The past few weeks have been a rollercoaster, and I wanted to jot down a few thoughts in the wake of the BOG meeting.
First off, I was elated (just like everyone else) with the news of Burkle being on board and with the decision for a stay of execution by Stern.
Then, when pouring over the details of the meeting, I was admittedly was very frustrated with the comments made by Stern when he dismissed Burkle and a new ownership as being not a "high priority" at this point, and stating quite clearly that we had failed miserably at getting a new arena built.
And, when Clay Bennett was appointed the head of the relocation committee and Jerry Buss was removed from the committee entirely, I became clinically depressed.
My thinking was that we (and by "we" I mean KJ) had put forth a great proposal, and the basketball Gods (that have been so unforgiving in the past) were again conspiring against us. We had done everything we could to show we were a great basketball town, and it didn't matter. The OC had the corporate base and a more lucrative TV contract, so it didn't matter if your fan base was passionate. It didn't matter that we mobilized the "Here We Stay" movement so quickly and effectively. All that mattered was that we didn't have a new arena and, thus, we were screwed. Not only did LA break our hearts in 2002, but they were going to steal our team. Bastards!
But then I listened to the Rise Guys interview Sam Amick this morning, and Sam said something that made me stop and reconsider. He said the commissioners actions and comments on the surface didn't make sense. Case in point, downplaying Burkle (i.e., he's not a big priority, when billionaires obviously are always a big priority), and stating that if the move to Anaheim made sense, it didn't matter what the Lakers and Clippers thought (when obviously, it matters a great deal what the Lakers and Buss thinks). He then proceeded to say that if they vote down the move, the Maloof's would have a field day in court if it looked like the league was keeping them from moving and hadn't explored and exhausted every option.
Therefore, there is two ways of looking at the proceedings: One) That Stern is stacking the deck against us by putting Clay Bennett on the committee, and acting less than interested in Burkle's involvement, or Two) that he is creating the appearance that the league gave the Maloof's every opportunity to get this move completed for the sole purpose of protecting the league in court.
I think Stern is very smart and very calculating, but I don't know if he is this smart and calculating. Obviously though, the Bennett move (and Buss demotion) seems very political and overtly Pro-Maloof, so much so that it raised eyebrows all over the Internet. However, it certainly takes away the argument (if an Anaheim move is turned down) that Buss railroaded the process. Also telling is the fact that Buss didn't make a peep about the switch. Lastly, I love the body language of the Maloofs as they tried to leave the BOG meeting. It was apparent they were annoyed, pissed and flustered (as they struggled to find their car). I would love to know what was said inside those closed doors to "the Boys."
I may be reading way too far into this, but I think the Bennett appointment could be a positive, and this is Stern laying the groundwork for a "no" vote. It would be great if the league decided to give up on the Maloofs as owners rather than Sacramento as a basketball market.