Mike Hustad's Blog

Mike Hustad

Dec 20

Paul Allen Changed His Career and Legacy for the Better Monday Night

By Mike Hustad Posted in: ArmonJohnson, Blazers, ElliotWilliams, geraldwallace, GregOden, LaMarcusAldridge, LukeBabbitt, MarcusCamby, NicolasBatum, WesleyMatthews

    "Paul Allen is so all about the Seahawks it's impossible for him to care about the Blazers or the fans. It's been that way for years, even during the JailBlazer days. He should not have let that go on. Not have had corrupt Bob Whitsitt be GM for so long and I don't think, under Allen's helm, anyone is safe. So watch out Miller, Cho and all others...And, Watch out Portland-Oregon, because Allen is going to throw our team away."

Portland played championship contender caliber basketball last Monday night at the Rose Garden against Utah, but the first person in the Blazer organization to set the tone for the beginning of the season that night was not one of the players; it was not one of the coaches - it was the Owner, Paul Allen, for the first time in his 23+ year tenure as Owner of the Trail Blazer franchise. 

The quote at the top of this story is in response to Jason Quick's article reviewing Paul Allen's 30+ minute sitdown with several members of the local media.  It caught my attention because it perfectly captures - maybe not always to such an extreme degree - the seemingly general attitude of the fanbase and media towards Allen over the years.  Frankly, count me as one of them that questioned his leadership. 

But last Monday night's extraordinarily candid and revealing talk with the media (as well as his new memoir, "Idea Man") opened my eyes about the man that saved both the Seattle Seahawks and Trail Blazers from leaving their beloved fan bases in the dust.  Allen finally opened up and gave the media and the fans what they wanted, something he hasn't done for almost two years.

I recently hung a picture in my new, beloved bachelor pad that says "Great things happen in very small moments."  I am a firm believer in that type of wisdom.  Allen answering questions for the media for 30 minutes might seem like a nice news story that goes away in a couple days (as it has for the most part), but Allen finally did the right thing, no matter how small it was.

Allen clearly doesn't like the attention and media scrutiny.  He is uncomfortable being shown on the video board hanging above the court. In fact, it is not allowed.  He is followed around by security and is generally considered to be a less than fan-friendly owner, almost as if he just doesn't care about the locals.  We love to speculate about the perceived "Vulcan" oversight and a paranoid company culture.  We assume Kevin Pritchard and President Larry Miller are simply "toeing the company line" when they say how special of an owner Paul truly is and how extraordinary the Blazer organization he runs has become.

But last Monday night's candid conversation was beyond refreshing.  Why was Rich Cho fired? We received a very specific answer.  Did Allen make the ruthless decision to fire Pritchard the day of the NBA draft to culminate a doomed relationship?  Not according to Allen; Allen said Pritchard repeatedly asked to be fired that day.  Allen even went as far to say that he would have kept Pritchard around had Kevin agreed to a few changes.  Do you believe him?  Read the transcript here: Quick's Review of Allen Press Conference

Allen reminded us all that he has spent, and lost, hundreds of millions trying to bring a championship to this city and Seattle for the fans.  When asked if he would pull back on his knack for "doing whatever it takes" when it comes to spending money, he chuckled and acknowledged how it would be difficult to reign back on the spending, while admitting it would be necessary.

[The following video is a reading (with video highlights) from "Idea Man" about the acquisition of the Trail Blazers, the Blazermania days of the early 90s, the dark days of the Jailblazer era, etc. It is well worth the 5:28.] Video link:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DiSivRhhNgc

Allen made it more clear and reminded us just how much he has always cared and fought tooth and nail, and unloaded a massive amount of personal assets, to bring success and pride to the Trail Blazer franchise and the City of Portland.  Moreover, doing something small like taking the time to really open up to the mass local media for an extended period of time could I believe could lead to a positive chain reaction to a boost of his legacy and career as an owner. More important than anything else, with an organization leader like Allen, it's not an issue of the quality of social communication skills; it's about heart, what's on the inside and, above all else, actions speaking louder than words, no matter how few words are given.

We lost Roy, we may have lost Oden, and we lost our "Big 3" and a championship contender by now, but I believe we will see Allen continue to step up to the plate.  This organization clearly is not throwing in the towel, and we are already seeing exciting hints that Blazermania could be, once again, right around the corner.

P.S. - You had to love the fight Portland put up to claw back in the 4th quarter tonight.  There were still positives to find despite defeat.

Coming Up:
In my first posting, I talked about how I worked next to and met Blazer beat writer Matt Calkins.  I hope to interview him soon, and for that to be the beginning of a series I will write about those people that bring the Blazers to you, those that are "Behind the Camera."  Imagine following the Blazers without the print, online and video media.
After Matt, I hope to interview and/or profile others associated with the organization.  I also plan to of course mix-in some on-the-court observations every few games or so.
Hope you enjoy.

Email: mike@gshlfootball.com
Twitter: @michaelhustad

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