Best Villain

Clay Bennett

Clay Bennett was giddy with anticipation. The lyin', franchise-stealin' owner of Oklahoma City's professional basketball team watched his Thunder—the former Seattle Sonics—win the Western Conference finals this year, then set his greedy eyes on the National Basketball Association championship. Bennett relished the possibility that, having stolen Seattle's team (with the co-conspiratorial assist of Howard Schultz), he could rub it in a little more by beating Miami and taking the franchise back to the pinnacle the Supes had reached in 1979. Seattle hoop fans, suddenly forced to pick their villains, threw their support behind the Heat's LeBron James, helping make Washington and Florida the only two states cheering for a Miami win. As it turned out, Bennett had to settle for that Western title, as the Heat beat OKC in five games. Even better: Seeing the Clayman on TV after the final NBA title game—glumly patting the backs of his defeated players as they filed into the locker room—Sonics fans again had something to whoop about. RICK ANDERSON

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