Blog Entry

Buffoonery at its best in Portland

Posted on: May 23, 2011 5:57 pm
Edited on: May 24, 2011 10:57 am
The way things are going in the circus that is the NBA these days, with the tents and elephants and freak show setting up shop in Portland once again, there’s never been a better time to resurrect this memorable quote from Tayshaun Prince.

You know what they call this? They call this buffoonery.

Except this goes way beyond comedy – beyond even the wackiness Prince experienced in Detroit this season. The firing of Rich Cho as the Trail Blazers’ general manager Monday, and the search for the team’s third GM in less than a year, means the Blazers are no longer simply a joke. They are a league-wide embarrassment, a proverbial Petri dish for the experimental breeding of ego, incompetence, and the kind of empty-suit entitlement that rears its ugly head when rich guys think money and malice trump class.

On July 19, 2010, when Portland hired Cho to replace Kevin Pritchard – who was fired, for reasons that remain a mystery, hours before the previous month’s draft – team president Larry Miller issued the following statement: “Rich is the perfect fit for our organization.”


On Monday, a month before the next draft, the Trail Blazers announced they’ve “parted ways” with Cho. The first line of Miller’s statement explaining that bombshell went like this: “The fit between Rich and our team simply wasn't right.”

Can I get a whoops, whoops?

Of course it wasn’t right, because Cho was an independent thinker who wanted what any GM in the NBA should have as long as his business card bears that title: autonomy. The Blazers do not believe in autonomy, unless your name is Paul Allen or you are employed by Allen’s Seattle-based Vulcan Inc. The “Vulcanites,” as NBA front office insiders call them, ran Pritchard and assistant GM Tom Penn out of Portland and now someone has run out their replacement. Cho probably doesn’t feel this way now, but he’s better off. Or at least that’s what his colleagues in the GM profession hope.

“Rich is such a nice guy, such a good, gentle guy, and this could destroy him,” one of Cho’s colleagues said Monday. “He may never get another job as a GM because people will say, ‘How weird is it that you got fired after only 10 months on the job?’ But they don’t care about that stuff. They don’t care how they treat people.”

The person in the GM’s seat – now, it’s Chad Buchanan, who will hold the interim title until, or rather if, Portland is able to persuade some other poor soul to take the job – is never the one calling the shots there. Ultimately, that is Allen, who gets his advice from two key Vulcanites who’ve lurked behind the scenes in the organization for years: Steve “Hat Man” Gordon and Bert Kolde, a longtime friend of Allen’s who is listed in the team’s front office directory as director of the board.

“He’s the de facto GM,” said a person familiar with the Blazers’ hierarchy. “He’s the guy always trying to make calls and make decisions.”

Echoing the tasteless, underhanded way the Blazers fired Penn and Pritchard, NBA front office sources told Monday that word began circulating at the scouting combine last week in Chicago that Portland already was looking for Cho’s replacement. Good luck to Allen, Miller, Hat Man, Kolde, the dancing bears and clowns on a unicycle in their quest to find a better person for the job than the three aforementioned executives, who were all capable – not to mention deserving of the freedom to make their own basketball decisions.

Was the mild-mannered Cho, after working under Sam Presti in Oklahoma City, prepared for this kind of hot seat? Was he as capable and accomplished as his predecessor, Pritchard? Of course not; but that’s the organization’s fault for firing Pritchard in the first place. And it was their responsibility to hire the right person, and to give that person a chance to grow into the job. The Vulcanites didn’t like Pritchard’s talkative, cocksure ways, so they hired the quietest person in any room; they overcompensated. Next, they should sew themselves a puppet and put it on the payroll, or go to the pet store and buy a parakeet. Hat Man will have him chirping, “Yes, sir, Mr. Allen,” in no time.

What the Blazers want above all else is a weak-minded yes man – not the kind of team-first, independent thinker that Cho proved himself to be when a report surfaced in the Oregonian last week that he wanted to suspend star Brandon Roy over his complaints about playing time after Game 2 of the first-round series against Dallas. This is the kind of authority a GM has to have if he’s going to shape the organization according to his vision. It is the kind of moment when, if an executive is undercut by ownership, it becomes apparent to everyone how much juice he has.


All NBA executives face pressure from above. It’s part of the job. It’s the first thing they think of when they wake up and the last thought that crawls through their weary brains when they go to sleep: How do I keep my owner happy? Owners from coast to coast meddle in coach hirings and firings, weigh in on personnel decisions they know nothing about, and generally exert the influence that goes along with the flourish with which they sign the checks.

But Portland? This is ownership run wild. This is an organization that deserves to have no one – and I mean no one – even agree to interview for the job that was unfathomably vacated for the second time in less than a year.

At least the Blazers didn’t wait until draft night to drop the hammer on Cho, who made no discernable mistakes since taking over for Pritchard – and, hell, didn’t even have time to make any. Unless you consider getting Gerald Wallace from the Bobcats and losing a first-round playoff series to the Mavericks – still in the running for the NBA title – with his star player hobbling around on one leg a mistake.

And so the Blazers are right back where they were less than a year ago, when they fired Pritchard for no good reason and were firm in their belief that money and the allure of working for an owner with limitless pockets would trump any concerns candidates might have about working in the theater of the absurd.

Here’s hoping that this buffoonery hurts the Blazers more than Cho. Here’s hoping that their hunt for the next victim turns up much the same as the cache of credibility they have left.


Since: Dec 5, 2006
Posted on: May 25, 2011 1:18 am

Buffoonery is closer than you think

Interesting response bkeithm137 - What I wrote is Canzano is not a reporter. You countered that with lines about the associated press sports awards he has received. There are two problems with this counter. One, it elevates the associated press to Pulitzer level. Hardly true. The Associated Press awards may be primarily for those whose columns are sensational enough for the AP to send along on the wire (making the AP money of course). Two, it completely ignores my point that Canzano is on the radio week-day mornings fomenting the Portland metro area with his crud. Yes, he is a columnist for the Oregonian (a paper in dire need of help as it monthly shrinks its staff and its pages). As a columnist the Oregonian has made clear that there is no factual requirement for his copy. In his duel roles (some believe it is a conflict of interest) he is able to drive traffic to both employers by being sensational. He just happens to prefer angry nasty innuendo to responsible journalism.

As far as your criticisms over my copy you again fail to read my points. It is integrity (lack thereof) that I present, not writing ability. If Canzano were a poor writer he would not be so effective. Your own point might have been better made without pasting the markup.

But since I was unclear before let me note again that Berger has apparently no idea of what has happened in Portland. He repeats another's claims as if they were verified and as such, perpetuates the error. I don't need to be a great writer to know this is deception and I continue to dislike it. It makes the buffoon, the reader who swallows it whole.

Since: Aug 22, 2006
Posted on: May 24, 2011 8:03 pm

Buffoonery at its best in Portland

Shoktart you're an effing clown.  You dogged UO all football season and you dog the Blazers now.  You are not a fan.  You are a total idiot.  I read what you said about the Blazers should just leave town.  Why don't you leave Oregon d*psh*t! 

Since: Aug 16, 2006
Posted on: May 24, 2011 7:29 pm

Buffoonery at its best in Portland

How about trading away all our frontline players.  We had no backups for LMA or Camby. 

Yeah, the reason we lost in the playoffs is because we no longer had Sean Marks & pothead Dante Cunningham. Get real. Przybilla had nothing left.

Are you really complaining about the Gerald Wallace trade? Wow.

Face it. Rich Cho did nothing wrong. And that includes wanting to suspend Brandon Roy. At the time of those comments Roy was providing nothing good on the court and was just hurting the team off the court. Brandon Roy hurt the Blazers much more than he helped them this year. He had a magical Game 4 but that did not make up for all the damage his return brought.

Rich Cho is gone because Paul Allen is a childish impatient moron that is trying to rush his way to a championship before he dies. He doesn't know how to build a winner by hiring smart people and then letting them do their job.

Rich Cho understood that the only way the Blazers will contend is to start over. He wanted to use the amnesty clause on Brandon Roy and trade Batum. He wanted to build from the draft and to stop adding mid level guys that will simply keep us hovering around 45-50 wins every year stuck in mediocrity.

But Paul Allen has a different philosolphy. Allen still hasn't given up on the Roy/Oden/L.A. trio that he thinks will bring us a championship. He's an idiot.

Since: Aug 22, 2006
Posted on: May 24, 2011 7:05 pm

Buffoonery at its best in Portland

Is Cho your freakin' brother Berger?  "he wanted to suspend star over his complaints about playing time after Game 2 of the first-round series against Dallas."  Who would do that?  You don't suspend one of your best players during the playoffs you moron!

"Cho, who made no discernable mistakes since taking over for Pritchard"...oh really?  How about trading away all our frontline players.  We had no backups for LMA or Camby.  We were paper thin down low. 

"Here’s hoping that this buffoonery hurts the Blazers" you're hoping that a team with a giant fan base suffers while ONE guy comes out okay?  You are a major doosh Mr. Berger.  Yet another reporter who doesn't care about the fans.  Writer FAIL!

Since: Aug 16, 2006
Posted on: May 24, 2011 6:03 pm

Buffoonery at its best in Portland

Where do you come up with the statement "there is no reason to have an NBA team in the NW region of the country"? Such a statement completely negates anything intelligent you may have said in the rest of your comment.
Did you ever consider there are MANY who happen to live in the NW and enjoy GOING to NBA games? Is there some reason those who live in the NW part of the country should not have this option?
Where do you live? And how would you like it if there were no NBA teams there?

What I mean is from the NBA's perspective there is no reason to have an NBA team in the NW. The NBA is thriving right now with ratings and attendance up across the country. The reason is because the markets that the NBA care about are all thriving. Seattle doesn't have a team and Portland sucks. But it hasn't hurt the sport.

The Blazers could disappear like the Sonics and only the diehard fans of those teams would even notice that they are gone.

As a Blazer fan living in the NW I would miss the Blazers for sure. But I would get over it. The fact is that this current disgrace of a franchise is an embarrassment to the city of Portland. Paul Allen is such a horrible owner I would rather have no team for a few years if it meant we could start all over with an expansion team and a new owner in 10 years.

If Paul Allen knew what he was doing the Blazers would still be coached by Rick Adelman and Geoff Petrie would still be our GM. They were the dream team that took the Blazers to 2 Finals in 3 years. How many championship series have we been to since? Exactly. But Paul Allen's ego got in the way. And ever since it's been a merri-go-round of coaches and GM's. No one is ever allowed to build anything. It's a joke.

Since: May 20, 2011
Posted on: May 24, 2011 4:44 pm

Buffoonery at its best in Portland

No need for an NBA team in the Northwest. What kind of crap is that?

Since: Sep 4, 2007
Posted on: May 24, 2011 4:36 pm

Buffoonery at its best in Portland

I dont understand what it is about sports that make otherwise competent leaders and businessmen loose their minds.  One of the main rules of leadership is to surround yourself with people who are better than you in a given area and lead them to your goal.  That means giving your people autonomy in their area of expertise.  What appears to happen alot in basketball is that the owner starts becoming the teams biggest fan and like all fans they start thinking they know whats best as far as personnel moves.

Since: Jun 26, 2009
Posted on: May 24, 2011 2:34 pm

Buffoonery at its best in Portland

I was replying to merrien's post, he explained everything pretty well.

But if you want me to explain, I will start with what Berger said about Pritchard being fired for no reason.

He drafted Oden over Durant, that is reason enough. Nobody has to say that is why he got fired, and that is probably not the only reason, but that alone is reason enough. ANYBODY that has ever watched basketball knows that is reason enough to get fired. That, is also reason enough to say that this douche doesnt know what he is writing about.

Since: May 20, 2007
Posted on: May 24, 2011 2:08 pm

Buffoonery at its best in Portland

Then why don't you tell us all what is wrong with the article other than just criicizing it. 

Since: Mar 6, 2010
Posted on: May 24, 2011 2:08 pm

Buffoonery at its best in Portland

More proof that the Portland Trailblazers are far, far away from being anything serious when it comes to a championship. That, and all of those 1st round losses. I used to be a Blazer fan, that is, until I moved to Portland and found out that their fans are the whiniest bunch of homers I have ever seen. Had to admit I was more than a little happy when the Blazers got drilled by the same Dallas team that they wanted so badly in the playoffs. Portland wants so bad to be like LA, but they never will. Portland people in general act like they are better than everyone else, and that their precious little city is above criticism. Well, there ain't much of a difference between Portland and my hometown of Cleveland. I've lived in both. The economy sucks in both. The weather sucks in both, and the basketball sucks in both. Well, except for all of those 1st round losses. At least the Cavaliers routinely made it past that.

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