Chris Hansen's problem is that he isn't a big enough scumbag.
You see, the reason the NBA this week turned away Hansen's bid to buy the Sacramento Kings and move them to Seattle was that he was honest about his intentions. If he had followed the established NBA model, he would have gone about this thing entirely differently.
Clearly, the chief reasoning of NBA owners for declining to add Hansen and Steve Ballmer to their list of owners was that they were from Seattle. When the NBA ripped their team of 41 years out of Seattle back in 2007, it was intended as an object lesson for the rest of the league: Unless you bow to our extortion demands, you will lose your team.
Sacramento, obviously, got that lesson. After teetering on losing the Kings because of the failure to build a new arena, the city gave up every ounce of its soul in its desperate effort to keep the NBA in town. The new arena deal requires the taxpayers to foot about 60 percent of the tab.
So of course the NBA was going to reward the city that gave in to their extortion demands. And it would continue to punish the city that insists on limiting the taxpayers' role in enriching billionaire owners and their exposure to ever-ratcheting arena costs.
You see, Seattle thought it had done everything right for years. Its fans always supported the Sonics -- even when they sucked, the team still averaged 15,000 a game -- and were among the most rabid and knowledgeable in the league. (I was myself a season ticket holder for over a decade.) There's a reason so many NBA teams are populated with players from Seattle high schools: It is a basketball-saturated town.
We even bellied up to the bar in the 1990s on the arena demands -- spent $100 million tearing apart and renovating the old Seattle Center Coliseum, three-quarters of which was paid for by Seattle taxpayers. When it reopened in 1995, David Stern came and proclaimed the new facility as state-of-the-art for the next generation.
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