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Friday, December 6
Updated: December 8, 9:45 AM ET
Paul Allen's sports empire goes dot.bomb

By Adrian Wojnarowski
Special to

The biggest, most important owners in sports are relentlessly ripped for wild, irresponsible spending and lording over bad teams and bad actors. But the richest disgrace of all stays strangely under the radar and out of harms way.

Paul Allen
For Paul Allen, owning a sports team is as risky an investment as owning tech stocks these days.
Yet, there's no mistaking the truth: Billionaire Paul Allen has to be considered one of the worst sports owners ever. Who has ever spent so much money for so much embarrassment? His Microsoft genius has been lost in the translation to professional ball, leaving a lavish legacy of lawlessness that doesn't look like it's going to soon change.

The Portland Trail Blazers are the most expensive disgrace in sports, with the Seattle Seahawks riding shotgun for their own failures on the field.

Before this lost season, the Blazers actually had the nerve to mount a marketing campaign where players -- including registered sex offender Ruben Patterson (the nanny) and headcase Rasheed Wallace (the refs) -- went door to door in Portland courting beleaguered Blazers fans with an invitation to a family night out of basketball. The ads insisted you would love these hometown heroes. So now, Wallace and Damon Stoudamire are answering charges for marijuana possession on the heels of Patterson's wife -- despite a disturbing police report -- deciding not to press charges on her husband for domestic assault.

For his part as owner, Allen has never been held accountable for his franchise. We rip Peter Angelos for running the Orioles into the ground. Ditto for the Irsays, Browns and Bidwells. We destroy Steinbrenner for his greed and punish Cablevision for its bungled management of the Knicks and Rangers. So, come on down, Paul Allen, and get your just due. Let there be no misunderstanding: Allen is responsible for two of the most toxic dumps in professional sports.

Mike Holmgren
Seahawks' GM and coach Mike Holmgren hasn't been able to duplicate the magic he had in Green Bay.
Allen allows Bob Whitsitt to run the Blazers and watch over the Seahawks. Somehow, Whitsitt still has a job. When fans held a "Trade Whitsitt" sign in the playoffs against the Lakers a few years ago, they were thrown out. Whitsitt is responsible for this basketball mess. Aging brute Dale Davis for rising star Jermaine O'Neal? Bringing Shawn Kemp to the Blazers after his career and life bottomed out with Cleveland?

As it turns out, the most untouchable owner also happens to employ the most untouchable president and GM. Allen has watched Mike Holmgren, the $32 million savior turned naked emperor, run the Seahawks straight into irrelevance.

There is a measure of hope for the Seahawks, good young players rising to replace the overpaid veterans Holmgren chased on the free agent market. Still, the model for a failed franchise is the Blazers. Allen has betrayed the proudest NBA city of all, Portland, with these malcontents and misfits. Tark never had this loathsome of a lineup.

There's a page on The Oregonian's Web site that has links to the Blazers' long list of transgressions, a click away to discover "Blazers sign sex offender Patterson" (the babysitter) to "Blazers' Patterson arrested for assault" (the wife). There were the Blazers of Rod Strickland (DUI) and Gary Trent (accused in attack), Isaiah Rider (Hall of Fame buffoonery) and Clifford Robinson (possession of pot). These are the Blazers of Paul Allen, a billionaire turning one of the NBA's proudest, most magnificent franchises into a pitiful program that the NCAA would've gone SMU on, delivering the death penalty.

Ruben Patterson
Ruben Patterson didn't have to make another teary-eyed court appearance after his wife declined to press charges against him.
Somehow, he's never responsible. It isn't just the Blazers, but his Seahawks, too. He paid Holmgren handsomely to be the GM and coach, and he has been a spectacular failure, signing old, washed-up players (John Randle) to ridiculous free-agent contracts, an offensive guru signing his old Green Bay backup (Matt Hasselbeck) who's a fine quarterback when the the games are meaningless. Allen bought the Seahawks in 1997, lorded over the construction of a fabulous $430 million downtown stadium and has given fans a relentless run of losing seasons. When the Blazers couldn't find a roster spot for Jeff George this spring, the Seahawks did.

Through it all, Allen remains untouchable and unapproachable, forever elevating himself above the fray, above the folly of his franchises. On the side of the Mount Rushmore for wayward owners, there goes the Microsoft genius. Come on down, Paul Allen. No more hiding. This is on you.

Adrian Wojnarowski is a columnist for The Record (N.J.) and a regular contributor to He can be reached at

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