Those members of the media granted an audience with Bob Whitsitt during retirement Wednesday at the Rose Quarter Ñ that is, just about anyone not affiliated with the Tribune or KPAM radio Ñ heard volumes of spin control and fallacy perpetuated by the man who has run the Trail Blazer organization into the ground over the past nine years.
It is important to examine Whitsitt's parting words at something more than face value, because the man long ago perfected the art of speaking with forked tongue.
A few examples:
• 'This was my idea.'
Whitsitt's real idea was to stay on the job and ride the gravy train as long as he could. Somehow, public pressure finally made an impression on owner Paul Allen after all these years, it seems.
• 'We need a Portland-based president and GM.'
Funny, this was what many of us have stressed from the start, as an out-of-touch Whitsitt has maintained his home in Seattle. Whitsitt now acts as if he knew it all along.
• 'I am a risk taker. I am aggressive. I get good players, but too many of the guys had issues that we weren't able to change them enough to the positive. That is something we feel bad and embarrassed about. The character, the conduct, the image, the behavior Ñ that all has to be as important as how good a player they are.'
Had Whitsitt actually operated by that philosophy through the years, he might never have been removed from office.
• 'I am a good evaluator of talent. I am a great deal maker. I have always found ways to get things done.'
Through 17 years as a general manager, Whitsitt never had a team reach the NBA Finals. What exactly did he get done?
• 'I have always been very honest about evaluating myself.'
Never trust a guy who says this.
• 'I am probably my hardest critic.'
Not as long as Dwight Jaynes is around.
• 'I have been running a basketball team, a couple of arenas, a number of other businesses in Portland and an NFL team. Any one of those is a full-time job. It is too much for one person to do.'
As Rasheed Wallace would say, let the truth come to the light.
• 'I wasn't fired. If I were fired, we would say, 'Bob was fired.' The word I use is retirement.'
Whatever. When does the pension kick in?
• 'I am retiring from the NBA on July 1. When I get a million calls this week from people wanting me to run their basketball team, I am saying, 'No, I am truly putting my heart and soul into the Seahawks franchise as I transition away from the Blazers.' '
Such self-aggrandizement is laughable. People throughout the NBA know Whitsitt all too well. If somebody is dumb enough to hire him to run another NBA franchise elsewhere, at least it becomes their problem, not ours.
• 'I was not able to spend the extra time in Portland I wanted to spend, doing all the things in the community, because I have been running a number of companies in two markets. In nine years in Portland, I have played zero rounds of golf here. I just physically haven't had the time.'
The folks out at Pumpkin Ridge hardly knew him.
• 'You can line up the 9 million deals I have done, and most of them have been pretty good.'
See adjacent box for a decidedly different analysis.
• 'I hope I am totally done (running the Blazers). If we don't have a new GM by July 1, of course I will keep doing my job. If we can get a GM in the next couple of weeks, and by the week of the draft I am not needed, I will sit in the draft room and eat pizza and be OK.'
If there is a new GM on board, why would he sit in the Blazer draft room? Down your pepperoni and sausage at home in Seattle, for goodness' sake.
• 'I think there's the same passion for the Blazers here that there was 10 years ago. There's a whole different atmosphere in the community and the building and the locker room than there was a few months ago. The key is to sustain it.'
Out of sight, out of touch.
• 'I am not looking to take a bow, but I certainly don't run from the criticism.'
Thanks for having the courage to let us in with the rest of the media to bid you farewell, Traitor Bob.