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Schultzs Sonics suit is just PR

Fair Game
by: , SCHULTZ

So Howard Schultz is preparing a lawsuit against Clay Bennett in an effort to rescind the July 2006 sale of the Seattle SuperSonics.

Schultz says he wants the Sonics back. He says Bennett and his ownership group promised that they hoped to keep the team in Seattle. Schultz never dreamed Bennett would move the Sonics to his hometown, Oklahoma City, Okla., which had housed the vagabond New Orleans Hornets for two seasons.

Sure. And you must also believe that Starbucks is going to drop its price for a venti chai latte from $3.70 to $1.

Schultz sold the Sonics for the inflated price of $350 million when he could have gotten $275 million from a Seattle group. That's a seller's prerogative.

But don't claim now that you thought Bennett would honor the KeyArena lease that runs through 2010 and do everything he could to keep the franchise in Seattle.

Partner Aubrey McClendon's comments to the Business Journal of Oklahoma City last August, along with e-mails obtained by the city of Seattle in anticipation of a June 16 lawsuit to hold the Sonics to the remaining two seasons of the lease, prove otherwise.

Schultz's threatened lawsuit is merely posturing, a blatant PR move to save face among the citizenry of Seattle, which is going to lose a franchise it deserves to retain.

NBA Commissioner David Stern, upset that the city of Seattle didn't approve public funding for a new arena, has backed Bennett all along the way through this fiasco. Stern ought to be ashamed.

• Good news for Oregon State fans: KPAM (860 AM) has received approval from the Federal Communications Commission to boost the station's nighttime signal from 5 kilowatts to 15 kilowatts. The increase of power, combined with antenna gain at night, will enhance the station's reach in the metro area and the Willamette Valley.

Construction with new equipment necessary for the signal enhancement will start in early summer and should be completed by mid-September, according to Paul Clithero, general manager for Pamplin Broadcasting, which is owned by the same company as the Portland Tribune.

• Oregon State's baseball series finale at Arizona State on Sunday was joined in progress by KUIK (1360 AM) after its NASCAR programming. If there is anything better than auto racing in person, it has to be listening to it on the radio.

It's the final year of KUIK's contract, thank goodness. Beaver baseball moves to KPAM next spring.

Jay Allen, the KXL (750 AM) sports director who hosted the Blazers' post-game show this season, maintains an appropriate air of levity, often poking fun at broadcast partners Antonio Harvey and Michael Holton. After kidding around with Harvey on a late-season broadcast, Allen directed a good-natured barb in the direction of radio play-by-play voice Brian Wheeler.

'We're 76 games into the season,' Allen cracked. 'We can't start taking ourselves too seriously now. Wheels does that for all of us.'

James Allen is back in Oregon for a visit, and he might be staying.

The former New Orleans Saints linebacker from Jefferson High and Oregon State wants to get his degree and intends to enroll at OSU this fall.

Allen's NFL career lasted only four years. It was cut short by surgeries to both knees. He retains homes in both Georgia and Louisiana but could wind up back in Oregon, where he would be close to 5-year-old son, Jontae, who lives in Beaverton.

'Georgia's nice, but I'm kind of missing home,' Allen says. 'My roots are here. I'm about 30 hours short of graduating; then I probably will go into coaching. I have a lot of knowledge to pass on to young kids.'

Kenny Klotz made his 2008 debut a good one Saturday, winning the 5,000 meters in 14 minutes, 10.7 seconds to help the University of Oregon rout UCLA 94-69 in a dual meet at Hayward Field.

A week earlier, Duck coach Vin Lananna said he was leaning toward redshirting the sophomore from Central Catholic.

'I guess I'm not redshirting,' says Klotz, the state 1,500 and 3,000 champion in 2006 and the U.S. junior 10,000 titlist a year ago. 'I was told at the beginning of the season I probably would (redshirt), but if I'm ready to go, it's better to go. And this way, I can save a redshirt year in case of injury.'

Klotz hopes to qualify for the NCAA championships in the 5,000 and meet the Olympic trials B standard of 13:48 in the event this spring. He expects to run his first competitive outdoor mile Saturday at the Oregon Relays. He ran 4:04 indoors at Seattle this winter.

• The major talent Lananna said probably would redshirt is Matthew Centrowitz, son of Matt Centrowitz, the All-American at Oregon in the late '70s and two-time Olympian.

'He looks great,' Lananna says of the freshman from Arnold, Md., the 2007 Pan American Games Junior 1,500 champion. 'You're always torn whether to redshirt someone, but we're really loaded with talented runners. (Redshirting) is probably in (Centrowitz's) long-term best interest.'

• Maybe Art Venegas was merely playing P.T. Barnum, but the UCLA track and field coach came across as a bit ungracious in guaranteeing victory next year in Eugene after getting undressed by the Ducks on an inclement weather afternoon.

'If this meet were to be at UCLA, I think we would beat them pretty good,' said Venegas, who held out a few athletes, including Pac-10 110 hurdles leader Kevin Craddock, due to the weather. 'Next year, we will take it to the Ducks with no mercy shown. Nobody will be held out. We will go no matter what the weather.'

Maybe Venegas can work out a deal where they don't keep score if the thermometer falls below 50 degrees.

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