Yesterday, The Portland Trail Blazers lost a key component to their franchise. One that has produced in the regular season, the clutch, the locker room, and even in the post season.
He was an asset that many teams will be sure to pick up sooner rather than later.
...and it wasn't Martell Webster.
The Portland Trail Blazers' general manager Kevin Pritchard was fired within an hour of the NBA Draft.
It shouldn't have been shocking, surprising, breathtaking. Nope, because we all saw it coming.
But under the circumstances, I believe every fan has the right to be dumbfounded.
Here is a guy whom compiled the right people at the right time. KP built a culture that was unlike anything this franchise has ever seen and many current teams wouldn't be able to pull off.
In short, the culture surrounding the Trail Blazers was effective.
It was honest.
It was genuine.
There was a time when players were blowing marijuana smoke out of a Hummer and sneaking drugs (in tin foil) onto planes. The players were talented but stupid. They were athletic but they had baggage. (pun not intended)
In short, the culture surrounding the Jail Blazers revolved around dog fighting, drug dealing, and domestic abuse.
The three D's of Jail Blazer basketball.
So when Pritchard was given a shot to run the broken franchise, he made the most of it.
In the summer of 2006, a short time before the draft, Paul Allen approached Pritchard, then assistant general manager to Steve Patterson, and handed him the keys to the draft. Leaving him with his vote of confidence.
"Go get it." Allen told Pritchard
...and before you knew it, the team had Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge, while dumping role players with ego's and big salaries.
In his first full season as general manager, the Portland Trail Blazers were lucky enough to snag the first pick in the 2007 draft.
Eventually the pick was used on Greg Oden, the lanky seven-footer that is currently struggling with his own body, but will eventually be able to display his talents in full.
Sure, they could have chose the best scorer in the league with the first pick, but you just don't pass up on shot blocking, agile centers with no ceiling, and no one would have been able to predict what actually would end up playing out.
Pritchard approached the selection of Oden with common sense and humility.
He trusted his own opinion as much as he trusted his colleagues point of view.
Pritchard took a no-nonsense approach to everything he did for his employer. Every action that was clear, realistic, honest, and intelligent.
They may not have always worked out, but the fans could appreciate the clarity Kevin provided for the fans.
That is why Blazer fans are so angry today.
Not because Pritchard was fired or because of the timing, but because of the nature the process had been completed.
Maybe after two years of peace and team-wide collaboration, ingenuity, and transparity. The Portland Trail Blazers fans were a little bit spoiled.
But to look back on how this entire situation played out, I do not believe that the Blazers marketing team and ownership (Allen and Vulcan) could have handled this in a more secretive, deceptive, confusing, and downright disrespectful fashion.
That is why we are angry.
If Pritchard murdered a prostitute in Bangkok, let us know.
If he was too confident for the team owners liking, let us know.
If he is being punished for choosing oft-injured Oden instead of oft scoring Kevin Durant, let us know.
But whatever you do, don't handle things like Vulcan.
Because all that gets you is disgruntled fans.
Just let us know.
It would be better for all parties involved.
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