The Top 11: Seattle Sports Villains, #1

Our number one villain is much different than the other ten villains already on this list. While villains 11-2 are generally disliked and disdained, our number one villain will now and forever be out and out hated in Seattle. On the day our number one villain meets his maker, the only tears shed by Seattleites will be those of joy. This is a man who hijacked one of our city’s landmarks. He removed forty-one years of civic history and planted it in a city so foreign to many of us that it may as well be the outer reaches of hell. He lied. He cheated. He stole. He broke the hearts of many and erased memories that future generations will never get to have. A bad guy amongst bad guys, our number one villain is Clay Bennett.

Seattle was first introduced to Clayton Bennett on July 18, 2006. From the moment the two parties met, mutual tension embraced the relationship. We first laid eyes on each other when Bennett emerged stage left in the midst of a Howard Schultz press conference announcing the sale of the Sonics. Schultz the seller greeted Bennett the buyer, and with a handshake to seal the changing fate of our municipality, Seattle was doomed.

As soon as Bennett entered the room it was as if Satan himself had penetrated the gates of Heaven. We knew something was very wrong. Bennett was every evildoer from every movie we’d ever seen. A two-timer, a big business man who’d made his fortune doing things that most of us with consciences could never attempt. Plus he had the southern drawl and a vernacular unfamiliar to us. Here was Yosemite Sam on steroids, minus the mustache, guns ablazing ready to loot us for one of our most prized treasures.

Over the course of the next two years, Bennett would make empty promises in print and on local radio stations. He’d attempt to put together a half-assed plan for a new arena. He’d hire legendary Sonic Lenny Wilkens in a front-office capacity as a token gesture to the fans. He’d stand in front of the state legislature and bullshit his way through a series of fabrications about a plan to keep our team in this region permanently. See, it would be one thing if Clay-Clay and his boys waltzed in and took our team quickly and, in a relative sense, painlessly. But no, instead they felt the need to lead us on when we all knew what was coming. They took our legends and our memories, put them on a pedestal, and embarrassed them for all to see. They slowly destroyed our franchise from the inside out, making the team inaccessible to fans and media, replacing local broadcasters with Oklahomans, and putting a minor-league product on the court, all as means of distancing themselves from fans.

The second Clay Bennett purchased our team, it legally became his. He could have hightailed it to Oklahoma City right then and there. But instead he felt the need to prolong his act, to torture us with promises and guarantees, before ultimately executing the fan base of Seattle after his plan of deception had been completed. He had accomplices: David Stern and Howard Schultz, to name two. He had a victim: the city of Seattle. He had a well-thought out plan and a motive: to move the team to Oklahoma City. This was murder in the first-degree from a man capable of nothing less. Clay Bennett, a liar, a thief, a con artist, a killer, and Seattle’s number one villain in sports.

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