During the win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday, Portland Trail Blazer players took note of an important figure sitting courtside: Jody Allen, the sister of the late Paul Allen, reports Jason Quick of the Athletic. According to Quick, it marked the first time that the team’s new owner had attended a game since her brother’s death due to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in October. Jody Allen took over ownership of the team following his death. Sitting courtside with Bert Kolde, Allen enjoyed the game, but missed the presence of her brother.
Sunday was the first time she has attended a game since his passing.
“Fantastic. Amazing,” she said as she left pandemonium on the court. “The team played so well. I’m really, really proud to be here, but I have to say, I also really miss my brother. He would have loved to be in that seat next to me.”
She wore black and red and clapped as the Blazers bolted to a 47-28 lead, with Lillard, CJ McCollum and Seth Curry seemingly hitting every shot from 3-point range. And she clasped and wrung her hands together with the rest of us when that lead was only 93-92 with 2:43 left. And throughout, she had a back-and-forth with Bert Kolde, a director on the team’s board and close friend of Paul’s, with Kolde using his hands to explain various nuances of the game.
Quick explores the meaning behind Jody Allen’s presence, reflecting on how much her brother loved the team he owned, and the players on the court. In 2016, following their last playoff win, Paul Allen gave a speech that stuck with the players.
While Allen was sick this fall, he would watch videotape of the team’s practices and preseason games. And after he passed in October, Olshey remarked that he was particularly attached to this group. There was something about the underdog that Allen loved. That core — Lillard, McCollum, Harkless and Aminu — had a place in his heart. And he was excited about the potential of Jake Layman. He loved the toughness of Zach Collins. And who isn’t drawn to the personality of Evan Turner?
The thing is, it was a two-way relationship. That speech three years ago in the Oracle locker room, and the passion he showed the players who joined after, resonated with this group. Throughout this year, Paul would come up every once in a while among the players. They talked about his curiosity. His imagination. And, more than anything, the love they felt from him. He made them feel important.
While the playoff win certainly meant a lot to Rip City, Quick reports that the players and Coach Terry Stotts are also thinking about how much it would have meant to Paul Allen.
You can read the rest of Quick’s piece here.