David Stern announced Friday that Clay Bennett, owner of the Oklahoma City Thunder, is the NBA's new chair of its relocation committee. This was met with great disbelief and snark, given that Bennett's experience with relocation involves repeated and documented lies. The committee is overseeing the Sacramento Kings' potential relocation to Anaheim. You'll understand why Sacramentans are particularly put off by the Bennett news.
But Stern maintained his pokerface when asked later about the issue. Via Jon Santiago, here's Stern response to a question about whether that represented a conflict:
Seemed like it be a good idea to lean on him for this one.
Oh boy. Bennett is indeed experienced in executing a heartbreaking, devastating relocation. Is that what Stern wants? Bennett is experienced in lying to the paying fan's face while engineering a sandbagging campaign behind the scenes. Is that what Stern wants? Bennett is experienced in ruining a basketball-hungry, lucrative NBA market for his own selfish purposes. Is that what Stern wants?
When Howard Schultz, a Seattle native, sold the Sonics to Bennett, he gave a fox the keys to the henhouse. By letting Bennett take over the relocation committee, Stern is asking a really sly fox to teach a somewhat more inept pair of foxes how to be better foxes. It's absurd in every way.
From our own Brian Floyd at SB Nation Seattle:
Hiring Bennett is a slap in the face to Sacramento just as much as it is to Seattle. For a city desperate for hope and longing to hang onto its team, seeing Bennett in charge of the proceedings to decide the fate of the Kings is disheartening, to say the least. ...
Maybe we shouldn't be judging Bennett on his past -- after all, he is the best person to lead a relocation charge having engineered his own successful move. But this isn't about successfully moving a team away as history repeats itself. It's about keeping a team in the place where its history and tradition was cultivated, and choosing loyalty over a few million dollars.
Stern is essentially pre-judging this issue in favor of relocation in broad daylight by announcing Bennett's role. He is letting the world know that it'll take a save from Sacramento -- not a great case for relocation by the Maloofs and Anaheim -- to stop this train. Relocation becomes the status quo, and staying in a loyal, viable city like Sacramento is the alternative. It's insane, and completely backwards.