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Hostility toward Stern is understandable but pointless

By Danny O’Neil

So David Stern’s kind of a jerk?

You don’t say.

This is not exactly some sort of revelation, yet that didn’t stop people across Seattle from spending a full day piling up adjectives to describe just how classless the NBA commissioner was toward Seattle in the wake of the league’s decision Wednesday to deny a bid for relocation by the Sacramento Kings.

In case you missed it, after a 22-8 vote, Stern stepped to the podium for what he said would be a brief press conference.

David Stern’s reference to the Oklahoma City Thunder was classless and unnecessary, but it wasn’t surprising. (AP)

“I have a playoff game to get to in Oklahoma City,” Stern said.

Yep, it was as tacky as it sounds, and whether it was deliberate or not, that reference to the franchise formerly known as the Sonics understandably added insult to Seattle’s injury when it learned Chris Hansen’s bid to buy and move the Kings was being turned down.

It’s understandable Stern would become a target for our city’s animosity, but it’s also pretty pointless because it’s focused on a man who was not only already disliked in Seattle, but now will officially have nothing to do with the NBA’s future here.

Did this change your opinion of Stern? It might have inflamed your dislike of him. Maybe it even enraged you. But when you get down to it, after the past month in which Stern clearly shepherded Sacramento’s attempts to keep the team, what exactly surprised you about Stern coming off as Seattle’s antagonist?

Yet the opening of his press conference has been treated as some sort of unmasking where Stern revealed his true intentions. A veritable Scooby-Doo moment where the monster’s mask is pulled off to show the old caretaker Mr. Stern, who would have gotten away with it if it weren’t for those darn kids.

This isn’t to excuse Stern’s behavior, and it’s certainly not to apologize for it. He is exactly who I thought he was. Rude. Condescending. Hypocritical. After all, he advocated for Sacramento’s right as an incumbent in a way he never did for Seattle five years ago.

But did any of that really change your opinion of him? Instead, his actions and the words “Oklahoma City” combined to create a race to pile up as many derogatory adjectives as possible to detail just how loathsome the commissioner was.

The trouble is that dialogue is pretty limited.

It doesn’t answer the best path to follow in putting an NBA team back in the market or even whether that’s a plan the city and its prospective ownership group want to pursue.

Instead, the day after the decision was spent on a city-wide diatribe against a commissioner who will be gone next February. That’s not to say the hostility isn’t understandable or perhaps even warranted, but what purpose is it serving other than to vilify a man who’s already vilified?

There were already plenty of reasons for Seattle to dislike Stern before he stepped to a podium to announce our city’s latest NBA setback and began by referencing its former franchise.

Maybe he did so that his successor, Adam Silver, can look good in comparison. Maybe he did it without thinking out how the reference to Oklahoma City would be perceived in Seattle. And maybe he did it because he wanted one last final needle to the city his league has forsaken once again.

Ultimately, what do his motivations matter going forward? He’ll be out before Seattle is back in the NBA, and while anger is one of the seven stages of grief, it’s not exactly the best way to make progress.