In a conference call this week, ESPN analyst Bill Walton said he’s not surprised the Sonics are leaving Seattle because the business model didn’t work. Walton returned to the network Thursday night after being sidelined 15 weeks with a painful back and neck injury.
“It’s sad for me because I love Seattle. I played my best basketball in my life as a Portland Trail Blazer. The rivalry we had with the Sonics and the great times we had in the wonderful city, to me it’s just sad. It’s also a business.
“The business had not been happening in Seattle. This is very much like the rules that govern the sport of basketball that everyone wants to change because of a poorly played game, or somebody can’t make free throws. If the business model is not working, you have to change the business model, and that appears to be what’s happening in Seattle. So while on a personal level it’s sad for me, I can certainly understand that the nature of the NBA is a business to make money. That has not been a productive model of late. But I remember when that was one of the truly great franchises in the league. And boy what a great city they have there!”
Walton spoke also highly of Oklahoma City as an NBA site after attending several Hornets’ games in the two seasons the team played at Ford Center.
“I was at their first game and I was at a number of other games and I had a tremendous time. It’s a great facility and you have tremendous local support, not only fans but the business community as well.”