It has been 11 years since Starbucks Founder and former CEO Howard Schultz sold the Seattle Supersonics to Oklahoma City businessman Clay Bennett. Schultz sold the team to Bennett on the condition that the Professional Basketball Club, LLC (PBC) would execute a “good faith effort” to get a deal done for a new arena in the Seattle. To keep the Sonics in the city of Seattle. After the city of Seattle turn down a deal to pay for a $500 million dollar arena, Bennett notified the NBA that he would like to relocate the team to Oklahoma City. After Schultz tried to sue Bennett seeking to rescind the sale of the Sonics and transfer the ownership.
Unfortunately, the NBA stated that the sale was valid because Schultz signed a release form that did not allow him to sue Bennett’s group, but he would later argue that the proposal would have broken league ownership rules. After being overruled Shultz would then drop the lawsuit. Clearing the way for Bennett to relocate the team to Oklahoma City and changed the name from the Supersonics to Thunder.
Since the Sonics left the Emerald city prominent public figures such as Gary Payton, Spencer Haywood, Russell Wilson, Walter Jones, Rashard Lewis, Matt Hasselbeck, Kevin Durant, Nate Robinson, Jamal Crawford, Sue Bird, and Breanna Stewart have all voiced the need for the team to come back to Seattle.
In 2013, the Hansen-Ballmer group, which consisted of hedge fund manager Chris Hansen, former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, and the Nordstrom family would agree to purchase 65 percent of the Sacramento Kings. However, The deal would fall through because the NBA allowed Sacramento Mayor at the time, Kevin Johnson, to put a financial group together to purchase the Kings from the NBA. The year after, the Hansen-Ballmer attempted to purchase the Milwaukee Bucks for $650 million and move the team to Seattle according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst. If the deal went through at the time, the group would have needed to pay an additional $150 million for the relocation fee. Instead, the team was sold to hedge fund billionaires Wesley Edens and Marc Lasry.
Fast Forward a couple of years, Ballmer is now the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers and Seattle is still looking for a team.
In 2016, Seattle Seahawks Quarterback Russell Wilson joined the Sodo arena group to bring NBA, and NHL to Seattle headed by Chris Hansen.
“I’m excited to announce I’ve partnered w/the Sonics Arena Group to help bring the @NBA and @NHL to the best fan base in the world. Seattle,’’ said Wilson.
“There is no place like the Emerald City. The positive impact sports has on our kids and many generations to come, and bringing different cultures and people together is what motivates and inspires me’’ said Wilson.
— Russell Wilson (@DangeRussWilson) November 14, 2016
“We couldn’t be more thrilled that Russell is joining our partnership and continued efforts to bring the NBA and NHL back to Seattle, said Hansen.“
“As you are all aware, we have always kept our focus on doing this for the right reasons – Our love for the City, our love of basketball, and our belief that pro sports have the ability to positively influence our youth and bring communities together in a way very few things in this world can.“
“It is with this shared view that we welcome Russell, a young, smart and passionate entrepreneur, as our business partner. We know that his enthusiasm, positivity and ‘never give up’ attitude will make a huge difference in our effort.’’
Last year, I spoke with Hall of Famer and former Seattle Seahawk Walter Jones and asked him if he had any interest adding his name into the mix.
”If someone came and asked me to be a part of it, I would be interested. I know Dwyane Wade said something about it and once we get a Hockey team, it will become more of a reality of getting a basketball team. We must get an arena first, and a couple of years ago we thought it was going to happen with the Kings coming, but Seattle is my home now. I hope to still be around to see another NBA team come here,” Jones told me.
Jones also shared with me that he was approached about possibly joining the NHL ownership group to bring an NHL franchise to the Emerald City.
Former Seattle Seahawk and Founder of Will Ventures, Isaiah Kacyvenski is willing to be part of an investment group:
”I would absolutely love to be a part of an investment group that brings the Sonics back to Seattle. I was a huge fan of the Sonics when I played in Seattle and look at that as a great opportunity,” Kacyvenski told me.
During a visit to Seattle, last summer I presented the same question to future Hall of Famers Sue Bird and Breanna Stewart:
“If by hat you mean money, that is a different question, but being someone that was here when the Sonics were here. I love that people are talking about it not just Dwyane Wade, but other people throughout the NBA and even Russell Wilson in the NFL. People have been talking about wanting the Sonics back, and it has obviously been the topic of conversation since they left. I think for us anything we can do to help I do not think it would be a monetary thing or not.” Says Bird.
“I don’t think it is a monetary thing, so much, I feel enough people would invest in it. It’s just actually getting them here.” Said Stewart.
Bird would continue by stating that she thinks it will happen and “the fact that people are talking about it the process will happen sooner. ” I would love to be a part of anything and anyone that is trying to bring the Sonics here.”
Seattle native and three-time slam dunk champion Nate Robinson is someone that not only wants to purchase a share of the team, but he also wants to play for the Sonics:
”Would I? Of course, I would, but would not want just a percentage I want to play for the Seattle Sonics. After I played, then I would like to own an interest in the team. I would like to show what I can offer as an owner and what we expect in our players while giving an opportunity for someone like myself that is hungry and wants to play hard. I want to be a part of building and developing a winning culture,” Robinson told me.
Kevin Durant, who was drafted second overall in the 2007 Draft by the Seattle Supersonics has been an advocate over the years. Keeping the conversation of having a team in Seattle alive share with me earlier this season that he would be interested in purchasing a piece of the Sonics after his career was over.
”Hell Yeah” I would love to, but it is way easier to say, yeah, I want to be a part of it, than to know how to do it,” Durant told me.
He added:” Hell Yeah, I would do that.” That would be so much fun to bring basketball back to Seattle and try to build a winning team. As someone that enjoys the business as well, but understands the pure game of basketball. Especially, in Seattle that would be sweet. That has always been a dream of mine to run an NBA franchise and help lead young players and young people as I get older that would be an amazing experience.”
”That would be a dream come true because all I really want to do with my time on earth is to be around basketball. If I can’t play anymore that would be the next best option.”
Kevin Durant shares his thoughts on possibly owning a piece of the Seattle Supersonics one day, and his interest in putting together a winning team, while mentoring young players. #KevinDurant #SeattleSupersonics #Seattle pic.twitter.com/o4VOVhbMG9
— Landon Buford (@LandonBuford) November 23, 2018
Former Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck is interested in owning a piece of ever Seattle based franchises.