Yesterday the Portland Trail Blazers introduced new Head Coach Chauncey Billups in a press conference led by President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey. The event carried the burden of answering concerns over a civil lawsuit Billups settled in 2000 regarding an accusation of sexual assault in 1997, when he was a rookie with the Boston Celtics. Both members of the wider Blazers community and media members had expressed concern over the hiring. The organization understood that questions were coming.
Billlups and Olshey addressed the matter during their opening remarks, but shut down further inquiries by the media, leading to frustration and consternation among many observers.
In today’s Dave and Dia Podcast, co-hosts Dave Deckard and Dia Miller share their thoughts about the press conference. They examine it from a public relations standpoint, its effect on fans and listeners, and the not-so-veiled message to people with questions, especially victims of assault or sexual violence. Whether the event succeed or failed depended on what it was designed to do. Dave and Dia look at the set-up, the statements of both participants, and the reactions to media questions, positing that the press conference did exactly what it was meant to do.
Most observers concentrated on the team refusing (in obvious and pre-planned fashion) to respond to inquiries. The actual comments were either praised or given a pass. If you listen closely, perhaps they shouldn’t have been. A consistent line ran through the event, and it was neither empathetic nor pretty.
If you’re at all interested in these issues, or want to learn something about the reality of dealing with sexual assault in the world at large—or just being a woman in the male-dominated world of sports and sports media—you need to listen to this podcast. There’s an argument to be made that EVERYTHING about the day, including the post-event analysis, was part of the problem...a problem that needs addressing not just here, but across the NBA.
You can listen to the episode by clicking here or on the embed below.