Blazers take Rip City and clumsily tear it in two

Commentary: Greg Jayne

By Greg Jayne, Columbian Opinion Editor

Published:

 

The bottom line is, I don’t know whether Kevin Pritchard deserved to be fired by the Portland Trail Blazers. You probably don’t, either.

And while the public consensus suggests that the move is highly unpopular, maybe there’s a very good reason for it, and maybe Pritchard knows exactly why the Blazers are making it.

But in the twisting, speculative, ethereal world of the unknown, there is one immutable and undeniable truth to come out of this soap opera that has dragged on for months: The Blazers have botched this from here to high heaven.

After carefully recrafting their image over the past several years, after rebuilding their brand and their franchise both on and off the court, the Blazers have spent the past couple months demolishing any credibility and goodwill they have engendered.

Jeez, they couldn’t have screwed this up more if they had hired Lindsay Lohan to handle their public relations.

Think about it. You are a corporation that relies upon public perception, and you want to fire a popular employee who is in the public eye. What are your options?

Well, you could fire him immediately, allowing the fallout to blow over. Or you could leave him dangling, leading to all manner of speculation and conjecture and ensuring that he will be ineffective in his job.

You could leave him in charge until one of the most important days of the year for your company, and then, on that very day, allow word to leak out that he has been fired.

And all the while, you can refuse to offer any explanation to the public, effectively destroying that goodwill you so desperately rely upon.

Jeez, they couldn’t have bungled this worse if they had hired Isaiah Rider as a spokesman.

I am not questioning, not for a second, Paul Allen’s right to fire one of his employees. It’s his company and his money, and there are mechanizations behind the scenes that we will never be privy to.

But in their arrogant, secretive, polarizing actions, the Blazers’ front office has failed Management 101 and Public Relations 102. The entire scenario has been an abject lesson in how not to run a company, and it has been one that leads to serious questions about the direction of the franchise.

Two years ago, Portland appeared to be prying open the proverbial window, ushering in an era in which they would could entertain thoughts of competing for a championship.

This past season, they battled the fortunes of fate and seemingly overachieved in the wake of copious injuries. They didn’t necessarily take a step forward, but they managed to avoid regressing.

But with the Pritchard saga, the Blazers have generated doubt about their future. If a company is run in this fashion, with this level of incompetence, is it realistic to think that they can continue to move toward a title?

Is it realistic to think they can possibly remove their foot from their mouth and their thumb from their eye long enough to move forward? The most dangerous injuries are the self-inflicted ones, and Portland is left with a gaping hole in its foot and a smoking gun in its hand.

So regardless of what Pritchard’s transgressions might have been, the inescapable conclusion is that the problems lie with Allen and Allen’s cronies and team president Larry Miller.

Jeez, they couldn’t have bungled this more if they had Amy Winehouse for an owner.

And so another draft day has come and gone, the kind of day in which every team is supposed to be a winner. The kind of day in which every team is supposed to improve itself and offer a modicum of hope for its fan base.

But not the Blazers. No, the Blazers spent draft day creating more questions than answers.

And in the process, they made it clear they are their own worst enemies.

Greg Jayne is Sports editor of The Columbian. He can be reached at 360-735-4531, or by e-mail at greg.jayne(at)columbian.com. To read his blog, go to columbian.com/weblogs/GregJayne