Idaho Stampede Managing Investor Bill Ilett joined KTIK Radio 93.1 FM in Boise to discuss a recent Idaho Statesman article in which he expressed some frustration with his D-League team's play and his relationship with the Portland Trail Blazers, who serve as a parent club under a "hybrid" relationship. That deal, new for this season, allows the Blazers to run basketball operations while the Stampede's ownership group runs business operations.
In the radio interview, Ilett repeated some of his frustrations but took a little bit more of a conciliatory tone.
You said in the article that the entertainment value has slipped at games
Let me say that I don't want to villainize the Portland Trail Blazers over this. They are a fine small-market organization and we campaigned hard to get a hybrid with them. I want to go into this thing with an open mind. We are in the entertainment business, it's showcased around a basketball venue and the people in Boise are used to getting the entertainment around the court, but also they expect a winning team and some excitement on the court to get the thing started. That's what's slipped with us a little bit this year. We've got to get the traction back.
What's different this year?
It is the worst record that we've had in the 15-year franchise history. That's concerning. The other thing is that we're hoping bringing this to everyone's attention, that we hope to get this going the right way. Let's get some wins on the court and get things finishing out strong on this. The little difference with the Trail Blazers, and they're a great organization, is they probably have more patience than I do or our fans do. They measure things in months and years and we measure things in days and weeks.
There's two cultures there that need to come together. We need to figure out what they want. They came into this because they want to develop players. We know that and we appreciate that. We've got to always keep that in mind. At the same token, there's got to be respect for our franchise and our long history. We've had eight playoff appearances, played in two championship games, won a championship. They've got to appreciate where we're at. Whenever you take on a business partner, the partners need to sit down after going through some rough times and see how we can help each other.
You want to have meetings with the Blazers
I think now that the problem has been identified and come full circle, we have tentatively a telephone call coming later this week. We have to just understand each other's problems. We've got to develop their players but we've got to make sure we don't mess up the chemistry of this team. This is probably one of the most talented teams we've had in years. Credit to the Trail Blazers for putting this group together. They are great athletes. You can do Xs and Os and run stats all you want, but if you don't keep the chemistry in your team, you've got problems.
Can you fix chemistry?
I can't directly do that. We've given that [basketball operations authority] up. In a good partnership and an understanding, it does't take that much to fix it. When they sent their players down, my suggestion is to leave them just a little bit longer. Let the community know who these guys are. I was in Portland last night and saw the Trail Blazers play Oklahoma. Some of the kids who have been down here played last night. What great athletes. The fans would like to figure out what the faces are and the names on the back of the jerseys. Leave them a little bit longer. Let our guys play a little bit more.
Give coach [Michael] Peck a chance to coach. I don't think anybody can be too critical of coach because he hasn't really had the chance to coach a team yet. If somebody asked me if he's a good coach or a bad coach, I can't comment. He hasn't had a chance to work his team. Give us a little bit of that, let us do the other things.
Are the Blazers receptive to leaving players down there longer?
I certainly hope so. They're not going to change what they do because they want to develop players. Just give us a little more opportunity to let them be a part of our community and team, that's all we're asking. Hopefully they'll see that point. You guys know me well enough, I get my back up a little bit. I probably have been a little bit too boisterous and ornery with them. I need to take a pill and relax and try to help them. Like any other partnership.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter