There were two obvious culprits for the Seattle Supersonics leaving town to become the Oklahoma City Thunder. The first was new owner Clay Bennett, who had probably set events in motion to ensure the team would be willing and ready to relocate, and NBA commissioner David Stern for not blocking the relocation efforts.
One former employee of the Sonics doesn't point the finger at either of those two though. He instead looked in the other direction to the man who ended up selling the team to Bennett, Mr. Big Barista himself, Howard Schultz.
At Starbucks, the bulk of Schultz's employees were a commodity on the level of the coffee he sold. His automatons didn't make lattes and cappuccinos in the way of old Italian artisans; they were interchangeable cogs who pressed the buttons of machines on a drink assembly line. But NBA players aren't baristas, and NBA teams aren't cafés.
Schultz had deluded himself with the romantic ideal of the artisan. He preached that his shops were loci of community amid the American sprawl. Go into a Starbucks and you'll know that's not true. In the same way, he believed he could bend the economics and efficiencies of the NBA in his favor. For all the talk about caring, community, and investing in the team, things looked different on the inside. He nickel-and-dimed the club. He slashed bonuses to the sales staff. He made the team carry fewer players, paying to fill 12 roster spots instead of 13. He even raised prices in the office soda machine.
Indeed, it seems if Schultz had been more proactive in trying to get the Sonics to stick around instead of waiting around and hoping the city of Seattle would come flocking to him, Seattle would still have an NBA team and Sonics fans would be the ones cheering on the rise of Kevin Durant.