A lot of real obvious candidates here. It’s just a matter of organizing them in the proper order.
I, along with many of you, have Howard Schultz smack dab at the top of this list. In fact, I would have to say – even though it’s been nearly five years since the team moved, and even though it’s been nearly seven years since he sold the team to those OKC goons – that Howard Schultz is Public Enemy Number 1 (regardless of sport) in the Most Hated Seattle Sports Figure list.
Really quick, my top 5 looks like this: 1. Schultz, 2. Behring, 3. Lincoln & Armstrong, 4. Bennett, 5. Bavasi
Easy, right? For the record, Lincoln & Armstrong are a package deal; they have morphed into this singular blob of incompetence. Also for the record, Ruskell is a close 6th on that list. My most hated PLAYER is and might always be Richie Sexson, because I’m irrational like that.
Anyway, getting back, I think it should be obvious why Schultz heads this list. He’s the worst. THE. WORST. First, let’s just get this out of the way: he had NO BUSINESS getting involved with the NBA. He should have just stuck with his season tickets and his corporate sponsorships and been happy with that. He didn’t have the stomach to properly run the organization; instead, he tried to run it like a business. This isn’t Starbucks, this is sports. It’s a completely different ballgame (so to speak). If your goal is to buy a team and try to turn a profit every year, then congratulations, you’re the Seattle Mariners. You go forever without winning, you scale back payroll, you trade away your superstars for nothing, and you do just enough to turn a small profit every year (which, hey, beats losing money).
If your goal is to run a winning franchise, then guess what? You can’t be all-consumed by the money coming in. Turning a profit can’t be goal #1. It’s got to be a residual from sustained success.
The Seattle Supersonics, as far back as I can remember, were a well-oiled machine. Yeah, they’d have some down years, but they’d bounce right back and be contenders in short order. That includes a lot of the 70s, most of the 80s, and most of the 90s. Then, Howard Schultz bought the team in January of 2001. In the five full seasons the Sonics were owned by Schultz, they made the playoffs twice: once as a 7th seed and once as a 3-seed. Both times, they lost to a far superior franchise, the San Antonio Spurs. In the other seasons, the Sonics ended up 10th, 11th, and 12th in the West.
Schultz was involved with a controversial trade of Gary Payton. He also let head coach (and Mr. Sonic) Nate McMillan walk (over to Portland where he coached the hell out of a mostly-mediocre team). He did battle with the local & state governments over getting financing for a new arena, but once that failed he essentially threw up his hands and gave up.
Schultz had no interest in keeping the Sonics in Seattle. If he had, he wouldn’t have sold them to a group that so clearly wanted to move the team out of state. He can sit there and pretend he had “no idea”; he can cry out about how they “misrepresented” themselves when they purchased the team; but if he’s being honest then he’s the biggest fucking moron the world has ever known.
Here’s the thing: Schultz isn’t being honest when he gripes about how he was duped (along with the rest of Seattle). I’d like to point out that from the moment this deal was made, I knew those fucks from OKC would do everything in their power to move this team. If I know that, and I’m just some yahoo fan with a pottymouth, then Howard Schultz sure as shit knew that too. He just didn’t care. All he cared about was receiving $350 million for a team he paid $200 million to acquire five and a half years earlier.
And that’s all you need to know about the Howard Schultz Era. He was a greedy old man who let the Sonics move away. He ran the team like a business, but not like a business he gave two shits about. He ran this team like Ken Lay ran Enron. Schultz may not have faced decades in prison, but he probably should. If I had it my way, he’d be rotting in prison until the Sonics return to Seattle, but that’s neither here nor there.
If we’re jumping on the whole Sonics leaving Seattle saga, I’d rank former Seattle mayor Greg Nickels number two on this list. That spineless weasel forced an agreement down our throats letting those OKC fucks take the team while the city received $45 million in return for the last two years of the KeyArena lease. Had we forced them to honor those final two years, who’s to say what might have happened? But, he was never officially a member of the Sonics organization, so fuck Greg Nickels.
Truth be told, I hate Clay Bennett’s puppetmaster – David Stern – far more than Mr. Bennett himself, but we’re sticking with a theme here of people specifically related to the Sonics organization. Clay Bennett’s a rat bastard, to be sure, and when all is said and done I’d like to know what kind of buttfucking arrangement he has with Stern to make them so buddy-buddy; his blowjobs must be SOMETHING ELSE. As such, now he does whatever David Stern says, essentially making them both one and the same.
It takes a lot of work to keep up a lie for so long. Bennett bought the team in July of 2006. Nearly two years went by before we finally got the official word that his intentions all along were to move the team to OKC; and even then, “official word” came in the form of e-mails to his cronies that were uncovered in the days & weeks leading up to the team leaving. To the bitter end, Bennett affirmed his bullshit, and he has been rewarded with one of the best and most exciting teams in the NBA today. There is no justice in this world if that team ever wins a championship.
From what I’ve been told, Wally Walker has been instrumental in the behind-the-scenes efforts to bring the team back to Seattle. Also, from what I’ve been told, Wally Walker was dead-set against selling to those OKC fucks in the first place. Nevertheless, Wally Walker appears on this list, because his tenure as GM of the Sonics was rocky at best. You can’t have a Most Hated list without having a few GMs appear first.
For the record, yeah, Walker has been instrumental in working with Hansen & Ballmer, but he was also instrumental in getting Howard Schultz to be our primary owner in the first place to start this whole fucking mess. It’s complicated with Wally Walker; he tries his fucking best, but God bless him, in the end he’s just a fuck up who can’t seem to ever get things right.
He joined the Sonics in 1994, right as this team was on its rise to the elite of the NBA. In 1996, the Sonics were in the Finals, losing to the greatest team of all time, the 1996 Chicago Bulls. From that moment, this franchise started on its long, slow decline to mediocrity, and it all starts with the next name on this list: Jim McIlvaine.
Jim McIlvaine was signed to a 7-year, $33.6 million deal in July of 1996. To that point, Jim McIlvaine had been a worthless pile of crap. He would go on to continue being a worthless pile of crap. So, not only was he overpaid and useless, but he also served as a reminder that this ownership group – and this general manager in particular – would rather reward potential from outside the organization than reward the superstars already IN this organization. Shawn Kemp was resentful and rightly demanded a new contract. He was denied, so less than a year after signing McIlvaine, Kemp demanded a trade. Just before the 1997/1998 season, Shawn Kemp was traded for the NEXT name on this list: Vin Baker.
One could argue that the Sonics dodged a bullet by trading away Shawn Kemp. He went on to Cleveland, sat on his ass during the Lockout, got fat, and was never the same. One could also argue that had the Sonics rewarded their budding superstar, he would’ve been kept in shape and kept in line by team leader, Gary Payton. In Cleveland, Kemp was the big kahuna, and nobody was going to tell him what to do. There was veteran leadership in Seattle that could’ve prevented such a fate.
Oh yeah, by the way, don’t forget that Vin Baker also sat on his ass during the Lockout, also got fat, and was a huge drunk to boot. So, why didn’t this veteran leadership keep HIM in line like I’m saying they would’ve kept Kemp in line? I dunno, probably because you can’t rationalize with a fucking alcoholic! Also, probably because you have to have the Want To in order to succeed. Vin Baker lacked that passion, that drive. He took his solace in a bottle and that’s all there is to it.
Mind you, this chain of events all started with Wally Walker meddling with a good thing, then bungling things away. More often than not, Walker made moves just to make moves. Sometimes, you just need to let a team settle and grow on its own. You don’t have to keep adding and subtracting to make things JUST RIGHT. Just leave it be and hope things shake out as best as they can! If it ain’t broke, don’t fucking fix it!
Any number of bumbling big man buffoons could also make this Most Hated list (Calvin Booth, Jerome James, Robert Swift, Johan Petro, Mouhamed Sene), but that would ignore the real problem with the Sonics at the turn of the century: Rick Sund. Remember him? God, I wish I didn’t. Rick Sund took over for Wally Walker (as Walker was promoted to president or some damn thing) in 2001 and proceeded over one of the longest stretches of ineptitude in team history.
Seemingly every year, this team needed a big man. Seemingly every year, this team went after a big man, either spending an ungodly amount of money in free agency, or by squandering a high draft pick. Seemingly every year, this team failed to bring in a big man of any quality, and so seemingly every year this team struggled under Rick Sund.
Finally, there’s a name on this list I won’t ever forget. Kendall Gill. Back when Bob Whitsitt was still in charge, he traded a number of quality supporting players (Dana Barros, Eddie Johnson) to the Charlotte Hornets for Kendall Gill. In his previous two years, Gill averaged 20.5 and 16.9 points per game. We brought him in to be our starting shooting guard next to Gary Payton. As chance would have it, he arrived on the scene in 1993/1994, as the Sonics had the best record in the Western Conference. We would go on to lose in the first round to the Denver Nuggets. The very next season, this team would make the playoffs again, and once again it would lose in the first round.
I’m not blaming it ALL on Kendall Gill, but he sure as shit was not a good fit for this team. I don’t think it’s a coincidence at all that as soon as he was traded (back to Charlotte for Hersey Hawkins and David Wingate in June of 1995), the Sonics would go on to make a run to the NBA Championship.
Gill didn’t get along with coaches or teammates. He was a ballhog who shot too much. Oh yeah, and he SUCKED DICK. He immediately saw a dip in his scoring average (14.1 and 13.7 points per game in a Sonics uniform). His pissy attitude didn’t endear him to Seattle fans either. In short, Kendall Gill was a worthless dickhole and I can’t believe he managed to have such a sustained NBA career, considering what a joke he was.