Friday, June 09, 2006

Ownership Wish List

Lots of buzzing about possible new ownership this week. I'm not sure the semi-cryptic announcement we saw from the Blazers and PAM means anything different than before. "Agreeing to maximize the value of the assets" is something like two boxers agreeing to beat the stuffing out of each other in the ring. Well...yes, that's what you both are there for. So now can we get to it?

With all the rumors swirling about Porter, Wattles, a guy from Anaheim, an unnamed client from New Jersey, and three moms from Pocatello, Idaho who just won the lottery, it seems like a good time to develop a wish list for prospective owners. These go in order of importance, from most important to least:

1. I want the new owner to have an overwhelming commitment to keep the team in Portland. Not only is this the first, it's almost the only thing that matters to me at this point. We can suffer through ownership mistakes, we can handle another eventual resale, all of our other bad dreams can come true as long as this one doesn't, because this is the only one we can't work our way back out of.

2. I want the new owner to hire really good basketball people and then stay out of the way. Maybe this is too old-school, but in most places it's the key to getting good. The team is not entirely an investment, but the team is not entirely a toy either. Finals or no finals, I loathe Mark Cuban in Dallas. I should clarify that--I love what he's done interacting with the fans, the giveaways, the "fan of the night", etc. I don't mind if the owner wants to build a close relationship on the community side. But I hate Cuban's ubiquitous presence: sitting over the team like a mother hen as if he actually built and coached it, whining about every perceived injustice, and basically acting like a grown-up three year old with money. Anyone watching Game 1 of the finals saw what I mean after DeSagana Diop tipped in a ball which was ruled (correctly, as it turns out) offensive interference and disallowed. The camera shot to Cuban in the stands communicating with the referees with a hand gesture and a look on his face that made you want to personally walk up there and slap him. I don't need a new-breed flashy owner. I'd rather have a flashy rookie, drafted by somebody who knows what they're doing. How often do you see Jerry Buss in LA? Does anybody even know the name of the guy who owns the Spurs? Many of the best owners are also the least visible. And all of them rely on their basketball people to build the team.

3. The owner needs to have deep enough pockets and a serious enough commitment to absorb the losses, on the court and financial, that are coming in the next couple of years. I believe Blazermania will return, but it's not going to be an instant process.

4. That said, I don't think the owner necessarily needs to be another billionaire. It's fine if it happens, but most NBA owners aren't, including owners of very successful teams. The impending losses mentioned above should weed out the true cheapskates and those who are only looking for a return on their money. As the Knicks have shown, operating at twice the cap doesn't guarantee any more wins. With the exception of Dallas (and this is the FIRST year they've made the finals) the most successful teams are all within $10 million or so of the cap. Most any serious buyer should be able to swing that when the time is right.

5. A single owner would be better than a group unless the group has plans to weed itself out over the next decade or so. One mind provides clearer direction than diverse investors.

If we get the top three at least, everything should be cool. My fingers remain crossed.

--Dave (


Anonymous fatty said...

i have a strange feeling your
worst nightmares will come
true i see this team in either
3 cities in 08-09 sillicon valley
van,b.c. and anaheim,california
all 3 great locations for the n.b.a
if this happens will you still
support the blazers !!!!!

1:48 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

Sorry, it's just not the same. Maybe it should be. I don't know. I think I'd be like those Cleveland Brown fans, mourning and refusing to have anything to do with Baltimore until the league finally gave them a team back.


2:30 PM  
Blogger ignacio said...

If the Blazers move I'll give them (the organization) a one-fingered salute and wish them ill. I guess I'll root for Lebron James (and against Rasheed).

I'll read more, see more DVDs.

Screw the NBA then.

5:52 PM  
Blogger jojack said...

this leaves me in a bit of a pickle. it's very probable i'm going to be moving to southern california very soon. if the blazers end up there what the hell am i supposed to do? i think the only sane option would be to A. hate the anaheim blazers and their stealing owners with a white hot passion.
B. root for the clippers until which time the true blazers are returned to portland, like the browns in cleveland.
lets just hope it doesn't go down that way.

8:18 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

I think I'm in the same boat as you two. I'd probably join ignacio in the one-fingered salute, but I'm going to be really honest here...not before I cried. That or a championship would both bring tears, obviously for different reasons.

Then I'd probably go the route of ignoring the whole league, just like you try like mad to ignore that pretty girl who broke up with you. Don't want to know who you're dating, don't want to know where you are, don't want to hear from you period. Just leave me alone until I get over the ache.

We should all make a pact. If they ever do leave, we should gather in one place and hoist a beer in memory.

For now, chins up. It's unlikely they'll be moved. It's far more likely that we'll be saddled with an overpaid, underachieving power forward smack dab in the middle of Portland for the better part of the next decade.

Hmmm...come to think of it, we may need that beer now...


8:41 PM  
Anonymous jorga said...

I'd rather have a lousy team than no team. If they leave, I'll join you for a beer, then I'll be off to Powell's cuz I'll be doing a lot more reading too.

7:52 AM  
Anonymous Donovan Mertz said...

You're the best blogger out there. I'm surprised at how I agree with your perspectives almost every time.

But of course there has to be an exception. I do not tire of Mark Cuban in the least. He simply appears to be an enthusiastic, super fan and I can't figure out what's wrong with that. In my mind he's an ideal owner if there ever was one. Other than lacking his extroverted personality, as an owner (when I win the lottery) I will be like him.

Rest easy. The Blazers won't leave Portland (I desperately hope this positive approach works). Gosh, it seems like I'm much in the minority but I don't think Paul Allen is going to sell the Blazers. I judge this soley on his love for basketball. He too is a super fan.

10:07 AM  
Blogger Dave said...

I don't think Paul wants to sell either. At some point he may just get sick of it all, or just figure it's not financially viable. It can't be much fun owning this team right now, it's just a matter of how much endurance he has.

It's easy to play the "if I were" game, but if I were Paul Allen I think I simply would have written a check to PAM long ago. Even if they are being unreasonable, even if they're being complete jerks (and I don't know that they are, I'm just saying) what's the point of having tens of billions of dollars if you can't buy your way out of dealing with jerks? I mean, isn't that what the money's give you the ultimate power to rid your life of that kind of thing? Hard-nose negotiating is smart, but at some point the stress outweighs the benefit. Just write one check and you can say, "Get out of my office and I never want to see you again." Problem solved.

Liking Cuban is ok. I fully admit that my bias against him is more personal that rational. I do insist, however, that owners need to keep their noses out of basketball operations except for giving the final OK on deals. Whether it's PA or someone new, billionaire or just scraping by, hire someone smart and let them work.


12:06 PM  
Blogger ignacio said...

I don't like seeing a reaction-shot of the owner at every hard or debatable foul. I wouldn't like seeing Steinbrenner in such circumstances either. Cuban has a spoiled-baby type face. Technically, I suppose this is not his fault.

2:16 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

Mercifully the pace of the game is getting faster, so they're not going to have as much time for the reaction shots. I think there should be a moratorium on close-ups of players who just made a shot jogging back down the court, at least for a while. Directors have gotten addicted to those things like crack. But how many dunks and steals do we have to miss while gazing at some guy's ugly mug?

And speaking of ugly mugs...good call on the Steinbrenner thing.


3:38 PM  
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