Saturday, June 16, 2012

Columnist Zirin: the story behind Oklahoma City's popular basketball team

Dave Zirin, writing Red State Hoops: The Oklahoma City Thunder and the value of Seattle's rage for The Nation, reminds us that the popular basketball team has an ugly back story, based on moving it from Seattle and leveraging public support.

Seattle, he predicts, will again get pro hoops:
But on what terms will the Sonics come back? The people of Seattle took a principled stand against being ripped off by the NBA, and handing billionaires a $300 million bounty of corporate welfare. All of that courage, drama, and pain will have been for nothing if they just accept the terms that David Stern will attempt to impose. There is much you can do especially when the NBA demands a new arena as a precondition for pro ball to return. You can demand private funding for the new facility like they did in Philadelphia. Or you can demand a dollar of public ownership for every tax dollar that goes into the team. You can point to Green Bay and say, “If the Packers have fan ownership, then why can’t we?” It’s not just about having the Sonics return but how they return. Until that day, we should all hope to see the Thunder fall flat. Let every owner itching to move their team to greener pastures, see that it’s not all parades and glory. If [Thunder owners] Clay Bennett and Aubrey McClendon don't believe in climate change, let them believe in karma.
Just think: what if the city and state of New York had asked for a piece of the Barclays Center arena in exchange for, say, giving direct subsidies (both) and giving away naming rights (state)?

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