As a Portland institution, a point of pride, a civic treasure, the Blazers disappeared a long time ago. All that remains is a nasty little vaudeville act, stumbling about a half-empty arena, insulting our intelligence and posing as street-corner vagrants who need a curbside handout to get through the night.On the business side we had the Rose Garden debacle.
As a sports franchise, the Blazers are merely passive underachievers. As a business operation, this gang is breaking new ground in terms of cynicism and audacity.
That brings us back to the Rose Garden. Two years ago, Allen could afford to pay off the building's $193 million mortgage at least 100 times over, thus claiming permanent control of the revenue from luxury suites, courtside seats, concessions and parking.And on the sports side Duin gives us these examples:
Instead, Allen's holding company filed for bankruptcy. Asked at the time why Allen refused to make his mortgage payments, Patterson said, "Why should he?" Why should he, indeed, when he was deluded into thinking he would be able to buy the building back for 50 cents on the dollar.
Not even close. In the business world, those miscalculations happen; in Paul Allen's world, they're the rule, not the exception. In this billionaire's world, an imbecilic business move is just another excuse to plead poverty, a pathetic turn that succeeded only in eroding the last bit of sympathy this town retained for the management team.
But these guys don't have the sense God gave a goose when it comes to assembling a championship-caliber squad. As John Canzano, my intrepid colleague in sports, noted before the 2005 NBA draft, Wake Forest's Chris Paul was the obvious choice with the Blazers' No. 3 pick.Joe Canzano give us some more examples:
Allen, Patterson and general manager John Nash knew better. Eight months later, Paul is a shoo-in for rookie of the year, one of the league's top 16 players statistically and the cornerstone of a New Orleans franchise that would be lost without him. The Blazers are 18-35 and drawing flies in an empty barn.
Fate and the NBA lottery gift-wrapped this perennial all-star and set him on the Blazers' doorstep. The Paul Allen management team kicked Chris Paul to the curb, setting this truth in stone: They are incapable of fixing what ails them. Opportunity can't knock loudly enough. The team's most savage wounds are self-inflicted.
Let's see. Allen's new management team foolishly committed $167 million in long-term contracts to Zach Randolph, Darius Miles and Theo Ratliff. Then, in their era of re-branding team image, the Blazers drafted Sebastian Telfair. Then, the Blazers' top executive attempted to negotiate a backroom settlement with forward Miles after he berated his coach, stomping all over the franchise's 25-point pledge to change the team's image.Canzano gets it right.
Then the Blazers, with Allen's blessing, passed on rookie-of-the-year favorite Chris Paul, and failed to get a single asset in exchange for the valuable expiring contracts of Arvydas Sabonis, Damon Stoudamire, Nick Van Exel and Shareef Abdur-Rahim.
And leading to Thursday's trade deadline, with management negotiating the export of Miles to New York, it apparently was the bumbling, always-in-love-with-potential Allen who stood in the way of the deal.
Incidentally, as all of this was unfolding last week, Allen was in Turin, watching figure skaters fall down, a move he must relate to.
Instead of fanning up a smokescreen and posturing about needing public assistance, Allen should quit begging and today just grant every Blazers' fan biggest wish. Allen should sell the Blazers to a party capable and courageous enough to run the franchise. Someone with sound advisers and inspiring vision. Someone who would, above all, be accountable -- and present fans with a winning product that's worth the price of admission.Good bye Paul and if you take the Blazers with you it will be sad but saying good bye to you won't be. And yes, you Seahawks fans...watch out.