No reply from Paul Allen? No problem

I get frequent e-mails from people offering me a chance to help them spirit money out of foreign countries, increase the number of hits on our Web site and buy cheap software. But so far, not a single e-mail from Trail Blazer owner Paul Allen.

That's no surprise, of course. Allen isn't much of a communicator with the media, and since making a decision to take his team off the market, the big guy has gone underground.

But I'm guessing - and guess is what you do with Allen, because even the people working for him have no idea what he'll do next - that if he was going to send me an e-mail, it would go something like this:

'Hi, Dwight,

'Hey listen, sorry it's been so long since we've talked, but you know I don't value your opinions much - other than that one column you wrote a few months back telling me I should reconsider selling the team. You were right, of course.

'Heck, I'm burning through my money studying the brains of mice, doing UFO research and sending people into space. I can certainly afford to lose a few hundred more million on this basketball team - which is almost as much fun as that mice stuff. And that brings me to my next point.

'I was sitting there in the draft room in June and it hit me - I can have a whole lot more fun with this team if I get more deeply involved. I was manipulating trades all over the place, and with John Gabriel and Kevin Pritchard around to make the phone calls and do the leg work, it doesn't really take up all that much time, anyway.

'I've still got that Patterson guy to handle the business side of the operation for another season, and why not just give him the nominal title of 'General Manager' - since owners don't actually get to have the title?

'But what do titles mean to me? Nothing. All these guys in the office can have all the titles they want. What's it matter who the general manager is as long as I can get to do all the trading and make all the personnel decisions? And really, if we make a bad deal, I've got the general manager to blame! I can't lose, you see.

'Pretty funny stuff, that everyone got so worked up over the whole GM thing, anyway. I mean, even when Bob Whitsitt was down there, I was pulling all the strings. Don't you see, as long as I own the team, it doesn't matter who the GM is! We haven't had a good one since Geoff Petrie quit, and he had some haughty idea that he wanted to make his own basketball decisions.

'Now, though, I've got it all set up for my maximum benefit. I feel like I did when I was 6 years old and my mom bought me my first set of Army men. I spread them out on the floor of my bedroom and played for days. It's like having the whole set of basketball cards and being able to trade them whenever you want - only they're real people!

'I not only own the team, I get all the fun of manipulating it, too. I'm going to be hands-on - even from the deck of the yacht or the cockpit of a space ship. I'm THE MAN.

'And, hey, smart guy, the answer is, yes - the financial model is still broken. I could still use some help from the city, the mortgage holders, anyone who wants to contribute. And to keep you from making fun of that, I've copyrighted the phrase. From now on, pal, it's Broken Financial Model™.

'See you at the games, but don't ever try to talk to me, you bumpkin. And remember - it's MY team. Not yours. Not Portland's. It's mine. MINE!

'Yours truly,


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