NEW YORK — In the judgment of billionaire Paul Allen, the last year of Steve Patterson’s contract as the Blazers president/alternate governor/GM did not merit being exercised. This further confirms why I’ll never be in position to make such weighty NBA decisions.
Clearly, I can’t fathom what signifies success and who deserves a gold star on the forehead.
When Patterson arrived in Portland several seasons ago to disinfect Bob Whitsitt’s toxic waste, the team was known nationwide as the Jail Blazers; its zealous fans and house organ (The Oregonian) had venomously turned on the town’s only leading men; the company had lost $130 million and the team had paid $45 million in luxury tax for ’02-’03; unemployment was at an all-time high 8 percent in the area; Allen’s privately funded Rose Garden was $15 million -$20 million behind publicly financed arenas of relatively the same size (Memphis, for instance) the moment it opened for business each campaign; and there was $11 million in busted stuff inside that needed to be repaired.
Today, following innumerable roster reshuffling, painful restructuring, renegotiation and massive layoffs, a bankruptcy in which the Rose Garden was turned over to bond-holders who soon realized losing money wasn’t funny and subsequently sold it back to Allen at a better property and ticket tax rate, the Blazers debt ($57.5 million salary cap in ’07) has vastly declined, while their youthful endowment was substantially upgraded.
Better yet, Zach Randolph, Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge, Jarrett Jack, Sergio Rodriguez, Martell Webster and Travis Outlaw have radically refurbished the team’s image.
After a shabby 21-win season they have regained the fans’ fervent rooting interest (despite the 26-36 record) by remaining competitive for all but a few quarters.
The economy is up, unemployment is down, the community is excited again and they’ve sold more tickets for next season after an 8 percent jump this season.
“It’s a difficult assignment to change the persona of the team and win. The challenges Steve faced were impossible,” John Nash, GM under Patterson for three years, wrote in an e-mail. “Certainly progress was made financially, yet the limitations of the market place and salary escalation over the last 10 years make Portland and every other small market a losing proposition.
“Check out Milwaukee, Memphis, Charlotte and Sacramento, to name a few. Local television revenue is not sufficient when added to the other revenue streams to pay the bills.
“Steve got the annual losses in Portland drastically reduced. Still, the prospects for significant improvement on the financial front are bleak. When the current youngsters (see above names) come up for contract extensions then it will get even worse.”
That’s the concern of the next (un-hired) regime.
Though winning in the stands and/or the standings doesn’t necessarily assure Allen’s approval. Pawns like Patterson serve at the pleasure of the owner.
Gaining the appreciation of the only person who matters is all that matters, whether or not it’s decipherable to any of us.
Losing three-quarters of a billion since buying the team entitles him to do as he chooses, I suppose.
So, when Patterson got the bad news he did what anybody with any pride would do, he resigned at once.
The most amazing, if not amusing, part of this inequality is that two Oregonian touch typists decided Patterson was responsible for practically everything negative and nearly nothing positive that happened during his tour.
If Patterson were making such command decisions, I suspect he would’ve taken the time to exercise the final year of his contract.
“Then again, had he sucked up to us more he would still have a job,” the more arrogant one decreed.
Didn’t I go over this Kobe move before?
Incidental Contact Bryant is so in denial, so innocent of everything, and so dazed of all charges!
Nevertheless, let’s give him his due; he is an equal-opportunity cheap-shot artist.
Regardless of whether Kobe’s off-target is from — Argentina (Manu Ginobili), Europe (Marko Jaric or Andres Biedrins), St. Croix (Raja Bell) or North America (Mike Miller, Bruce Bowen, Ray Allen), there’s no continental or racial overtones.