(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – U.S. Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell today sent a letter to NBA Commissioner David Stern calling on the NBA to do the right thing and allow good faith efforts aimed at keeping the Sonics in Seattle to move forward before holding a vote to relocate the franchise.
"We believe that attempting to allow a move away from Seattle at this time would be a breach of trust and set a damaging precedent for the NBA. Rather than vote to allow the owners to move the Sonics, we ask that you allow appropriate time for good faith efforts to find a way to keep this team in Seattle," Murray and Cantwell wrote.
The full text of the Senators' letter follows:
April 16, 2008
Mr. David Stern, Commissioner
National Basketball Association
645 5th Avenue
New York, NY 10022-5928
Dear Commissioner Stern:
The Seattle Supersonics have maintained a forty-year franchise in Seattle and are a part of the identity, culture, and history of Washington state. Only twenty months ago, an Oklahoma-based ownership group purchased the Sonics, publicly committing to make a good faith effort to keep the team in Seattle. They pledged to Howard Schultz, the selling owner, that they would work to keep the team in Seattle. And when we heard that some of the owners wanted to move the team, the head of the new owners’ group, Clay Bennett, pledged to you that he was not trying to move them to Oklahoma City.
Despite these public statements and private pledges we now know that “good faith efforts” meant little or nothing to the new ownership group. Emails recently discovered in a lawsuit over the ownership group’s efforts to break a lease agreement for KeyArena indicate that Clay Bennett and the other new owners never intended a good-faith effort to keep the team in Seattle, and instead were seeking to move the team as soon as they could. Lengthy litigation should not be the only way that the Sonics can be kept in the city where they were founded.
We believe that attempting to allow a move away from Seattle at this time would be a breach of trust and set a damaging precedent for the NBA. Rather than vote to allow the owners to move the Sonics, we ask that you allow appropriate time for good faith efforts to find a way to keep this team in Seattle. We ask that you remove consideration of the relocation of this historic franchise from your agenda and, barring that, that you reject the relocation of our team from its hometown.
United States Senator
United States Senator