SEATTLE -- After nearly four months of awaiting a decision on the return of professional basketball, Seattle was left Wednesday feeling jilted again.
And wondering when, and if, the NBA will ever reappear.
The NBA Board of Governors rejected the prospective relocation of the Sacramento Kings, voting 22-8 in Dallas to deny the move of the franchise and with no promise of a future team for fans in the Puget Sound region.
That led to angry and frustrated reactions from NBA fans in Seattle who spent several months thinking they might see the return of the SuperSonics with investor Chris Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer as owners.
"I share the disappointment of Sonics fans about today’s vote. But we are in this for the long haul," Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn said. "The memorandum of understanding we have with Chris Hansen is for five years, and we will continue working to bring the NBA back to Seattle."
Fans of the league and supporters of Hansen’s efforts believed this was the best opportunity to bring the NBA back. Political and public support was at its peak since the messy and ugly departure of the Sonics for Oklahoma City following the 2008 season.
Now all that support is thrown back into limbo with little clarity about a future path toward acquiring another franchise.
"This was not an anti-Seattle vote, but a pro-Sacramento vote," NBA Commissioner David Stern said.
If there is hope for Seattle fans, it came from NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver, who indicated that expansion was discussed for the future.
The league is beginning the process of negotiations for its next national television contract and Silver indicated that once the league has an idea of what revenue could be coming from that future deal, expansion could be back in the picture.
"We’ve never wavered in our desire to return to the Seattle market at some point," Silver said. "... Expansion was discussed at least as a possibility down the road. We want to wait and see what happens in our next national television negotiation but we’re very appreciative of the fans in Seattle, as we always were. We regretted leaving the market. ... We fully expect we will return there one day."