Stoudamire Interested in Buying Blazers
The Oregonian reported today that former, beloved Trail Blazer gaurd Damon Stoudamire is interested in forming an ownership conglomerate to buy the team. While it has been stressed that the discussions are still VERY preliminary, Damon's interest/desire in doing this is very, very real. This wouldbe an excellent move for this franchise. For once, I think John Canazano says it best:
MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The longest shot of Damon Stoudamire's career went up on Tuesday, when the entrepreneur point guard met with a petroleum tycoon and talked about what it would take to buy the Trail Blazers. "I've learned in life not to shoot for little things," the Memphis guard said. Stoudamire, out for the season with a ruptured patellar tendon, wants to be part of an NBA ownership group. So why not rescue the Blazers? Which is why the tight-lipped Stoudamire met with a Houston-based oilman, but wouldn't go beyond, "It's very, very early here." Let's see. Paul Allen, whose executives met with top local and state officials in recent weeks and asked for a "public-private partnership," presumably wants out. Stoudamire, a Wilson High graduate, wants in. Look. If they need me to broker the deal, I'd be happy to meet them for lunch, where we'd be seated, handed menus, and then I'd immediately pound my fist on the table, rattling the silverware, and shout, "Done!" An NBA spokesperson said it's not a conflict of interest for an active player to explore ownership opportunities. And Stoudamire, under contract for three more years with the Grizzlies, said,"Being an owner isn't a childhood dream, but as I've gotten older, I've thought a lot about it." This isn't the first time a former Blazer has talked about ownership. Late in the 2003 season, Scottie Pippen left Allen a phone message explaining that he wanted to talk about staying with Portland in exchange for a small slice of the franchise. Allen didn't return Pippen's call. If this Stoudamire group fleshes itself out -- and it'll need about $500 million -- Allen should return the call. And Blazers fans should then begin shredding confetti for the ensuing parade up Broadway, celebrating the jolt of electricity that would immediately run through the fan base. We're getting way ahead of ourselves here. Stoudamire says the petroleum tycoon has the resources to purchase the Portland franchise and buy the Rose Garden Arena from bondholders. That would give the group control of the lucrative revenue streams that Allen abandoned in bankruptcy.And maybe there's room for a handful of local limited partners as well. Also, there's Stoudamire, 32, who signed that seven-year, $81 million contract with Portland in January 1999. He views himself as the "basketball guy" of an ownership group. I'm guessing Stoudamire's first move as the new boss would be to announce -- straight-faced -- that he just attempted to trade president Steve Patterson for a folding chair, but had no takers. Nothing personal, Steve, but you tried to make the same deal for Damon in 2004. Stoudamire would be a terrific executive. He watches more college basketball than most NBA players, and is so detail-oriented when talking about players in the NBA draft, you'd think he was a scout. And maybe most of all, he's played in an environment that taught him the value of workplace chemistry. Also, with the league broken and rife with athletes who study clothes, automobiles and jewelry, Stoudamire is among the last true students of basketball in the NBA. "I've tried to study the different things that the franchises I've played for do well, and poorly," he said. "I've stored the differences in my brain. There are things Memphis does very well that Portland failed to do. And there are things Portland did very well that Memphis doesn't do." There might be other suitors for the team out there, including former Blazers executive Bob Whitsitt, who is talking about forming an ownership group in Seattle. But nobody would reconnect fans to the franchise like Stoudamire. In the Blazers' most successful era, even with the principal owners -- Herman Sarkowsky, Robert Shmertz and Lawrence Weinberg -- being out-of-towners, there was Harry Glickman and Geoff Petrie around to put a familiar face on the franchise. Stoudamire's presence would bring the same credibility and familiarity. Stoudamire had off-court issues, but he was accountable. He understood the fundamental secret of human behavior: that if you're a decent person who makes honest mistakes, people will forgive you. He's a living, breathing, authentic human. And while Allen has been unfairly characterized as a recluse at times, Stoudamire is undeniably the anti-Allen when it comes to personalities. After Monday's game in Memphis, where the Grizzlies overcame a double-digit deficit to win, Stoudamire removed his jacket after breaking into a sweat. He'd spent the game gesturing and shouting instruction to his teammates from the bench. And when he left the court, he turned to a teammate and said, "I feel like I'm a coach now." So why not an owner.
-John Canzano, The Oregonian