Photo by David Blair (Cal Sport Media via AP Images)
As the Blazers open their season against the Los Angeles Lakers on October 18, 2018, owner Paul G. Allen may not occupy his usual seat just to the right of the home basket, but he will definitely be there in spirit. After owning the team for 30 years, he holds a place in every Blazer fan’s heart. From his initial purchase of the team in 1988, to his untimely death just hours ago on October 15, 2018, his support for the Portland Trail Blazers franchise, as well as the Portland community, has been unwavering. Before I get any further, I would like to offer my deepest condolences to Paul Allen’s loved ones and anyone affected by his death on the behalf of Blazer fans everywhere.
When Allen took control of the team, it was a transition period for Portland. The honeymoon period of winning the NBA Championship had passed, and the Blazers needed a infusion of energy. Whether by coincidence or not, the team got on a winning path immediately, leading to their most recent NBA Finals appearances in 1990 and 1992. Allen was willing to do anything to win the Blazers an NBA Championship. In the late 1990’s, he poured in as much money as was necessary to build the best team possible. While these teams had chemistry and off the court issues, it showed Allen’s continual commitment to building a winning team. However, what made Allen great was his understanding of the impact of Blazers basketball in the community. After the Jail Blazers era, he made more of an effort to make sure the players on the team were respected by the fans, and the players respected the community, which has further increased fans’ love for the team. His ability to navigate through the tough times of the franchise cemented the team’s standing in Portland culture.
Allen squashed constant rumors that he would move the team to a bigger market, most notably his hometown of Seattle. He understood the unique market that Portland had for basketball. In a world full of big market NBA teams, Allen’s creativity and vision showed that small market teams have a place in the NBA. He was an owner who genuinely cared about every one of his players, staff, and fans, and the impact that sport has on a community.
While Allen had a huge impact on Blazers basketball, his approximated $2 billion donated to various charitable causes (many within the Pacific Northwest) has transformed a multitude of communities within the area. The beautiful arena that he pushed to build has become home to the “BEST DAMN FANS” in the NBA. Finally, his continual battle of both Hodgkin's and Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma showed his courage and his grit to never give up.
To semi-quote comedian Ian Karmel’s tweet,
“For many of us die hard Blazer fans, some of the best moments and memories of our lives with friends, family, even strangers, are centered around the Blazers. They would not have happened without this great man.” (Ian Karmel's twitter)