When Howard Schultz sold Seattle’s NBA team to an Oklahoma City investment group, he thought the Sonics would stay here. Nope. As we all know, the Sonics are now Clay Bennett’s Oklahoma City Thunder.
The sale of happened five years ago. The team moved three years ago. That’s a long time. Think about all the things that have changed in the city, and in your life, in a few years.
Still, there are bitter feelings about the loss of the Sonics. Reactions range from people who are quietly boycotting Howard Schultz’s Starbucks stores or to those who show more overt hate toward the guy. Why?
Why can’t some people get over it?
I asked that question of Steven Pyeatt, founder of the Save Our Sonics effort. Pyeatt explains why he can’t let go of the anger, and he offers Schultz a way to “buy your soul back from the Devil.” Pyeatt is my guest blogger:
Jeff Reinking/NBAE/Getty Images
Howard, why do we hate you? Let us count the ways.
You purchased the Seattle Supersonics and talked about the responsibility of the â€œPublic Trustâ€ buying and running the team was. Clearly from the beginning it was more about marketing for your Coffee Shop, stroking your ego and making a profit, than it was protecting the legacy and putting together a winning team.
Next you made a very half-hearted attempt to resolve the issues with Key Arena and proved to everyone that you had little heart for protecting that â€œPublic Trustâ€ you had taken on. A real winner, a businessman worthy of the position you were in, would have taken on that challenge and refused to quit. You put out little effort and then quit.
You followed that up by bailing out on the team and the region when it was clear you were incapable of living up to the responsibility you had taken on. You cut and run, and did so in the most offensive way possible. Despite half your ownership group not wanting to sell, local owners willing to buy, and a region counting on you to prove you had a soul equal to the rhetoric you put out, you sold to a â€œman possessedâ€ to remove our Super Sonics team from our region.
We knew you were lying when you said the ultimate goal was to keep the team here. If that were even one of your goals you would have sold to the other members of your ownership group. Of course we all know the real reason you wanted the team to leave townâ€¦ So a capable owner would not succeed where you failed on and off the court. Better to take your profits and run than admit you couldnâ€™t cut it as an NBA owner. You turned your back on the city you made your fortune off of and sold your soul to the devil for a few million.
You then gave us a ray of hope that you were a man of integrity, that you had a soul, that you cared about our region, and that you were willing to fight to fix your mistake by filing a lawsuit that had a very real chance of keeping the team here in the region. Then, when real men would stand firm on their convictions, and when you could have saved your soul, you once again quit on this region and dropped the lawsuit.
The ultimate slap in the face to this region, and the people you so daily fleece of every penny possible, was to have the unmitigated gall to reference having a soul in the title of your book. A man with a soul, a man with integrity, would have stepped up and apologized to the people for failing to honor that public trust you talked about. You would have asked for forgiveness for the mistake you made that cost us the team, and you would have admitted that your decision to sell to out of state interests devoted to moving the team was about your personal ego not the best interests of our region. Your rhetoric is offensive. Your actions speak so loudly we canâ€™t hear what you say. But most important is that your silence about what you did tells everyone you have not one ounce of remorse, not one ounce of integrity, and that your soul is empty.
You want to change all that? Do you want to prove that you are what you write? It is simple. Call a press conference, admit to your failings, ask for forgiveness, and announce you are willing to write a very large check towards the building of a new arena so that the NBA can return to this region. You donâ€™t issue a press release, you donâ€™t give a half-hearted apology, and you donâ€™t let a P.R. person shield you from the tough questions. Then throw it open to questions, answer each and every one of them openly and honestly, until no one has any questions left.
This would put an end to the issue, allow people to forgive you, and most importantly would buy your soul back from the Devil.
How many of you still feel like Pyeatt does? Hasn’t Schultz also done a lot of good for the region?