Talk about a case of the Mondays. It was October 15th, 2018. I had just finished drying the last plate, and I sat down to take a breath and check out what was happening with the Trail Blazers. The season opener against the Lakers was coming up. I was excited. Then I looked at my phone and my heart broke. Blazers owner Paul Allen had died.
I was taken totally by surprise. I had heard about his battles with cancer. That it had returned. I thought he was beating it. But, it took him that cloudy autumn day, leaving a seemingly unfillable void.
Portland mourned for him. Fans offered their sympathies and their fondest memories of Allen, a down to Earth, humble man, who became a superlative figure representing some greater grandiosity. A superfan who lived the dream.
Allen helmed a thirty year era of Blazers basketball which was driven by passion and the love of the game with a franchise like no other. No expense was spared. Alas, he never saw the promised land. Allen, the fearless leader was suddenly gone.
The future felt suddenly obscure and dark. Fans tried to balance paying respect to Allen while speculating at the uncertainty. Who would be the next owner? Would they have the same passion as Paul? Would they move the Blazers elsewhere?
I remember the feeling. A sickly nauseating sensation in the pit of my stomach. That paired with a deep melancholy at the stinging loss of Allen.
His sister Jody Allen was set to inherit the team, but rumor spread quickly that she didn’t want to be the owner of a basketball team. The perception was that for sale signs would soon be up on the front lawn of the Moda Center.
Who would buy the team? Would Merritt Paulson, minority owner of the Timbers put an investment team together to make a bid? Would billionaire Larry Ellison, whose mouth had been watering at the prospect of buying a pro team, put together the money? Maybe Paul’s Microsoft Partner Bill Gates would purchase the team to keep Allen’s vision alive, or his good friend Bert Kolde could put together an investment team of his own? The basketball gods forbid, Kobe Bryant?
All of these scenarios and more were thrown around by analysts, journalists, and fans alike. But, none of them would be Paul Allen. There would be no guarantee his vision would be continued, though Kolde and perhaps Gates would have likely tried to see it through.
None of those scenarios, it turns out became necessary. As the season advanced, the message from the front office changed. The team would be sold. The team would most likely be for sale. The team would probably be sold after the season. The team is not for sale.
Jody Allen, I imagine got a taste and got to see first hand what Paul fell in love with. She caught the same bug. Like quicksand, the more the season went on, the more she sunk in. And, before she knew it, she was captured by the allure of a franchise and its fans.
Now, almost a year after Paul’s passing, fans can set aside questions about ownership and worries about the team moving. Jody Allen was just approved by the NBA board of governors as the new owner of the Portland Trail Blazers. She is here to stay. To continue Paul’s legacy.
Maybe things aren’t quite the same. Olshey and McGowan don’t have Paul Allen calling at all hours offering whimsical lightbulbs of ideas and personally crafting plans for the team. That will be sorely missed, as Olshey and McGowan have wistfully shared.
But, his spirit and vision will live on, guided by his sister, Jody Allen who shares input, but gives space and latitude. She wants to continue her brother’s undertaking and see the Blazers reach the promised land. Jody has said she aims to advance the team and win a few championships, now sooner than later. She wants her brother to get his wish. Paul must be smiling.