PORTLAND, OREGON - Larry Weinberg, one of the founders and original owners of the Portland Trail Blazers, has died. He was 92.
His death was announced Wednesday by the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee.
Weinberg was one of three partners who got the franchise started as an NBA expansion team in 1970 to the tune of $3.7 million.
Weinberg, a veteran of World War II, real estate developer, and a pro-Israel activist, sold the team to the late Paul Allen in 1988 for $70 million. In a tweet the Trail Blazers said the team “was saddened to hear of the passing of our original owner.”
Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden said via Twitter that Weinberg was “a true mensch … and like many, I will mourn his passing.”
“Under Larry’s ownership, the Portland Trail Blazers became the best franchise in the NBA,” founding team president Harry Glickman said in a statement released by the team. “Larry was a Blazer booster all his life and appeared at many playoff games even after he sold the club. He was a fine gentleman. Personally, I worked with him closely and we became good friends, as well as owner and employee. Joanne and I extend our condolences to his wonderful family.”
Trail Blazers founding broadcaster Bill Schonely added: “Larry was truly a bright spot for our franchise, a gentleman’s gentleman as an owner and team executive. Whenever he was in the office, he made a special effort to always visit with employees. Larry was good to the Trail Blazers players and coaches, and someone we all admired.”
A jersey in Weinberg’s honor was hung up by the Blazers in the early 1990s, with his name and the No. 1 on it.
Michael Lewellen, the Trail Blazers vice president of communications, said Wednesday that “plans for an in-game recognition are still being developed.”
Funeral arrangements are pending.