7. Nonsensical Team Relocations
Under Stern’s watch, the league has had several embarrassing franchise relocations—most notably those of the Grizzlies, Hornets, and Sonics. Why are they embarrassing? Well, in general, it’s not good to have teams moving all around. You want stability, because it’s hard to build a fan base if people just think the team’s going to move as soon as the going gets tough anyway. But sometimes you need to move a team and there’s nothing that can be done. In those cases, you at least want to move a team to a betterlocation than they were in before. And this is problem with the league’s most recent moves.
The Grizzlies moved from Vancouver, a big city with over 2 million people, to Memphis, a small city with a sprawling population and no history of supporting major pro sports teams.
The Hornets moved from basketball-mad North Carolina because people in NC hated owner George Shinn, but he wouldn’t sell the team. So they moved to New Orleans, then Shinn sells the team—but to the league, because nobody in New Orleans wants to buy them. Of course, in the meantime, the league put a new expansion team in Charlotte. Why not have him sell the team to the league while they were in Charlotte? Because that would have made sense.
Last but not least, we have the case of the Seattle Sonics. Inexplicably, David Stern supported the move of this franchise from the nation’s 14th largest market to the nation’s 45th largest market, Oklahoma City.