game in Seattle, they put on a heck of a show. Sonics really feeding off the fans tonight. Kevin Durant breaks free and throws one down for the crowd. (Crowd) Save our Sonics! Save our Sonics! (Chanting continues) It would be a shame if this is it, because this is a great place to play. I almost cried, to be honest with you. People are saying this might be the last game in Seattle. You know, the fans came out tonight. (Newsreader) Gary Payton was in the house to show his support, and the fans gave him the love right on back. Knowing it might be the last time that team played there, it was a different feeling for me. I didn't want it to happen. That's why I was there. (Chanting) The whole game I just kept thinking, "You're way too late. "This is way too late." "Pitiful cries to a disinterested God." That's what I kept thinking. (Crowd) Save our Sonics! Save our Sonics! It's hard for me to understand why the NBA ownership would want to leave a market that they've been in for 41 years. The economics of team ownership at the present time, except in very unusual circumstances, require some kind of public assistance. The NBA makes plenty of money to build arenas. Plenty of money! There's a ton of money in that game. They could fund their own arenas. It's the NBA that is insisting on a second-tier city business model, taking the second-tier cities or third-tier cities, pitting them financially, one against the other. There's no reason to have cities pay for these. Except that now you're in this competitive world where if you want a team, the NBA squeezes the city and says, "If you want a team, you gotta pay for it." It's terrible. You know, we had successful votes in San Antonio, Houston, we have Oklahoma City, Orlando, I mean, there's been a string. Usually with the support, rather than the opposition, of the city leaders. That wasn't to be in Seattle. They're on this cycle where they keep inflating, inflating, inflating. And it's gonna crash. The problem with this issue is that it is a national issue... fought locally. Billions and billions and billions of dollars, in our opinion, have been wasted on these facilities. I think we ought to be able to do it, have the NBA exist on its own without being subsidized. I think it would work. On the New York Times front page I was quoted calling these folks "worse than a neighborhood crack dealer," and I truly think they are. Not because sports is a bad thing, not because the Sonics are a bad thing, but because you've got some financial wizards, who just got their hooks in there. According to the KeyArena lease, the Sonics are supposed to play here another two seasons, but the ownership group has already said it wants to move to Oklahoma City. Later this week, the NBA will vote on the matter. As the NBA's Board of Governors gathers to vote on allowing the franchise to move, former owner Howard Schultz is preparing a lawsuit to regain the team. Schultz, after being bashed in the local press for selling the team to Bennett, shocked everyone by announcing he would sue Bennett and the PBC for breach of contract. Schultz claimed the leaked emails proved Bennett never intended to keep the team here, thus violating the condition of the sale requiring him to make a good-faith effort to keep the team in Seattle. Legal scholars were split on whether it was... had any sort of chance or not. I don't know if it had a chance in succeeding. I never would have said this before I looked over what Schultz and Yarmuth have done, but I think they have a better than 50% chance of success. The Schultz lawsuit will be going on the theory that they were misrepresented. Those emails tend to substantiate that the current owners had no intention of keeping the team in the Seattle region. The lawsuit, coupled with the city and Mayor Nickels' staunch determination to hold the team to their lease, finally gave Sonics fans a reason to hope. Seattle's mayor released a statement today effectively high-fiving this legal challenge. Greg Nickels also applauded the Governor. While they wouldn't offer money to keep the Sonics in town, state leaders wrote to the NBA asking that the team be prevented from leaving. Unfazed, David Stern and the NBA's Board of Governors met as planned in New York. (Reporter) Save Our Sonics leader Brian Robinson kept a lonely Sonics vigil outside the hotel where the owners met. I would stand in the middle of the street in my Sonics jacket and gear, and I would force them to walk around me and try to make eye contact. I didn't say any words, I just made them walk around me. You could tell they were bothered by this. This wasn't an easy deal for them. (Reporter) The vote: 28 to 2. Blazers owner Paul Allen and Mavericks owner Mark Cuban were the only ones against it. I just want to say on behalf of our ownership group, how honored we are with the vote of the Board of Governors, and the support of our application to relocate. Do you feel like you genuinely have negotiated in good faith to do all you possibly can to not relocate? No question about it, no question about it. I think about it all the time. We could not engender the leadership of the marketplace to support the development of a new building. There was the press conference afterwards, and none of the owners would talk to us beforehand about what happened inside these closed-door meetings. Let's settle it once and for all with KeyArena. There is a $300 million proposal out there. Is that something that could solve the problem? There's no proposal out there right now. I don't think you would mean to misrepresent that to me, would you? When I went into this room, I wasn't planning on having any sort of adversarial or confrontational questioning with David Stern. I thought they were questions that a lot of people had wanted answered for several months. The city of Seattle believes that this $300 million KeyArena proposal, if it was funded, would be good enough to house an NBA team going forward. Would KeyArena, if that proposal ever finds the funding, it's been talked about for several years, but would it be viable for an NBA... I'm not going to talk about how many angels you can fit upon the head of a pin. That is a perpetual subject that gets discussed and discussed and discussed. And nothing ever gets done, and hasn't been done. Over the last week, several emails have come out, including a lengthy exchange between you and Mr. Bennett, and emails between Mr. Bennett and his fellow owners. Have you had a chance to read those yet? My response, as I've been reminded, wasn't lengthy at all, so... Have you read through those emails, especially those between Mr. Bennett and the other owners? Live or not, I don't like to be interrupted, and I'm not going to interrupt you. Why don't we just go to the next question? He was representing certain economic interests that exist in that room, and the owners wanting to move... If you're stuck in one city the value of your team is less than if you can move to another city. I'm trying hard to, on the one hand, not close the door, but I'm giving this press conference in the face of... a...scorched-earth policy, that has been announced by the former senator who's leading the charge. I think that Senator Gorton and the Mayor are determined to exact whatever pound of flesh is possible here. And they will, and then the team will leave. I think the NBA has to make an example of a couple of teams every now and then. And I think we were the example. They have to move a team, so that they have a credible threat against other cities. You said Seattle was a great city with great fans, but if even great cities with great fans can lose their long-time team, what does that say to other cities? Well, I guess... I guess... since most of our cities have... or the great majority have state-of-the-art facilities... uh... that enable their teams to compete in our league... uh, I think it says "Congratulations" to them. As difficult as this is for Seattle, and I know it is, as a sports fan it's very difficult, and I appreciate the history and the fans and the people connected, but, uh, decisions have now been made and the path is clear as to what's gonna take place in the next two years. And we have to move on. I want to be very clear that today's vote by the NBA Board of Governors does not change our efforts to keep the Sonics' home here at KeyArena. We're gonna go and we're gonna fight our case in federal court in June. We think we've got a strong case. And if we're successful in that, we think that gives us a couple of seasons to find answers to these questions. The NBA had officially approved relocation, but there was still the small matter of the lease, which required the Sonics to play two more years at KeyArena. This one was headed where so many disputes end up - the courtroom. It was time for both sides to lawyer up. The city was putting money... investing in KeyArena, for basically one tenant - the Seattle SuperSonics, so it was important to the city to get a specific performance lease. If you looked at the lease and read it, there is a specific clause that says the Sonics would play all 41 of their home games at KeyArena for 15 years, and that the lease itself could be what's called "specifically performed," which means that a court would have the power to order the parties to perform their obligations under the lease. This is not a shopping mall, this is not like a Gap that can be replaced by a Banana Republic or some other store. This was a stadium that the city and the people had invested in specifically for a basketball team. This move by Clay Bennett was totally for his monetary benefit. As in any long-term business relationship, and, quite frankly, as in any marriage, the parties start out with the greatest of expectations, but things changed. Over the 13 years that the Sonics had operated at KeyArena under this lease, the world had changed around them. The economics of professional basketball had changed. The competitiveness of KeyArena as a sports venue had changed. Mr. Bennett knew the terms of the KeyArena lease when he bought the team from Howard Schultz. The terms of the lease did not change. This was a big trial in a very dramatic fashion. The city called as its first witness the Mayor of the City of Seattle. How often does that happen? What they hadn't counted on was that he became a vehicle for us, to immediately introduce into the case... all of the themes that were the cornerstones of the defense's case. I was immediately able to get the Mayor to admit that the relationship no longer worked. It had become economically dysfunctional. The city was losing money, the team was losing money. The relationship doesn't work anymore. He's running a city, he doesn't have the luxury of being able to spend days preparing for his testimony, so a couple of times he was tripped up on things he had said in his deposition, that were, I don't think, substantively very different. We came up on a recess and I'm thinking, "I think this is going OK, but I'm not that certain." And during the break, I was able to go into the witness room, log on to the blogs and read what the press and the bloggers were saying, about how the Mayor was getting diced up pretty good in there. On trial, with a good lawyer like Brad Keller cross-examining you, is everyone's nightmare. A good lawyer can make Mother Teresa look bad if they have the right information. Greg Nickels said in the trial... he was asked by Keller, "Why do you want to keep the Sonics in a broken, dysfunctional relationship?" He said, "Something might happen." (Cheering) - Super! - Sonics! - Super! - Sonics! Save our Sonics! - Super! - Sonics! - Super! - Sonics! Save our Sonics! Save our Sonics! Save our Sonics! Save our Sonics! (Man on megaphone) When I say "Gary" you say "Payton". - Gary! - Payton! - Gary! - Payton! (Chanting continues) (Cheering) (Loud cheering) (Cheering) (Chanting continues) (Running footsteps) (Crowd) Weasel! Weasel! Weasel! Weasel! Weasel! Weasel! (Panting) (Cameraman) Keep the team here! Keep the team here! Keep the team here! Save our Sonics! Save our Sonics! Keep the team here! You hear me, Bennett? (Cameraman) Nice work! He is a sophisticated business person, who understands what he's doing when he signs a contract. He signed a deal and he can't get out of it a year later, for problems that he knew existed at the time he signed them. If anyone bothered to read the testimony of Clay Bennett, they would have seen it was very damaging. Clay Bennett was absolutely adamant from the very beginning that his "man possessed" email was referring to how he was not gonna give up trying to get approval for a new arena in Renton or in the Seattle area. I don't think there's any doubt about what his intent was. His intent was to get a team to Oklahoma City. Even sitting in the courtroom looking over at Clay Bennett, I couldn't muster up a hard-on of hate for him. Number one, he's so pathetic-looking. When I learn more about him... He really lives off his wife's family's money. The city called acclaimed author and Sonics season ticket holder, Sherman Alexie, to testify on the value of pro-basketball. That was our primary means of communication. Emotionally, physically, athletically, spiritually, everything had to do somewhat with basketball. So nearly every single conversation we ever had was related to basketball. It was our way of talking about anything. It was also our surrogate. We could say "I love you" because we were talking about Magic Johnson. Day after day, week after week, year after year, the way in which my friends and I related to each other emotionally almost entirely through basketball. Everything we cared about, loved, was filtered through the lens of basketball. I was talking about thousands of years of human appreciation of extraordinary physical ability, and that's part of why we love it. I thought the trial was a tremendous embarrassment for the NBA. For God's sake, they had the owner of the NBA team, call as a witness one of the nation's fiercest anti-sports critics, to testify that the NBA brought no value whatsoever to the city. It's totally contrary to what the NBA tells all the communities throughout the nation that have teams or that are trying to get teams. To a fan, it has value. To someone who's worried about social services drying up in our community, and they're not a fan, it doesn't have any value. The Sonics have value, they're worth...hundreds of millions, because of 41 years of fans. How do you measure that? As the trial came to a close, Keller would make the case that the city colluded with Gorton and Ballmer to bleed the team and force them to sell. You have to have clean hands. You have to be above reproach. Otherwise it would be potentially unfair for you to get the relief you're asking. The "unclean hands" argument was that this was a big conspiracy to cost the Sonics money. It was not. It was a concerted effort to try to keep them here. What the "Poisoned Well" memo did was, quite graphically... lay out what was a fairly Machiavellian strategy that was being orchestrated by Slade Gorton and Steve Ballmer's lieutenants, and Wally Walker, to use the lawsuit to try and bleed the Oklahoma ownership group to death, by making it lose money, embarrassing it in a public forum, and making it so uncomfortable that they would throw up their hands, and say, "We give up, we'll sell out." "Poisoned well." Those were Bennett's own words. They were in the PowerPoint which Mike McGavick had drafted, because Clay Bennett himself said "the well is poisoned for me in Seattle." (Reporter) Walker refused to admit he put together a scorched-earth plan. It's absolutely ludicrous. Clay Bennett needs to keep the team here. I hope he makes a ton of money, but keep them here. We thought it could be a good deal for him. Get local ownership to take you out of an untenable and expensive situation. You're losing money, so... why not consider it? We couldn't force him to do anything. Ballmer wasn't trying to do anything but do good for the community by coming in and putting a lot of money... much more money than Clay Bennett ever was willing to commit, much more than Howard Schultz was willing to commit, to try to save the team, so the whole demonization of Steve Ballmer was a total fiction in Brad Keller and his team's mind. I actually came up with the idea of having the diagram that was gonna pictorially display Slade Gorton's brain and putting a line down the middle of it, and having the right hemisphere represent the city, the left hemisphere representing the Ballmer group, just to point out the absurdity of the city's argument that the right side of his brain didn't know what the left side was doing. Clay Bennett's attorneys were far better. And I don't cover a lot of federal trials, and a lot of the reporters there don't cover federal trials, but the mood in the room with all the reporters was that the city of Seattle was getting schooled. That was theatrics, that was playing to the media. When people feel like maybe they're losing, a common thing they do is say, "Oh. The lawyer on the other side is being theatrical." I take that as a compliment. While Bennett and Keller's courtroom demeanor, and their questions and the drama were really impressive, on a legal basis they didn't have much case. They were reliant on the fact that the Mayor hadn't been to a basketball game. Who cares? The media is not the decision-maker; it's the judge. We were gonna win this case by convincing Judge Pechman that the Sonics are a unique tenant and the city is entitled to specific performance. What had happened here was you had a relationship that had become dysfunctional, both economically and on an inter-organizational level, and you had a situation where the landlord was trying to enforce the lease for an improper purpose. With a one-week break after closing arguments, the city, the NBA and the PBC nervously awaited Judge Pechman's verdict. After a week of speculation on how Judge Pechman would rule, the moment of truth had finally arrived. But with less than an hour before the verdict announcement, Mayor Nickels and Clay Bennett called simultaneous press conferences. Today I am announcing a settlement with Mr. Bennett and the Professional Basketball Club. In exchange for terminating the lease two years early, Mr. Bennett has agreed to a settlement package with a payment of up to $75 million to the city of Seattle. We made it. (Laughter) Congratulations. The NBA will be in Oklahoma City next season, playing their games. (Applause, whooping) Under the agreement, $45 million will be paid to the city immediately. Our agreement calls for Mr. Bennett and his co-owners to pay an additional $30 million in five years, 2013, if the NBA has not approved a team to play in Seattle. The transition and the move of this operation and this team, begins tomorrow morning, from Seattle to Oklahoma City. I always thought there would be a settlement, but I never thought the settlement would just be us caving. They let a team with a 41-year legacy...leave, without a fight, without finding out what the court had to say, without a court's ruling. With the ability to appeal. It was mind-boggling. It was clear to me the city was gonna win the case, and to settle it without seeing the result of that trial made no sense. I wanted to see that decision, it was sitting on her desk when we told her about the settlement. I wanted to grab it and look at it. I think I know how it would have come out. Maybe if Pechman ruled in our favor, that would have been the day. The NBA would have come back and said, "We'll give Bennett an expansion franchise." I think it was a 50-50 shot that the city of Seattle would have won. I think they knew that. They were getting beat up towards the end of that trial, by not only Pechman, but also by the reporters afterwards. The way the trial unfolded had a big impact on what the city did. Look, going into this trial, you read this lease it says you'll play 41 home games in Seattle, it says the lease can, and should be, specifically enforced. Nobody gave us much of a chance going into this trial. There's a fair chance she could have ruled in Brad Keller and Clay Bennett's favor. I was a little naive because I wanted the team to stay so badly. I think we all naively thought, "Somehow this is gonna get fixed, "just like the Mariners and the Seahawks were fixed. It's gonna happen." The last guy to stand up was Greg Nickels. By God, he was gonna stand till the end. The Mayor said for so long that this is not about money. This is not about mo... He said it time and time again. "This is not about money." But at the end...it was about money. I believed that, all along, enforcing our lease would create time for us to come to a better arrangement. We now have that deal. For months and months he said, "We are doing this for the public because we think we're right." But at the end, they settled. Politically, he just didn't have the willpower that the NBA had. He was saying, "Damn you, I will hold you to this lease. "If it costs me $100 million, I don't care, 'cause it'll cost you 200." The League was saying, "We will never come back here if you do that." It was a game of chicken, and our city blinked. Nickels sold this city out. Period. Period. Our goals at the city for this settlement were two: to protect the taxpayers' investment in KeyArena, and have a long-term future for professional basketball in Seattle. If I had felt any degree of psychic pain on the part of our city's leadership at that moment, I could have dealt with it. You know? But there was no pain, there was no grief. Somebody on the dais there said something, and Nickels and Burgess, whoever was up there sort of laughed. (Laughter) They went, "Ha, ha, ha!" That fake political laughter. "Nickels and dimes" sold out the city. To just let the Sonics go without a fight? We had the battle won. It would have been like back in the days of the Trojans. If they wouldn't have brought that big wooden horse in there, they would have never won the battle. We had the wooden horse, and basically Nickels crapped himself out of the back end of it. At the end of the day, all that would have got us was two years. And at the end of that two years we would have had a very bad relationship with the League, no team and really no prospects. From day one, our principal goal was keeping the Sonics here or getting another NBA franchise as soon as possible. We think we have the pieces to be more likely to be successful than had we waited until the Judge's ruling at four. Even at that press conference, he made it seem like a good thing. "This is OK, we're gonna get another team, the NBA still likes us now. "Hey, if we had fought this for two years, they wouldn't like us. They like us now!" That's at the point... Even my naiveté went out the window. I was like, "Come on! You sold us down the river and you think this is a good thing?" All for...what? The right to pay off the lease on KeyArena? To add a few more dollars into the operating budget? It was very shortsighted. No one's happy that we're losing the Sonics. The Mayor has repeatedly stressed the importance of keeping the Sonics here, short of that, this is a very good deal. The agreement not only required the owners to pay the city $45 million, it also put them on the hook for an additional $30 million in five years. Now the State Legislature must act. If it fails to approve public funding next year to remodel KeyArena, we will lose our rights to that second 30 million, if we do not get a team. In 2009, the State Legislature once again failed to take advantage of Steve Ballmer's $150 million offer, citing a $9 billion budget shortfall. The city said, "We have a deal. "It's great. All that needs to happen is those people over there "have to tax themselves to solve this problem." I didn't get so much interest from people on that. The City of Seattle offended a lot of people with how they handled that settlement down in Olympia. It was a gamble that Clay Bennett was willing to roll the dice on. I think he knew, I think he sensed that our state leaders wouldn't get their act together in time and, sure enough, that's what played out. How can we let Clay Bennett off the hook? Clay Bennett owed the city $30 million. Clay Bennett, the most evil person to ever set foot in this city, and we let... "Oh, go ahead. We don't need that money." We don't need that money? How about the Citizens For More Important Things? Give them the 30 million! It's like political malpractice. It's unbelievable that our legislature would not jump at that deal. We're talking about $180 million that we just let fly away. I put the primary blame at this point on the Washington State Legislature, and especially its leadership. The Mayor stood up, they refused to do their part. The agreement was based on the supposition that we could have the legislature pass the $75 million, the 6116. When that didn't happen, it went from being a really good agreement to being a really bad agreement. And that's a fact of life. Hindsight's 20-20. Whatever phrase you want to use. But to look back at that settlement now, if the City of Seattle would not have taken that buy-out, I don't think Bennett and McClendon would have held on to the team. I get mad now, looking back. If we hadn't settled, if we'd made them stay to their lease, the chances of them selling would be huge, as soon as the economy collapsed. Had they followed through with the court case, even if they'd lost and appealed, the Sonics would have played one more year in Seattle. There was no way it could have been resolved by then. That would have been 2008/9. We all know what happened. Within four months of that year, one of their main owners, Aubrey McClendon - who was the only honest guy, said "We're here to steal 'em" - lost 90% of his fortune. What do you think it woulda been like for Bennett and those guys if they were still in Seattle last year when they lost all their found money? Aubrey McClendon lost his fortune, and he may have lost his gumption. He was the moneybags behind Clay Bennett. The decision to let them out is the reason we don't have a basketball team here. It's tragic, it really should have worked out differently. The City of Seattle, Greg Nickels, are the number one people to blame. One bright note for all you Sonic fans out there, Seattle Sonic merchandise on sale. 50-90% off at the team store. We're lifelong Sonics fans. It's just such a sad day, I had to get some kind of memorabilia that'll be life... life... lifelong. Several weeks later, on the Friday of a holiday weekend, Howard Schultz quietly dropped his lawsuit, dashing any last hopes of a miracle court ruling to save the Sonics and further lessening Schultz's stature in the eyes of the Sonics faithful. I had a lot of hope that Howard started that lawsuit with the intention of, as I said, redemption, of winning this because it was the right thing to do. I talked to a minority owner or two that was part of his group. They thought it was just a PR stunt, that Schultz was looking really bad. He dropped it on a holiday weekend, when it was gonna be buried in the news cycle under strong threats from the NBA of further financial repercussions. Howard and I had a good relationship when we worked together. We don't now. Mostly as a result of the way the thing came down with the Seattle franchise. He forgot that he had a responsibility to the citizens of this city. And I blame him, and judge him and condemn him for that. The reason we're at this table is we arrived at a place with a buyer, who really wants to stay here. The five-year plan, the public trust... Don't believe any of it, he didn't. Five years ago, when I sat here and was in a position to buy the team, I remember saying that I view this as my responsibility as part of the public trust. (Echoing) ..part of the public trust... Howard Schultz may have referred to the notion of the sports team being a public trust. But one can't help but notice that when it came to digging into his own pocketbook to try and keep the public trust, and keep the team here, he was the first person to close his wallet up, take his marbles and go home. He was a salesman, a guy that can get you to buy a cup of coffee for 35 bucks, so why would you believe anything Howard Schultz told you? I think there was a level of personal frustration that built up, that caused him to make the move to sell the team. If you were to catch him on a day where he was telling the truth, he'd say he regrets it. Just two months after the settlement, the Oklahomans renamed the franchise. The team once known as the Sonics was now the Oklahoma City Thunder. It was a shock to the system. I was disappointed. I loved being in Seattle, like I said. It's like an emptiness, there's a definite emptiness. It's not the same without the NBA here. I really didn't think it was going to happen. I really thought, you know, somebody would save it. It's unbelievable. People try and compare it to other teams leaving, like the recent ones, and you can't. There aren't many teams that have been in one place for four decades. No more Sonics makes no sense at all to me. I mean...from Jack Sikma... to Freddie Brown...to Bill Russell to... There's great history and tradition to the Sonics. And why we now don't have it bothers the hell out of me. Not easy. I, uh... I mean, it is death. I mean, it's been a year and a half of a funeral, a wake. And the weather is depressing, the winters are depressing. They're grey and monotonous. I try to appeal to them through my columns and talking to people, trying to find, "What's the thing you love? The thing you love the most? "What's that thing? And what would you do for it, "to keep it, to have it? What's that thing?" We had Ray Allen here. Ray Allen is very likely the best shooter who has ever lived. There was likely nobody on the planet who has ever been able to do this one thing better than Ray Allen. Imagine that. In this city lived a human being who was better at their thing than any other human being who has ever lived. He lived here, he played here. There were 41 nights a year, 50, when you could have gone and seen that. The ultimate expression of human endeavor. The ultimate expression of a human skill, of human dedication. The way in which one man, through years of hard work, through his own passion, through his own poetry, became the very best in human history at one thing. And people let that go. I hope a team gets back here. I think the market will support it, it did for 41 years. Seattle has more millionaires than any other city, so the resources are here, but it's not always just about money. Whoever wants to put the package together, I think they can walk into the towers of the NBA in New York City and convince them that Seattle needs to have a basketball team again. I don't think it'll be too long before another team gets to Seattle. But if we don't proactively go out and try to make it happen, I don't think it's something they're just gonna grant us. To bring a team back here, to get a new arena, it's hard to say what it's gonna take. It's gonna take each and every one of us that do care about this team and this city, to get the NBA back, to do our part. I think a lot of people here and around the League hold out hope that eventually a team will return to Seattle, and that that team will once again be referred to as the Seattle Sonics. The thing is, if we get a team, it's gonna be somebody else's team. It's not gonna be a new franchise, so... I read, I keep up, so I know who's in trouble. We're gonna get New Orleans, Milwaukee, Indiana, Memphis, Sacramento. To get a team, I'm gonna have to break the hearts of people just like me, who will then have to go in front of cameras and talk about their pain like this. That's the only way we're gonna get a team. (♪ Common Market: Nina Sing) ♪ Uh, yeah ♪ Sad songs say so much ♪ Uh, yeah ♪ Yes, uh, yeah ♪ Air of iniquity is thick in my circumference ♪ Untouched are none when they summoned up to punishment ♪ Sons sent to war for the grunt work of the government ♪ All debts repaid on the last day of judgment ♪ I've heard purported it's approaching with celerity ♪ Proselytes testify with utmost sincerity ♪ I don't think he's coming, y'all try me for heresy ♪ What's all the stalling for, a little more disparity? ♪ Back in the Armageddon, tell 'em we exhausted every option ♪ Since the trade wind laid claim to caution ♪ Damned since the Gnostics allied with the sergeants ♪ I'm tired of waiting, slide the blade across it now ♪ Sing it ♪ I can't take this rain ♪ I can't stand this rain ♪ All this work in vain ♪ This world is insane ♪ Puppets on a string ♪ Pain and suffering ♪ Nothing left to bring ♪ Let my Nina... ♪ (Gunshot) (♪ Jake One: Home) ♪ Rise and shine, bitches Check out how Seattle do ♪ The flow sick shit, call it Seattle flu ♪ Outta town, acting wild, my Seattle crew ♪ Run this Jake track just like Seattle slew ♪ And the green that we blow from Seattle too ♪ That was grown in a lab at Seattle U ♪ At Qwest Field, 12th man my Seattle dude ♪ Nate Burleson wearing that Seattle blue ♪ Bosworth made all of Seattle boo ♪ The Sonics let Kemp go ♪ Seattle's through ♪ I read Seattle Times, I watch Seattle News ♪ I hope Seattle win, I watch Seattle lose ♪ Damn, it feels good to talk about home ♪ Damn it feels good to talk about home ♪ (♪ The Presidents of the United States of America: SuperSonics) ♪ Whoo! ♪ So welcome to the game ♪ Ladies and gentlemen, shout the name ♪ Seattle SuperSonics ♪ Are basketball bionic ♪ And Gary Payton was on ♪ Bounce pass up court to Shawn ♪ And the crowd sang along ♪ SuperSonics Oh, yeah ♪ SuperSonics ♪ Not just a regular team Whoo! (Commentary) Nate McMillan. Payton free, over to Schrempf. In the corner, Gary wide open, he delivers! Yes! Gary Payton hits the three... Ay caramba! ♪ Fifteen seconds to play ♪ Detlef with the baseline J ♪ Up court fast break invaders ♪ The slam dunk terminators ♪ Fans can rattle the roof ♪ Nothing but net, Big Smooth ♪ Five guys in a groove ♪ SuperSonics Oh, yeah ♪ SuperSonics ♪ Not just a regular team (Commentary) Get up, Reign Man, and make 'em good! - Golly, is that kid strong! - Oh! It's getting weird in here! Oh Ali Baba! Nobody do the voodoo like you do! ♪ SuperSonics Oh, yeah ♪ SuperSonics Oh, yeah ♪ SuperSonics Oh, yeah ♪ SuperSonics Oh, yeaaah! ♪ SuperSonics Oh, yeaaah! ♪ SuperSonics Oh, yeaaah! ♪ SuperSonics... - What's the sasquatch doing now? - I wonder. Out panhandling with his sasquatch outfit on, in 180-degree weather. It's very sad. A lot of people get hurt. Sasquatches and... It's not just the team. ♪ SuperSonics ♪ Not just a regular team, your Seattle SuperSonics! �

Candidates

Results

Houston mayoral election, 2001
Party Candidate Votes % ±
None Lee Brown 120,108 43%
None Orlando Sanchez 115,526 41%
None Chris Bell 45,575 16%
Houston mayoral election, 2001 Run-Off
Party Candidate Votes % ±
None Lee Brown 160,507 51%
None Orlando Sanchez 156,124 49%

See also


This page was last edited on 14 October 2019, at 00:12
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