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Originally published May 28, 2008 at 12:00 AM | Page modified June 16, 2008 at 12:33 PM


Take a closer look at the Sonics case

Transcripts of several depositions in Seattle's lawsuit against the Sonics were recently released by Seattle City Attorney Tom Carr's office in response to public-disclosure requests.

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Transcripts of several depositions in Seattle's lawsuit against the Sonics were released by Seattle City Attorney Tom Carr's office recently in response to public-disclosure requests.

The city is seeking to enforce the Sonics' KeyArena lease through September 2010. Trial is scheduled for June 16.

The depositions, and some highlights, include:

• Sonics co-owner Aubrey McClendon was grilled by Seattle's attorneys on his e-mails suggesting owners always intended to move the team despite promises to try and get an arena deal done in Seattle. During the deposition, another e-mail emerged from August 2007, when McClendon told co-owner Clay Bennett, "the truth is we did buy it [the Sonics] with the hope of moving to Oklahoma City."
McClendon deposition transcripts (PDF)

• Wally Walker, former Sonics president and part-owner, was questioned this month about his role in assembling a potential local ownership group led by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. Walker portrayed Ballmer as a reluctant Sonics savior. "He had no strong interest to be an NBA owner," Walker said.
(Only a portion of Walker's deposition has been released.)
Walker deposition transcripts (PDF)

• Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels and Deputy Mayor Tim Ceis were questioned by Sonics lawyers on whether the team's departure from Seattle would have any lasting impact and on city efforts to force Bennett to sell the team to Ballmer.
Nickels deposition transcripts (PDF)
Ceis deposition transcripts (PDF)

• Oklahoma City Manager James Couch repeatedly denied conspiring with Sonics owners to move the team.
Couch deposition transcripts (PDF)

• Brent Gooden an Oklahoma public-relations consultant to Bennett, described media coverage in Seattle as "venomous."
Gooden deposition transcripts (PDF)

• Sonics President Daniel Barth was asked about the team's finances, including lagging ticket sales.
Barth deposition transcripts vol. 1 (PDF)
Barth deposition transcripts vol. 2 (PDF)

• Bennett was deposed, but virtually all of his deposition was marked "confidential" by his attorneys and withheld from public disclosure. An e-mail from Bennett is revealed in Gooden's deposition. In that e-mail, from spring 2007, Bennett responds to Sonics players' complaints about a possible move to Oklahoma City with "boo hoo."

• Other depositions: Seattle City Councilmembers Nick Licata and Richard Conlin, City Council aide Christa Valles, Seattle Center Director Robert Nellams and Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce President Roy Williams.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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