PORTLAND — Chris McGowan, the newly-appointed president and chief executive officer of the Portland Trail Blazers, sat nestled between the man who will oversee team owner Paul Allen’s sports enterprises and the one who runs Allen’s basketball team.
McGowan belonged right in the middle — fully understanding his position within the organization.
“I think we’re going to make a great team,” McGowan said, referring to Blazers general manager Neil Olshey. “We both know what our roles are and I’m looking forward to working with (Olshey) on a daily basis.”
On Tuesday, the Blazers formally introduced McGowan in a press conference that also featured remarks from Peter McLoughlin, the head of Allen’s Vulcan Sports and Entertainment, as well as Olshey.
Both Olshey and McGowan, who spent the previous 16 years working with the Anschutz Entertainment Group in Los Angeles, deemed it important enough to repeatedly state the defined roles between business and basketball. Distinguishing the two sides played a factor in the finding the right candidate.
During the organization’s months-long, nationwide search, Olshey provided his opinions and reservations on who to hire.
Ultimately, the Blazers picked a sports executive known for pumping up the bottom line and filling Southern Californian arenas, and Olshey got a team president who gave up his basketball dreams freshman year in high school and therefore willingly stays within his business lane.
“Throughout the process, knowing how they ran the (NHL’s) L.A. Kings and his integral role there in terms of generating revenue,” Olshey said, “working on a daily basis collaboratively with the general manager there but understanding that Chris has his responsibilities at the Rose Garden and I have mine at the practice facility was important to me. Knowing somebody that appreciates basketball operations but doesn’t think they have input into basketball-related decisions. Just like I appreciate the job that they do and support them anyway I can, but I don’t come down to the Rose Garden and tell them how to put together season-ticket packages.”
After assuming his role on Nov. 12, McGowan will begin managing the business operations of the Blazers and the Rose Garden. McGowan said he plans to concentrate his long-term efforts in identifying revenue-generating opportunities for the team.
“My role is to support in any way that we can to create an atmosphere and an environment that allows (Olshey) to put a winning team on the floor,” McGowan said. “I’m going to make sure that our organization is doing that and I’ll be a resource that he needs along in that process.”