My letter to Blazers re: Sterling

Inspired by Dave's call to stand tall against bigotry, I wrote and sent this letter to the team today.

Christopher McGowan, President

Neil Olshey, General Manager

John Goodwin, Premium Season Ticket Services Liaison

Portland Trailblazers

One Center Court, Suite 200

Portland, OR 97227

Dear Messrs McGowan, Olshey and Goodwin:

I am a first year season-ticket holder in the Club section, and have renewed and upgraded my seats for next season as well. As I’m sure everyone at the Trailblazers organization is, I could not be more pleased with the performance of the team, coaching staff and management group this year—I am writing after perhaps the most heart-stopping game of the season in Game 4 vs the Rockets, and even if the team discovers themselves at the short end of the stick when the series ends, this season has been a magnificient success and marker for the future.

However, as I’m sure you’re also aware, the most exciting overall NBA Playoffs in years has been badly marred by the release of an audiotape purporting to record the words of Donald Sterling, owner of the Los Angeles Clippers. There is no apparent connection to anyone in the Blazers organization regarding the tape or other allegations against the Clippers or Mr. Sterling, but I do know that Mr. Olshey came to us from the Clippers, and alongside his more personal interest I am confident that the entire Trailblazers organization views this incident with concern and dismay.

As a season ticket holder and thus something of a "shareholder" in the organization, I tool feel dismayed but also a sense of responsibility. If the allegations are borne out and reflect a real and serious issue of prejudice within an NBA team, anyone who subsidizes the league with their interest and money should consider their role in how these events must be responded to.

I do not wish to direct top management of the Blazers on how they must respond, but I do feel that both a statement of distancing, and efforts within league channels at remediation and prevention for the future, are highly warranted in this case. It is IMPERATIVE that fans and the public understand that bigotry has NO place in the NBA—either on the court or off, players, management or ownership. It is true that people have a right to their opinions, but opinions given by those with a highly influencing effect on the image of the league should not be free of reaction when that impact is clearly disparaging.

Portland is a special city, one that has a special relationship with its sports teams. We demand excellence, and beyond that, effort—but first and foremost, we demand character and integrity worthy of the city that sponsors it with its collective dollars and affections. Longtime members of the Blazers community remember all too well the nicknames the team got when it showed a greater propensity for arrests than playoff wins, and I’m sure the team remembers the effect it had on ticket sales. To their enormous credit, Mr. Allen and the ownership team made a conscious effort to redirect the Blazers profile into one the city could be proud of. To watch our group of 15 men battle so hard as a team, together and with unity rarely seen in NBA locker rooms, makes the victories and achievements infinitely more special to us.

In that vein, I’d also like to recognize the passing of Dr. Jack Ramsay today, perhaps the one person who embodied everything about the Trail Blazers that makes them unique in the NBA. Dr. Jack was about playing together, relying on each other and working for a common cause. We have the responsibility to the memory of Dr. Jack, to preserve and extend those ideals, and to stand as a model for how we think major professional sports should be played.

Thank you for your time and interest in reading this letter. I look forward to a response from the Trail Blazers that adequately reflects the position of the team and community: standing as one against bigotry and hatred. It has no place in society, and certainly has no place in today’s NBA.

Thank you and Sincerely,