How The Seattle Sonics Became The OKC Thunder Four Years Ago
OKLAHOMA CITY - The Thunder's arrival at Oklahoma City is a story itself.
News 9's Alex Cameron covered it in detail. Exactly four years ago, he was on his way to Seattle for a trial that was going to determine the team's future.
The NBA owners had already approved Clay Bennett and the ownership team's decision to move the team to Oklahoma City. But there was this pesky little matter of a lawsuit that the city of Seattle had filed against them standing in the way.
The team still had two years left on its contract with Key Arena, the city hoped to enforce the contract, and then during those two years, figure out a way to keep the team for the long-term.
Bennett and his group argued they would lose as much as $60 million if they had to play two more years there, and because taxpayers had rejected their proposal for a new arena, there were no long-term prospects for them in Seattle.
The week-long trial was contentious emails appearing to show that, from the beginning, Bennett was a "man possessed" to move the team to Oklahoma City, and documents showing that Seattle leaders were trying to inflict as much financial pain on Bennett and his group as possible.
The two sides ended up agreeing on a settlement before the judge could issue a ruling the Sonics, now Thunders' owners paid the city $45 million to get out of the lease and to leave the team name and its colors in Seattle.