Not even a record-breaking bid, a brand-new, lavish arena, and a feverish, basketball-starved fan base could bring the NBA back to Seattle.
The Sacramento Kings are staying put, and the Pacific Northwest will go at least one more year without an NBA team. But deputy commissioner Adam Silver, the successor to current league commissioner David Stern, still believes a team in the Seattle market is feasible.
"We've never wavered in our desire to return to the Seattle market at some point,” Silver said to reporters Thursday. "... and we fully expect we'll return there one day."
Silver’s statements, along with his rise to the league’s top executive position in 2014, and the infrastructure already in place in Seattle, mean that the city can expect a return of professional basketball.
On Wednesday, the league’s Board of Governors backed the previous decision from the Relocation Committee to block the sale of the Kings to an investment group led by Valiant Capital’s Chris Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who intended to move the team to Seattle and re-name them the “SuperSonics.”
Both Hansen and Ballmer have been diligent throughout the process, which originally started back in January when they came to a decision with the Maloof Family on a sale for the Kings.
“While we are obviously extremely disappointed with today’s relocation vote and truly believe we put forth both a significantly better offer and Arena plan, we do thank the league and the owners for their time and consideration and look forward to hearing back on our agreement to join the Maloofs as Limited Partners in the Kings,” Hansen wrote on SonicsArena.com.
“But most of all I would like to thank everyone in Seattle who has been a part of our effort and supported our cause. Words simply can’t express how much your support has meant to me personally and to our City. I truly believe we did everything possible to put our best foot forward in this process and you all should be proud and hold your heads high today.
“Our day will come...and when it does it will just be that much sweeter for the struggle.
“I love you Seattle!”
Hansen and Ballmer’s group really went above and beyond to resuscitate the Sonics franchise. Before the vote was announced, the group upped their bid even more to $625 million, blowing past the previous mark set by Joe Lacob when he purchased the Golden State Warriors in 2010.
The group also has a billion-dollar arena plan in place, with $200 million coming from Seattle and the state of Washington, the very issue that originally saw the Sonics move and become the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2008.
Even though Hansen and his group knew they were fighting an uphill battle to snag the Kings, he is still working with city and state officials to honor their previous stadium agreements, according to KING 5 TV in Seattle. And another team could be available shortly. There is already talk of the Milwaukee Bucks leaving unless a replacement can be found for the 25-year-old Bradley Center.
While Stern may not have won points with Seattle fans for his comments yesterday, the city and the NBA had a 41-year relationship. One that could be rekindled, someday.