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Patterson likes life after Blazers

Ex-president-GM stays in town, makes up for vacationless decade
by: CHRISTOPHER ONSTOTT, Ten months after resigning from the Blazers, Steve Patterson has traveled with his family and done some consulting work. He says he and his family may continue to live here.

Those who figured Steve Patterson might ride the first rail out of town were wrong. Ten months after resigning as president and general manager of the Trail Blazers, Patterson, wife Yasmin and their two teenage sons still live in Lake Oswego. They might even stay. “The family likes it here,” says Patterson, 50. “There are a lot of people who want me to stay here. I’ve had some interesting business opportunities. “We’ll see.” For the first six months after Patterson left the Blazers, he traveled — sometimes with Yasmin, sometimes with the entire family. He ticks off the spots: Italy; Mexico; Texas; Colorado; Lake Tahoe; Sun Valley, Idaho; Bandon. “It’s been great,” Patterson says. “It was 10 years without a vacation, literally. We decided to take six months and see a lot of fun places, including a lot of the state of Oregon. “I really wanted to take some time off and get away from things. When you’re in a business like the NBA, it’s a 24/7/365 job. It’s been healthy for me to step out of it and get some perspective.” The 6-5 Patterson weighs 195 pounds, 40 less than when he arrived in Portland in 2003. Stress? “No,” he says with a laugh. He practices yoga and walks for exercise daily, skis and has paid closer attention to his diet. “My weight is where it should be,” he says. Clashes with Vulcan staff The last few months, Patterson says he has spoken about potential jobs with representatives of clubs from the NBA, NFL, NHL, Major League Baseball and professional soccer. He says he has done some consulting work for clubs in hockey, baseball and soccer. “If the right situation comes up, I’ll take it,” he says. “I’m enjoying life as it is right now. “I’m not in a rush. I’ve been very fortunate to be in a position financially where I don’t have to rush into something.” After nearly four years on the job in Portland, it became clear Paul Allen wouldn’t rehire Patterson, who resigned last March. Patterson says his problems weren’t with the owner but with some key members of Allen’s administrative staff at Vulcan Enterprises. Could Patterson have stayed? “Given the environment with everybody at Vulcan, no,” Patterson says. He pauses, then adds, “People are lucky that Paul didn’t sell the club. I don’t think people appreciate how lucky (the Blazers) are to have Paul as owner, or (Vulcan CEO) Tod Leiweke as part of the organization.” Patterson presided over the Blazers during the dark days when Allen, complaining that his NBA franchise was “hemorrhaging money,” gave up the Rose Garden to creditors and put the team up for sale. How close was Allen to selling? “We went through the process,” Patterson says, with a shrug. “Only Paul knows for sure. But emotionally, he certainly never wanted to sell the club.” ‘It’s cleaned up’ Patterson’s public image eroded through his years in Portland, as did his relationship with some of the media. He says he has no regrets and is proud of what he accomplished. “I got done what I came here to get done,” he says. “We got under the luxury tax, we became a young team, got rid of the shaky guys and got the arena back. And the business was $100 million a year better off than when I came here. “I had to come in and clean up a mess. It’s cleaned up. The club is moving in the right direction. The franchise is on good footing now.” Patterson says he hasn’t spoken with Allen since leaving the Blazers, nor has he been to a game in the Rose Garden. “But when I’m in town, I pay attention to the games,” Patterson says. “It’s genuinely good to see the young guys come together, and Nate (McMillan) has done a great job. He ought to be the coach of the year. Brandon (Roy) is the real deal and has come along even faster than I thought, and LaMarcus (Aldridge) is going to be every bit as good. “I feel good about (the team’s success). This is the team we put together. We moved out the guys we needed to move out. We did what we said we would do — bring in good, young guys who could be embraced by the community.”