the seattle nba supersonic team played in the league since 1967, until it was renamed the oklahoma city thunder in 2008. this week’s last dance featured the 1995-96 supersonic team with stars like Gary Payton. However, after the episodes aired, fans took to Twitter to ask “what happened to the Seattle Jetsons?” and ‘when did the sounds move to okc?’
The team is the third NBA franchise to move in the 2000s and several lawsuits were filed on its behalf prior to the 2008-09 NBA season. here’s what happened to the seattle supersonics and when did the sonics move to okc.
Reading: What happened to the supersonics
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when did the sonics move to okc? what happened to the seattle supersonics?
In July 2006, Aubrey McClendon, his Chesapeake Energy co-founder Tom Ward, and Clayton Bennett entered into a deal to purchase the Seattle Supersonics NBA team (along with the WNBA Storm) from Starbucks founder Howard Schultz, for 350 million dollars. In a letter written to Schultz, Bennett stated that they did not want to relocate either team and were willing to stay in Seattle if they could “negotiate an attractive successor location and lease agreement.” the group was in negotiations with the city of renton in washington, but the washington legislature did not put up any taxpayer money in 2007.
According to emails shared between bennett, ward and clendon, they were happy the team was moving to oklahoma. in an oklahoma journal-record article, mclendon stated that they bought the team so they could move it to okc, as it could be great for the community despite being a bit ‘financially difficult’.
although mcclendon was truthful, then nba commissioner david stern let bennett know there would be a ‘big fine’ for him. In an email to McClendon on August 13, 2007, Bennett was concerned about the legal implications his statement might have had and undermined his basic premise of ‘good faith best efforts’. While Stern and Bennett cleared things up between themselves since Stern still had faith in him, the NBA Commissioner fined McClendon $250,000.
A year later, Schultz filed a lawsuit over the 2006 sale. He wanted to sell the equipment to a group that wanted to keep the sounds in Seattle. The city of Seattle also sued the group because they wanted the team to play there for two more years.
However, when the lawsuits were filed, oklahoma city voters had approved $120 million in tax incentives to help develop their downtown stadium along with the construction of a new facility. A 15-year lease was negotiated between the Sonics and Mick Cornett, who is a former newscaster. OKC later threatened Schultz with a lawsuit if he tried to block or impede the deal.
dropped his lawsuit in 2008 because he thought showing everyone that the bennett group lied wasn’t enough. The move to Oklahoma helped the team, as the team’s value jumped from $268 million to $329 million in 2011.
what happened to the seattle supersonics? highlights of the nba jetsons
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The supersonic mascot was named ‘squatch’. Between the mascot’s debut in 1993 and the team’s relocation in 2008, Squatch appeared in more than 175 events per year. After the team moved to OKC, the character was retired and is now part of Seattle’s IP following the lease agreement. The character’s performer, Marc Taylor, now acts as Thunder’s ‘Rumble the Bison’, as his contract continued after the relocation.
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