Schultz: Gimme the Sonics back

I know I’ve been saying that anything can happen as the NBA nears a vote on the Seattle Sonics‘ proposed move to Oklahoma City, but I still didn’t expect this: Former Sonics owner (and Starbucks CEO) Howard Schultz has announced that he’s suing to reverse his 2006 sale of the team to a group of Oklahoma businessmen, on the grounds that they lied when they promised to make a good-faith effort to keep the team in town. Schultz’ lawyer Richard Yarmuth told the Seattle Times:

“The theory of the suit is that when the team was sold, the Basketball Club of Seattle, our team here, relied on promises made by Clay Bennett and his ownership that they desired to keep the team in Seattle and intended to make a good-faith effort to accomplish that.”

While a former owner suing to rescind a two-year-old sale seems – what’s the legal term? – insane, Bennett and Co. apparently did sign a side letter to their purchase agreement promising to honor the team’s lease through 2010 and to use their best efforts to work out a new arena deal in Seattle, neither of which, it’s now clear, they’ve done. Though it’s always possible Schultz’ move is more a p.r. gesture to try to get people drinking his coffee again, it could make for an even more interesting NBA owners’ vote on Friday.


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