Portland Trail Blazers COO Sarah Mensah has resigned. Mensah announced the decision on her Twitter account.
After 19 amazing years its time to call it quits. Thanks Blazers team and fans for some amazing memories.
The Blazers issued a press release confirming the move.
After a long-standing and substantial career with the Portland Trail Blazers, Sarah Mensah, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, has resigned after 19 years with the organization. "Mensah's departure is effective at the end of this month," said Trail Blazers President and Chief Executive Officer Chris McGowan. Day-to-day management of the team's business, revenue and brand management operations, including ticket sales and service, corporate sales and service, suite sales and service, marketing, communications, community relations, broadcasting, game operations and digital communications will move under McGowan's leadership.
"Sarah's vision, creativity and steadfast determination were essential components of an outstanding career with the Trail Blazers," said McGowan. "Her impact on our organization was profound. The Portland Trail Blazers are grateful for her service and commitment to excellence for 19 years."
"As the Trail Blazers begin a new chapter, the time is right for me to step down," said Mensah. "There is a great new leadership team in General Manager Neil Olshey, Head Coach Terry Stotts, and President Chris McGowan. I want to thank Paul Allen for giving me the opportunity to lead and for always providing the team with the necessary tools to innovate and achieve both on and off-court success."
"Sarah leaves an indelible mark on the Trail Blazers, the NBA and indeed professional sports," said Trail Blazers owner Paul G. Allen. "She was a guiding force through some of the Trail Blazers' most pivotal years in terms of growth, development and impact. Sarah will be missed by the entire Trail Blazers family, and we wish her continued success in the next chapter of her professional life."
Joe Freeman of The Oregonian first reported the news on Twitter.
Mensah was a key lieutenant under former president Larry Miller, who resigned his position in July to return to Nike's Jordan Brand shortly after the Blazers hired Neil Olshey as GM.
Sources told Blazersedge at that time that both Miller and Mensah were opposed to the hire.
According to sources, Miller and Mensah were both opposed to the hiring of GM Neil Olshey at times during the team's search process, which dated back to the firing of Rich Cho in May 2011. Blazers owner Paul Allen's key adviser, Bert Kolde, was the driving force behind the hiring of Olshey in June 2012.
"I lost that one," Miller told a confidante in recent weeks.
The Blazers announced the hiring of president Chris McGowan back in October. Mensah had been thought to be a candidate for that position.
Mensah's pet projects included the team's online video channel, TrailBlazers.TV, and she was a driving force behind the "Make it Better" and "Rip City United" campaigns. A Portland native, she had worked with the Blazers for nearly two decades. She was one of the highest-ranking African-American female executives in professional sports.
Mensah was known as a hard-driving executive who liked to exert influence over all aspects of the organization. Influential members of the organization have bristled over the years at her over-reaching; that approach was seemingly incompatible with Olshey's expressed desire to possess total influence over basketball operations. In recent years, Mensah operated with the backing of Miller; his departure significantly changed the power dynamics with regard to her position.
This management overhaul represents a time of uncertainty for Blazers employees. In addition to Miller and Mensah, the Blazers recently announced the resignation of top lawyer, Mike Fennell, in October and Senior VP J.E. Isaac resigned in June 2011. The new leadership team, Olshey and McGowan, has no previous ties to the city or organization, the roster is in a rebuilding cycle, tickets are being made available at steep discounts through endless promotions and on secondary websites, and McGowan has made no secret of his close relationship with Vulcan and his desire to improve the franchise's bottom line. Add it up, and it's an unsettling combination.
Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com reports this statement from Mensah.
"It's been 20 years and all good things must come to an end," Mensah told CSNNW.com. "I'm going to take a few months to evaluate where I'm at before deciding on what to do next. There's no secret that I love the NBA, I'm partial to it, I love the business and love being a part of it. I would love to stay in Portland. Right now, I'm just going to take some time and evaluate."
Mensah says she felt she mastered all there was to master at this point in her career and that was the main reason for her decision.
Joe Freeman of The Oregonian reported this quote from Mensah.
"After 19 years, not to be able to get fitted for a ring, that was disappointing," Mensah said. "We all remember that big billboard with Greg (Oden) and Brandon (Roy) and LaMarcus (Aldridge) and we could all feel and taste a championship. That that didn't come to fruition was pretty disappointing."
Back in April, Mensah offered this view of the future for the Blazers in an interview with Blazersedge.
Next year at this time, Mensah hopes, the Blazers and their fans will have an organization-wide comeback to celebrate.
"I think the story goes like this: coming out of the lockout there was a lot of excitement about the Trail Blazers. It wasn't to be. And yet the team made some very difficult, painful and, in some cases, dramatic changes and sacrifices to put the team in a position to be able to capitalize in the Draft and free agency. They went out and found an amazing leader in a new GM, who ended up hiring a coach. They put together a brilliant off-court plan. The team came back and demonstrated Trail Blazers basketball for this community. Fans came back and showed their support and love for the team."
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter