I've ripped the audio from the April 18 press conference to a pair of MP3 files, and you can listen and/or download to your heart's content ... click an image for either David Stern or Clay Bennett's portion of the long press conference ...
37 minutes, 30 seconds
20 minutes, 33 seconds
But, while Doug Dawg has been busy passing out kudos to Mayor Mick, the voters of Oklahoma City, Roy Williams and all of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, Governor Brad Henry and lots of others, he has been remiss in not thanking those without whose help the move from Seattle to Oklahoma City would not have been possible.
It is high time to correct that glaring error.
So, not necessarily in the order of importance, Oklahoma City owes a special thanks to the following people for making this dream of Oklahoma City come true ...
Mr. Van Dyk when campaigning for Proposition I-91
Damn straight! Without his "Citizens for More Important Things" successful campaign (75% of Seattle voters voting, "Yes"), Seattle might have possessed some means of seriously providing a tax-based proposal which, in turn, would provide a vehicle for negotiating with the PBC for a new arena with a combination of public and private financing. Soooo ... a shout must go out to Chris Van Dyk!
What Mayor Nichols has consistently done is say, "Hell, no, they won't go," over and over and in various manifestations, lead his troops into the caves and never came out to see the sun shine ... as in ... leading the charge for a sales tax or some other means to find a constructive solution to Seattle's arena problem.
After the 4/18 press conference, the Mayor reportedly said, when asked if he was expecting a new, richer offer from Bennett, "I don't really care. We're going to go into court in June." The Mayor doesn't propose anything other than playing Hardball? New or improved arena proposal? Nothing said. That's cool (for OKC) - and I'm sooo glad that our mayor, Mick Cornett lives in our town ... he seems more than proficient in getting things done ... e.g., in the span of time between December 2007 and March 2008, (1) the Ford Center expansion/upgrade proposal was put to and then passed by City Council, (2) got on a March 2008 ballot, and (3) with the Mayor's leadership we, the voters, had the opportunity, to give our "say" ... and, when given this fast-moving opportunity, 62% of us said, "HELL YES!" ... can you begin to imagine that, were Mayoral roles reversed, that Seattle Mayor Mick Cornett would have not done the same for Seattle that he did for Oklahoma City! Whew -- the luck of the draw on city karma and/or mayoral residence broke OKC's way on this one, big time!
Thank you, thank you, thank you, Mr. Tough Guy! We owe you!
What can one say? Mr. Chopp held the power of leadership when the PBC made its pitch to the Seattle Legislature in January 2007. The proposal, championed by Renton State Senator Margarita Prentice never even got out of committee and the voters were denied the opportunity of voting up or down on what had been proposed. Without Mr. Chopp's leadership, who can say what the voters of Washington State might have done, or what else may have evolved in that process? Mr. Chopp, perhaps the state's chief doorman or gate keeper, kept that door tightly shut on any and all public financing initiatives at the state level!
Ahh ... the Governor who talks the talk but doesn't walk the walk – the state's paramount leader who doesn't bust her butt to find a solution which match her publicly spoken words! Even after the PBC legislative initiative failed, it was apparently within her power to call a Special Session of the Legislature to address the situation. Nope. Didn't happen, despite her public remarks that keeping the team in Seattle was one of her high priorities. Oklahoma City was blessed because of her ineffective, perhaps insincere, leadership in the time of great crisis for the Seattle franchise.
Others could be mentioned, but Doug Dawgz honorable mention goes to ...
|With journalists like this waiving their flags of war but doing little to prod local, county, and state government to do a damn thing in getting Seattle's arena problem fixed a long long time ago, even before PBC bought the team, Seattle if not Washington state hunkered down to a bunker mentality which did nothing constructive and only provided reams of useless and counterproductive rhetoric ... in a time when action, not reaction, was needed big time.|
Oddly, a place for Chris Van Dyk or the Governor's, certainly not the media's role in this debacle, are not included as poll options.
One must give Mr. Kelley high marks for name-calling skills, whether his object be Clay Bennett, or Oklahoma City, or Oklahoma, and he must even gets superior marks for his arrogance which, by all appearances, is without boundaries or limits, but (and though it was doubtless unintended), his constant negativism formed a part of the Washington milieu that proved to be helpful to Oklahoma City. He was not alone in this, but he deserves special mention, just the same.
In a combative mood during the April 18 press conference, he asked David Stern what his thoughts were on the "$300 million proposal out there," he perhaps having missed earlier press reports that the "Ballmer" initiative failed to gain support in the Legislature, that Seattle had failed to become creative and come up with a means of funding the $75 million shortfall on the public sector side, and that Ballmer's offer had been automatically withdrawn when the April 10 offer's deadline was not met. All the proposal got in the Legislature was that, "we'll talk about it next session." While Seattle did find it possible to commit to $75 million of the $150 million public share, none could or would pony up the remainder, and the proposal was dead, and, when the question was posed to Commissioner Stern, no "$300 million proposal" was "out there," unless "out there" was in the reporter's wishfully-thinking mind. So, when reporters make utterly dumb false comments and pose questions like Chris Daniels did, it must be said that such things are and have been helpful to Oklahoma City, too.
And, finally, thanks must be given to the good citizens of Seattle who first gave their favor to seemingly sweet-sounding tunes of piper Chris Van Dyk, and, later, didn't do a damn thing to change the course that he set them upon. And, so, to all of the above, all of whom have collectively made it possible for Oklahoma City to be the home of an NBA franchise for at least fifteen years, beginning whenever the team's moving vans are allowed by the federal court or a negotiated settlement or April 2010 (whichever comes sooner) to pack up and head 1,987 miles this-a-way, this Okie guy, roundly ridiculed in the Seattle Times Sonics forum (and in which place I've never registered or participated) simply says, "Thanks, guys, for all that you have done in helping to make my city's dream come true!"
So, in a one-vote poll of myself, Doug Dawg would cut up that above pie chart quite differently ...
Seattle held all the cards to keep the franchise. Play them wisely and the team would stay. Incredibly, every move that Seattle chose to make worsened its position beginning with Chris Van Dyk leading his city followers into the Puget Sound as he piped his "more important things" tune. Initially, Oklahoma City wasn't even in the game, but now franchise will soon be heading down to the upstart and proactive city of Oklahoma City. While Washington state had a share of the blame, largely, the blame falls on Seattle since, first and foremost, it was Seattle's responsibility to take care of its own business.
Almost two years have gone by since writing my March 2006 article, Sleeping In Seattle? Turns out they were, and did, and, just now, after the deed is done, may be opening their eyes to what their public and private leadership has not done for them. Many, many, thanks to each of the above, one and all!