Monday, April 28, 2008
Stern not ordered to testify in Sonics relocation case
NEW YORK -- NBA commissioner David Stern will not be ordered to testify in a case brought by the city of Seattle to try to keep the SuperSonics from moving, though a federal judge may consider ordering the testimony in the future.
U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska rejected most of the requests of the lawyers for the city of Seattle, saying she didn't think some of the information they were seeking from the NBA was necessary to press their claims.
Preska had been asked to decide what evidence the city can seek from the NBA before a June 16 trial in federal court in Seattle to decide whether the Sonics must complete the final two years of a lease agreement for Seattle's KeyArena, the NBA's smallest venue.
She said she would consider whether Stern must testify only after the city learns what it can from other witnesses.
Stern, attending a playoff game in Atlanta, was pleased with the ruling.
"I would rather spend my time working," he said. "But if the judge orders me to testify, I'll testify. We don't have anything to hide."
Preska also rejected a request by the city for the financial records of the 29 other NBA teams, calling it the city's "most intrusive request." NBA lawyer Jeffrey A. Mishkin said the league considered the financial information "highly proprietary."
Seattle officials filed a lawsuit in Seattle last year to keep the SuperSonics from leaving town. The city asked a judge to force the Sonics, the city's oldest professional sports franchise, to stay through the end of the lease, in 2010.
Stern has said the team will be moving to Oklahoma City either next season or in 2010 and he doesn't believe there's anything the city could do legally to stop it.
If the team can settle its lawsuit, NBA owners have overwhelmingly approved the SuperSonics' move to Oklahoma City for the 2008-09 season.
"Our first choice was to stay in Seattle in a new building," Stern said. "Everyone knew what was coming."