When Clay Bennett took ownership of the club, he said all the right things to keep hometown fans on his side. He even went so far as to unveil an arena proposal that would have kept the team in Seattle. But did anyone really believe him? Bennett is an Oklahoma City native, and he came over just after the Hornets moved back to New Orleans. Seattle was on the verge of relocation when he arrived -- so why would he choose the Sonics as a purchase target if he didn't want to take them to OKC?
Now Bennett has exactly what he wanted all along -- a crop of young talent, a ton of cap room on the horizon, and a city's, his city's, full support as there are no other professional sports teams in town. Mr. Bennett had no problem selling the farm on the franchise and looking to the future, leaving a helpless city and its basketball fans in his wake. What does he care? It was all part of his master plan. I gotta say, the whole thing smells funny. I am a Northwest native, and the Sonics' departure leaves a basketball-shaped hole in the third largest market on the Left Coast.
I'm sorry, but the "Oklahoma City Supersonics" just doesn't have a great ring to it, either. The Space Needle can no longer be affixed to the Sonic emblem, so what will be its replacement? I searched the internet for "Oklahoma City tourist attractions," and this came up #3: http://travel.yahoo.com/p-travelguide-2738793-omniplex_oklahoma_city-i;_ylt=AsDc6Xogtvf55wcLf301ghCpFmoL. Wow, #3 in the whole city? #1, you ask? A memorial to the 168 people who died in that tragic bombing in 1995. I don't want to sound cynical and I would certainly never make light of such a horrific event, but I just don't see it meeting standard protocal for NBA logos. Moreover, the Oklahoma City metropolitan area population is ~1.2M, compared to Seattle's metropolitan population of ~3.2M. I know Seattle fans have been fickle at times, but its looking more like a sentimental move than a wise business decision on the part of our boy Clay.
Alright, alright, I'll stop my griping. In fact, I'll buy this move on one condition -- the Sonics are moved to the Eastern Conference. I realize that absent a move to New England, Stern wouldn't spend his precious time re-shuffling the makeup of the conferences -- especially when he could be spending that time face down at a beach in Cancun (have you seen that glorious tan?). Just hear me out, though, as I think my proposal makes logical sense.
Seattle/Oklahoma City, Minnesota, and Memphis should play in the East with the rest of the NBA's JV squads. This would improve greatly improve these franchises' chances to be competitive. It would also spare us West Coast fans the frequent matchups with these miserable opponents. To further brighten the line between the two conferences, Boston, Detroit, and Cleveland should play in the West. After all, these are the only three teams that could compete this year in a crowded Western Conference.
Please, spare me your Orlando Magic sentiments. The Magic, an astounding 31-11 in the East, are a pedestrian 14-13 against Western Conference opponents. They will finish 3rd in the East but it would be an uphill battle for them to make the playoffs in the West. To put things into perspective, Phoenix is #5 in the West and has a 22-4 record against the East this year. As far as overall records go, Portland is #10 in the West but would be #5 in the East.
The stats don't lie: the East is absolute garbage this season. Since a two-tiered system will never be employed, at least spare the West's worst from further embarrassment and give them a fighting chance in the East. Give the East powers some real competition night-in and night-out by moving them to the West. The two conferences could have their own playoff systems, and the winner in the East could score a best-of-seven series against the champions of the D-League.
I'll keep dreaming...