- Henry Abbott, TrueHoop, NBA
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On NBA.com, David Aldridge writes about Seattle's prospects for another NBA team, and Lenny Wilkens suggests that mistakes may have been made last time around:
Wilkens says there are groups with Eastside ties that are discussing coming together to make another run at the legislature, with the intention of buying an existing team and moving it to a new arena in Bellevue. He acknowledges that he doesn't even know all of the players, so nascent are the plans -- "I know some of them, and I know they're pretty solid," Wilkens says -- but that a plan is coalescing.
(A source with knowledge of the local players involved said last week that a victory by Republican senatorial candidate Dino Rossi over incumbent Patty Murray last month may have accelerated the chances of political movement in the legislature toward public funding for an arena. But Murray won in a razor-thin election.)
"I think the people here understand the politics," said Wilkens, who led the Sonics to the NBA title in 1979. "I can't tell you this for sure, but I think the first time (Stern) went down to Olympia, I don't think he was armed with enough material. And the thing you learn about the politicians here is, they want their due, too ... when David first went down, he didn't have the lay of the land. And I thought that was a disservice to him. And they looked at him like, 'Who are you, coming in here and telling us how we should run our stuff?' ... I felt like someone who really understood our area should have been with David."
Wilkens, it is unstated but understood, understands the area, and thinks he can help in a way he couldn't when he was affiliated with Bennett.
"I've met Frank Chopp," he says, referring to the longtime speaker of the Washington legislature -- without whose approval, the locals say, nothing gets done. "He's an interesting guy. I will tell you he told me I could come anytime, but don't bring some of these other people with me. You have to give respect to the fact that there are certain things in the area that are pressing, and needful, and you can't say that we're better, or we should be ahead of them. That's not how politics works here."