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Monday, October 12, 2009

"It's like fighting a hurricane. You hope the hurricane's not going to blow your house down. But good luck with that."

-- Author Sherman Alexie, in the new documentary SonicGate

When your strongest weapon is hope, you're out of bullets. And that's the feeling NBA fans had in Seattle throughout the painful multi-year "teamectomy" they recently endured.

John Paxson
Howard Schultz, Clay Bennett, starring in How Not to Sell Your NBA Team 101.
(Jeff Reinking/NBAE/Getty Images)

SonicsGate (which is now viewable in its entirety for free online) is the movie that documents just about every step of that miserable process.

It's a documentary with a big four-part mission:

SonicsGate succeeds mightily at the first three. On the last point ... I don't know what the solution is, but in succeeding in pointing out that nearly everybody was wrong, it's hard not to wonder ... what would have been right?

Watching the documentary is (brace yourself, we're getting graphic) a bit like puking. There's an "aha" moment -- oh yeah, that's what my lunch tasted like the first time.

Even though I covered it pretty hard in real time, thankfully, I had forgotten many of the details of this whole endeavor. But SonicsGate snapped them right back into focus.

For instance, remember this series of e-mails among Thunder owners?

Tom Ward: Is there any way to move here [Oklahoma City] for next season or are we doomed to have another lame duck season in Seattle?"

Clay Bennett: "I am a man possessed! Will do everything we can. Thanks for hanging with me boys, the game is getting started!"

Tom Ward: "That's the spirit!! I am willing to help any way I can to watch ball here [in Oklahoma City] next year."

Aubrey McClendon: "Me too, thanks Clay!"

It's not alarming that these Oklahoma-based NBA fan/owners would be eager to have their NBA team move home. But at the time, the owners were bound by a signed agreement with the former owner, Howard Schultz to make a good faith effort to keep the team in Seattle.

So, when these e-mails were made public, Bennett actually had the nerve to claim (on video, in SonicsGate) that when he said he was a "man possessed" he was talking about being possessed with keeping the team in Seattle.

If the mainstream media has showed us someone lying more blatantly than this, I am not aware of it. Seeing it on video, I'm insulted once more. The documentary may have been worth it just to once again set up this all-time whopper.

If you don't have a strong stomach for that kind of thing, don't watch SonicsGate.

But if you do, by all means tune in for a tutorial in how badly the public can be treated by insiders and powerbrokers. You know the beginning, middle and end of the story, but there's a lot here you probably didn't know: