Sunday Musings: Chris Hansen, the Seattle SuperSonics and the video store dream

An empty video store (Photo: Creative Commons)

When I was 20, I almost bought a video store.  Remember those?  A rental shop filled with dusty movie boxes stuffed with cardboard, sitting on racks.  You could browse titles and when you made your selection, you’d bring the empty box to the counter and exchange it for a hard plastic case containing a VHS tape.

It was before the DVD age and long before RedBox or Netflix.

My partner in this venture was only slightly older than me and neither of us had much business experience.  But we were bright, energetic go-getters who thought we could take on the world, one movie rental at a time.

Unfortunately, the owner of the video store we negotiated with was struggling with health issues, which led to financial problems.  She had fallen behind in her lease and the doors to our dream store were dangerously close to being chained up by a property management company.

We got far enough into the process to negotiate a price to purchase the store along with its entire inventory.  It was a pie-in-the-sky venture, but again, we were too young to truly grasp what we were proposing to do.

Our only obstacle remaining was to convince the property management company that we were a good bet.  We got dressed up in our Sunday best and met the man in charge of the strip mall that housed our jewel of an investment.  We gave him the hard sell and without saying no, he asked us for a business plan.  When we didn’t have one, he suggested we come back to him in a week’s time with one.

Not that I like dating myself, but we didn’t know what a business plan was and this was at the very beginning of the “internet age”. So we set out to the public library to research how to put together a proper plan.  We found some basic information and got to work.

A week later, after spending close to a hundred hours writing a three to four page plan, we went back to the property manager plead our case.  He was extremely impressed with our efforts, but said he needed a few days to look over the deal.

The next day, our dreams of owning the store came to an end when the property manager called to inform us that he couldn’t give us a lease in the existing building due to a variety of issues with the former tenant.  He was cordial and very complimentary of our work.  He told us to keep in touch, which both my partner and I found strange.

A month went by and our phone rang.  It was the property manager on the line and he was wondering if we had progressed with our video store idea.  My partner and I were completely confused by the call.

We told the gentleman that we thought he couldn’t help us and that we had given up on the plan of owning and operating our very own piece of the American dream.

He was disappointed and we were stunned.  It seems that when he turned us down initially, he was actually trying to do us a favor.

The property manager was attempting to clean the slate for us by taking away huge amounts of pre-existing debt on the property and opening a door for us to buy the video store assets for pennies on the dollar.

We had no idea that this was the plan, but my partner and I learned a valuable lesson that day – sometimes a “no” really means “not yet”.

I believe that is what the NBA is currently trying to do with Chris Hansen and his group from Seattle.  However, it seems they have cotton balls stuffed in their ears and can’t hear the message.

The league is telling the multi-billionaire group that while they are very interested in having them in their club, this is the wrong team to attempt to buy.

The NBA still wants these guys in the league, but in order for that to happen, they need them to fall in line and wait for the right moment.  Trying to force their way into the league makes little to no sense.

But that time is quickly passing.  The Hansen group is trying to bully the relocation committee and the NBA.  They have planted a seed of doubt that the board is actually split on the decision and ready to buck David Stern.  While the vote went 7-0 in favor of Sacramento, a story out of Seattle suggested it was actually 4-3 and that the NBA forced the unanimous decision.  The league’s lead PR man, Tim Frank emphatically denied that notion to Sactown Royalty’s Tom Ziller.

“It’s a total fabrication,” Frank said.

So here we are.  Four days before the board of governors meet to decide the fate of the Kings and there is still massive chaos happening behind the scenes.  Hansen is refusing to accept that he isn’t going to get his version of our video store.  He is still looking for a way to force his way into a league instead of looking at the bigger picture.

This story is quickly turning from an “it’s not about you, it’s about Sacramento,” narrative, to a cautionary tale of a someone who doesn’t get the hint.  If Hansen is only concerned with it being about him, then the league will act accordingly.

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