SEATTLE -- The NBA has fined Seattle SuperSonics co-owner
Aubrey McClendon $250,000 for comments he made two weeks ago that
his group didn't buy the team to keep it in Seattle.
League spokesman Mark Broussard in New York confirmed the
penalty Thursday morning, but said he did not immediately know the
reason the fine was imposed. The comments of McClendon, an Oklahoma
City energy tycoon, were at odds with commissioner David Stern's
stated hope of keeping the Sonics in the city they've called home
for all 40 years of their existence.
McClendon is one of four original partners with Clay Bennett in
Professional Basketball Club LLC, the Oklahoma group that purchased
the Sonics and WNBA's Storm for $350 million in July, 2006. This
month, McClendon told an Oklahoma City publication that the group
has always hoped to move the NBA franchise to Oklahoma, but he
acknowledged the team could make more money in the Pacific
"But we didn't buy the team to keep it in Seattle; we hoped to
come here," McClendon, chief executive of Chesapeake Energy, told
The Journal Record in Oklahoma. "We know it's a little more
difficult financially here in Oklahoma City, but we think it's
great for the community and if we could break even, we'd be
The ownership group has set a deadline of Oct. 31 to secure an
agreement for a new arena in the Seattle area. If a deal is not in
place by then, Bennett has said will begin the league's process of
relocation the Sonics to Oklahoma City.
McClendon's fine is comparable to those the NBA has assessed to
Mark Cuban, the outspoken owner of the Dallas Mavericks. Cuban was
fined twice during the 2006 playoffs, with the league penalizing
him $250,000 after his outbursts during the league finals, when he
yelled toward a referee and later toward Stern.
Cuban, who says he matches every dollar with a charitable
donation, was fined $500,000 -- at the time the most against one
person in the NBA -- in January 2002 for comments that included
saying he wouldn't hire the league's head of officiating to manage
a Dairy Queen.
A spokesman for McClendon at Chesapeake Energy said Thursday
from Oklahoma City that McClendon's fine by the NBA is not a
company issue and referred questions to the Sonics' ownership
"We respectfully decline to comment further about this
matter," said Brent Gooden, a spokesman for Professional
Bennett and McClendon tried to calm the furor in Seattle the day
after McClendon's comments were published. They issued a joint
statement that called McClendon's comments his "personal
thoughts." Bennett said McClendon was "not speaking on behalf of
the ownership group."
"It is my hope we will see a breakthrough in the next 60 days
that will result in securing a new arena for the Sonics and Storm
in the Greater Seattle area," Bennett said, though even he
acknowledges no breakthrough is on the horizon.
McClendon said he, Bennett and others in the ownership group
became interested in purchasing an NBA team after the New Orleans
Hornets temporarily relocated to Oklahoma City for two seasons
after Hurricane Katrina.
"We started to look around, and at that time the Sonics were
going through some ownership challenges in Seattle," McClendon
told the newspaper. "So Clay, very artfully and skillfully, put
himself in the middle of those discussions and to the great
amazement and surprise to everyone in Seattle, some rednecks from
Oklahoma, which we've been called, made off with the team."