|Friday, December 6
Updated: December 8, 9:45 AM ET
Paul Allen's sports empire goes dot.bomb
By Adrian Wojnarowski
Special to ESPN.com
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.
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.
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.
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 ESPN.com. He can be reached at ESPNWoj@aol.com.