Clay Bennett Rumors

That a major station could ignore a third of the professional sports sphere entirely is preposterous from an outsider’s perspective. But it is a testament to the severity of the pain that the move to Oklahoma City caused the city of Seattle. “There’s no doubt there’s a huge hole here. There’s a huge gap here, especially in the wintertime. Once the NFL season ends in January, that’s when the traditional rhythms of thinking about basketball used to start and now it’s gone.” “People say, ‘Oh it’s not that bad’, but really it is like there was a death in the family. When they left, it left a huge hole in the city’s sports heart that might never be fixed,” add Gastineau.
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But Bennett’s words were as devoid of truth as much as KeyArena is devoid of Sonics basketball today. The Gasman’s foresight became a reality. After a nasty two-year litigation process, the team announced on July 2nd, 2008 that they would be moving to Oklahoma City. What went wrong? Mike Gastineau strikes the gavel and points the finger right at Schultz. “Howard Schultz was a quitter and that’s what killed this team. He is the beginning, middle, and end of it. He is an incredible titan of industry. He taught the world about $4 for a cup of coffee but he was a terrible basketball owner,” says Gastineau.
Fresh off a stunning collapse that pushed his Los Angeles Clippers within a game of season’s end, still fuming over a controversial replay call he would later call “horrendous” and “series-defining,” Doc Rivers marched out of the locker room late Tuesday with fury in his eyes. He headed toward the interview room only to spot Oklahoma City Thunder chairman Clay Bennett walking past in the hallway, according to Yahoo Sports.
Anthony Slater: Clay Bennett: “The Oklahoma City Thunder strongly supports the decisive action taken today by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. Ours is a league of inclusion, tolerance and fairness. The Thunder organization will continue to work to foster the tenets of diversity and respect, and build on that standard moving forward.”
The saying goes “One can judge a man by the company he keep.” That gem of a quote is credited to Euripides, 480 B.C. Yet, it could just as easily apply to Oklahoma City Thunder chairman Clay Bennett. Since bringing an NBA franchise to his home state, the Oklahoma City native has stayed pretty much in the shadows, letting general manager Sam Presti be the public face of the organization. However, the business mogul and civic leader gave Oklahomans a rare glimpse into his personal life when he was inducted into the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame. What stood out to them most about his induction was who he chose to present him. He went with NBA legend Bill Russell. Bennett didn’t choose the Hall of Fame center just to show off. He did it for the simplest of reasons. Russell is a friend. “I have had a very nice relationship with Bill,” Bennett said. “I thought it might be fun to bring him to Oklahoma. And let others hear and enjoy him as I have. He was very gracious to accept. I am honored he would be here.”
Bennett still remembers what it was like for him in those early years when he and the Professional Basketball Club purchased the Seattle SuperSonics in 2006. It was an established franchise with an NBA title under its belt and solid fan base in the Pacific Northwest. But running a team in Washington State was not his dream. Amid controversy and being labeled a villain by Seattle fans, Bennett found a way to transplant the Sonics to Oklahoma City, changing the name in the process. While that period was difficult, Bennett now cherishes that time because it gave the franchise a foundation to build upon. “I am gratified by that,” Bennett said. “I am proud of our people. Especially proud of the players who were at the center of the focus when we moved here. We learned a lot in those early days. I think you do learn more through difficult times and we certainly had them. But we are focused on doing better and getting better. Keeping this going.”
Russell is one of the most respected and admired athletes to ever come through the NBA. He is known as a man who chooses his friends carefully. “I am proud to say that Clay is a friend of mine,” Russell said. “The friendship is based on the fact that when we think about each other, we never think about what he can do for me, but what I can do for him, and if I am able to do anything for him. That’s the way friendships are built.”
As a teenager, Bennett dreamed of owning the Dallas Cowboys. In the ’80s, Bennett even looked into that very prospect one of the two times the Cowboys were for sale. But the Cowboys never were leaving Dallas. What Bennett has wanted most was a franchise for his hometown. “It’s always been a big deal to Clay, since he became a young adult, that Oklahoma City got some kind of major league franchise,” Ike Bennett said. “Always felt like that’s what Oklahoma City needed to get put on the map.”
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But Bennett agreed to speak to The Oklahoman in advance of the Hall of Fame induction. And it’s clear he’s thrilled with what has become of his hometown. “I have always been proud of Oklahoma City,” Bennett said. “I have always been proud it’s been my home, but there were those years when I knew we were an inferior place to live, compared to many other cities throughout the country. We did not have the assets and amenities that others had. And I had a desire to be impactful in terms of supporting our city and helping it develop and grow. And was fortunate with many, many others to have that opportunity and see some of these things come together.”
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The 12 owners on the NBA’s relocation/finance committee will make the recommendation on the future of the Kings: • Peter Holt, Spurs (chairman of the board of governors) • Micky Arison, Heat • Clay Bennett, Thunder • Jeanie Buss, Lakers • James Dolan, Knicks • Wyc Grousbeck, Celtics • Ted Leonsis, Wizards • Greg Miller, Jazz • Robert Sarver, Suns • Herb Simon, Pacers • Larry Tanenbaum, Raptors • Glen Taylor, Timberwolves
The call took place on Tuesday – one day before Yahoo! Sports reported the finalizing of a deal – and informed several league owners that the Hansen-Ballmer Seattle group would purchase 65 percent of the Kings, sources said. The league office told members of the relocation committee that the non-binding agreement would constitute 53 percent of the franchise owned by the Maloof family and an additional 12 percent from minority owner Bob Hernreich. The sale price of $525 million is considered an overall valuation of the franchise. The committee is comprised of several NBA owners, including committee chair Clay Bennett of Oklahoma City.
From the league office, pressure on the Maloofs to sell has been growing, sources said – just as hopes for a new Sacramento arena have been fading. Seattle Sonics fans will never forgive Stern for his complicit role in Clay Bennett’s deception to move that franchise to Oklahoma City, but make no mistake: Stern desperately wants to return the NBA to one of its great markets and wants it for his own measure of vindication before he leaves office.
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NBA Commissioner David Stern, accompanied by Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver and four members of the relocation committee, emerged from behind closed doors at 4:46 local time. Stern and the four owners – Glen Taylor (Minnesota Timberwolves), Clay Bennett (Oklahoma City), Mickey Arison (Miami) and Greg Miller (Utah Jazz) – were off to a board of governors meeting at the Amway Center. Stern said he planned to attend tonight’s All-Star Game and then return to the hotel and rejoin the meeting. He said the good news is “we’re still talking.”
Many have wondered over the past two seasons how the Thunder could possibly retain its core, which quickly became cluttered with talented parts. But the picture finally is beginning to crystallize. And in between pre-written paragraphs praising Westbrook, Presti on Sunday provided the most telling answer as to how it will be done. “Days like today are made possible because of our owner, Clay Bennett, who’s shown unwavering support in our efforts to build and sustain an elite basketball organization,” Presti said. “We’re fortunate to have an owner as committed as Mr. Bennett is.”
In observing Oklahomans in the community as well as from courtside, Davis said one aspect that defines the people of the state is their willingness to take a risk to try to make something happen. He points to agricultural and oil and gas. But he doesn’t stop there. “Oklahoma City took a huge risk, defined the term ‘leap of faith,’ when it built the arena hoping to land a professional sports team,” he said. “And it took a spectacular series of events, starting with Hurricane Katrina, for anyone outside to take the notion seriously. Folks like Ron Norick and Mick Cornett and Clay Bennett believed, and here we are.”
That has been the mission for Payton, perhaps the franchise’s greatest player. He is trying to muster up support from local leaders to build a new arena. “We’re not able to talk about a team coming back here yet because the five-year deal is not over yet. That was part of the deal when Clay Bennett took the team,” Payton said. “When that happens then you can go to (commissioner) David Stern and say, ‘Look, this is what we have.’ We need to get an arena here first. “We all know that this is a great city, a beautiful city, but NBA is about show. You got to show them. The history is rich here. The team was here for a long time. Then we broke it. We just gave the team away. This city needs basketball.”
The makers of the award-winning documentary “Sonicsgate: Requiem for a Team” unveiled their latest project Wednesday during halftime of the Western Conference Finals game between Dallas and Oklahoma City. Director Jason Reid and producer Adam Brown teamed with Seattle hip-hop duo Blue Scholars and filmed a short narrative film for the group’s single “Slick Watts.” Reid reached out to the former Sonics great, who stars in the seven-minute film with Blue Scholars’ DJ Sabzi (Saba Mohajerjasbi) and MC Geologic (George Quibuyen). The short film is online at sonicsgate.org.
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, as well as members of the region’s business community, revealed that $9.2 million in corporate money had been pledged toward keeping the Kings in Sacramento. That revelation came shortly after a meeting with the NBA’s fact- finding team, headed up by Oklahoma City Thunder principle owner Clay Bennett and NBA attorney Harvey Benjamin. That’s $2.2 million more than Johnson initially told the league could be pledged when he met with the NBA Board of Governors last week. “Probably two weeks ago most of us thought the Sacramento Kings were moving to Anaheim,” Matt Mahood, President and CEO of the Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce said. “But I believe through our efforts and Mayor Johnson’s leadership, Sacramento put a stake in the ground today saying the Sacramento Kings need to stay here.”
Owners of the NHL’s San Jose Sharks and the HP Pavilion arena appear to be spearheading hopes of bringing an NBA team to San Jose. Mayor Chuck Reed of San Jose told Yahoo! Sports that Silicon Valley Sports & Entertainment Enterprises reached out to the Maloof brothers, owners of the Kings, about bringing the franchise to San Jose to no avail as the Maloofs are intent on moving to Anaheim. The HP Pavilion holds 18,500 seats for basketball with 66 suites. It hosted a regional in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament last year and hosted the Golden State Warriors during the 1995-96 season while their arena in nearby Oakland was renovated. “We have all the ingredients for [basketball],” Reed said. “We just need someone that wants to buy a team and put them in the arena. That’s all.”