I believe I understand how witnesses to Kevin Pritchard’s path to being fired have different accounts on the events and understanding about what caused such events. It would be as absurd to believe that any two people saw and interpreted things exactly the same as to assert they saw with the same set of eyes or breathed with the same set of lungs. This is what I mean when I write that I get people have multiple viewpoints.
Nevertheless, only one set of events did happen and no matter how many people interpret, spin or evade the facts, the outcome is abundantly clear: Kevin Pritchard is being tortured by excruciating and public means. His only consolation is the same as any prisoner on the rack before being executed. Soon it will all be over.
I do not know either Mr. Penn or Mr. Pritchard personally, and seeing how even decent, honest people with public lives have different private lives, I cannot attest to their character. But having followed the team the past decade, I can’t remember a public statement from Pritchard that wasn’t decent or honorable, nor any which in retrospect seemed the least unworthy. On the contrary, his conversations are astonishingly rational, focused on steady, long-term prospects, and characteristically moral, emphasizing fair dealing, honesty, independence, integrity. He didn’t have to come across that way, and indeed few public figures seem willing to be so forthright about doing things the right way. That’s what a leader has to do, however, to change a bad culture to a good one, and I know no jobs done so successfully as Kevin Pritchard did his.
I am concerned with a good man being unfairly persecuted. I would like to do more than write this, but because no crime has been committed and I have no greater stake in this matter than being a fan of a basketball team, I can’t think of what else to do. As a person, if Mr. Pritchard’s conduct behind the scenes is as upright as it is in public (and I have no reason to think otherwise), I would like to offer him support. Presumably he has nothing to gain from staying here after being treated so, and just let the reader ponder what that dark fact says about the team we have up until now followed. I hope wherever he goes he carries no bitterness toward people in general.
As a fan, however, the obvious fear is that the era of good basketball Pritchard shepherded will be as swiftly replaced by the basketball which preceded it: the Jailblazers. Paul Allen’s ownership has unnecessarily transformed a rising, healthy culture into complete uncertainty with utter depravity a few short years in the past. With such inept judgment in public relations, why should Paul Allen’s judgment be any better when it comes to personnel? Or financial management? Or basketball decisions?
No. People who say that losing a GM and an assistant GM are minor factors to being a basketball fan miss the point: Paul Allen is an obstacle to the Blazers’ long-term success. Despite his money, he is not known for good business decisions. Despite his success, he has a history (soon to be reconfirmed) of firing successful people. Beyond that I cannot say anything more than I don’t have confidence in any franchise of which Paul Allen is an owner. I don’t believe he is a rational man; his decisions seem at times driven by whim, such as his fascination with speedy point guards, or his desire to have a championship now, to hell with the long-term consequences (such as bankruptcy or a team ranked first in criminal misconduct). I have never heard any statement or of any of his actions which would lead me to believe he is a moral or principled man, which are necessary ingredients to long-term success. I see no reason to follow a team which can change so drastically according to the secret desires of a man with questionable character.
To summarize, unless this Pritchard thing turns around completely—if he were, for instance, to be granted a long extension and full control over the team—or, on the other hand, if he were revealed to be a sadistic monster having committed unspeakable crimes—I don’t have interest in the Trailblazers much anymore. I might watch for entertainment, and if by luck they win a championship I will be excited for the city and the players and staff of the team. But I am indifferent to an organization so carelessly run.
I can’t imagine any decent and talented individual seeking employment there. Why should being a fan be any different?