Here's the full transcript of a Blazers.com video interview that Portland Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen conducted with Blazers play-by-play broadcaster Mike Barrett. Allen talks about his health, Greg Oden, Blazers President Larry Miller's role in the Wesley Matthews signing and his expectations for next year, among other topics. The words "Kevin" and "Pritchard" do not make an appearance in the 9+ minute long interview.
Barrett's questions are paraphrased and appear in bold type. Allen's answers are word-for-word and appear in blockquote. Watch the video here.
Last year was a tough year with all the injuries
Of course I was going through a tough period in my life too. All the injuries we had, from Coach McMillan, Greg [Oden] and Joel [Przybilla] and all those different things that happened last year, it was just amazing that we were able to persevere through all that. Everybody stuck together and supported each other and we ended up having a very successful regular season, unfortunately we got eliminated in the playoffs. It was a special year in terms of the feeling you had everybody supporting everybody else during all the tough stuff we went through.
Do you think positives were gained during the situation when times were tough?
I do. I think that it's really a testament to the character of the people involved. Because you have to stay positive, you have to approach everything professionally. There's this bonding feeling you get when we take another hard punch and we're going to get back up and keep fighting, and keep persevering. Different guys stepped up at different times of the year, whether it was Dante Cunningham or Juwan Howard, guys that were given more of an opportunity, Jerryd [Bayless], lots of different guys took their opportunities and were able to contribute. That was great to see too.
I'm doing great. I just had a test this week, a follow up test, and it was clean. It brought a smile to my face as you can imagine. Those are a bit nerve-wracking but I'm just happy to be here and be happy, feeling better than I have in a long time.
Owning a team must be therapeutic
It is therapeutic and it gives you something that completely takes your mind off whatever other things you're having to go through. You can root for your team, if you're involved with the organization you can go back in the locker room and tell the guys you're thinking about them, and that was really important to me.
New personnel changes
Well I think the draft, that's always interesting to bring in new players and see how they're going to contribute. I think we've got some players in Luke [Babbitt} and Elliot [Williams] who hopefully can make a good contribution this year. It was a really challenging draft process but we got through it and found some good players. I've been hearing some good things about them and their potential to develop.
Then, of course, we signed Wes Matthews to a very substantial offer sheet which wasn't matched. That was a bit nerve-wracking and we all speculated about whether it would happen or not. But he was the player that we targeted and really wanted to get. We talked to all the basketball staff, [Blazers President] Larry [Miller] was a key part of that decision too, we all put our heads together and concluded that he was the player that could really help us next year. I'm really excited to see... I watched him just a tiny bit on practice tape and I'm excited to see preseason get started as I always am.
Rich Cho is your new GM. He must have been a great interview
I don't do many job interviews in Helsinki. But it went off very well. I think Rich comes from a very interesting background, from engineering and analytical things, as well as being around basketball. He's very steady, he's very thoughtful and he really works well with people. I think he's fit right in here very smoothly and I think the fans are going to enjoy hearing what he has to say about the team and its development.
Was it really a four-hour long interview?
It was pretty long. I'm pretty good at asking questions and I think I went through just about every question I could. I asked him to fire away and ask me questions too. It was a really good interchange. He had just flown in from Las Vegas and I think he was running on fumes a bit but he hung in there, we had a great interview and everything worked out.
Because of all the injuries we're recovering from it's really hard to pin down. We would love to get a great contribution from Greg this year. He's gone more than the extra mile to get in shape and get ready to go. You've got Joel who is also rehabilitating. Of course Brandon [Roy] had a few issues there at the end of the season too. It's going to be very interesting to see how they come back. So far I'm hearing very encouraging things. It would be so great to see them back out there playing 100%.
If everything clicks, and you haven't touched on it yet but it's probably your next question, we have some new assistant coaches too, a little change with the basketball staff, we have some guys coming back and hopefully being 100% healthy, this could be a great year. Given the challenges of last year you have to keep an eye out for that and make sure everybody stays healthy. We're doing the best we can there and bringing the guys along slowly.
New assistants include former Blazer Buck Williams
Buck is a great person and a really tough competitor. I'm sure some of that will rub off on our younger big people like Greg. I'm sure he will help Greg a lot. I remember one time, I think we won a series in Phoenix, to go play in the Finals and Buck came up and gave me a hug and I just about gasped because I had no air left in my lungs. It's great to have Buck back and I'm looking forward to his contribution.
You must be as passionate as ever to be an owner
I'm really, really excited to be looking forward to the season, myself being completely healthy now too. Going to the games helped me get through last year in a big way, I'm just looking forward to being really be able to enjoy it to the maximum this year.
Donating major chunk of estate to charity
It was something that I talked to Bill Gates about. I had always been planning to do it in any case. But it was a good time because of what Bill and Warren Buffett have been doing to announce their philanthropic gifts. I have a special interest in brain research and some other areas, giving back to local communities in the Northwest, both in Seattle and Portland and other parts of the Northwest. I just thought it was the right time. It was also an anniversary of our family's foundation giving. I think it's a real positive thing to be able to talk about. It's all about giving back and I'm very excited to be able to do that.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter