Activist and team president discuss front-office hiring

A Portland man campaigning for the Trail Blazers to hire more blacks for front-office roles met Wednesday with new team President Steve Patterson.

R.C. Burke, who has taken his cause to the Internet by e-mailing and posting a petition, said he and Patterson talked in the president's Rose Quarter office for more than an hour.

'He said he noticed right away that there were problems here, that things were different than in Houston when he was general manager of the Rockets,' Burke said. 'He said, 'Give me a chance' but said he can't just come in and hire 20 guys.'

Burke has said that a boycott of the Blazers might be a way to pressure the team into placing more blacks in management. However, after talking to Patterson, a call for that option seemed to be on hold.

'We didn't talk about a time frame for change,' Burke said, 'but I came away thinking he is a fair man. I got a positive vibe from him. If things don't happen eventually, I can always go back to the Internet.'

Burke said he has collected more than 45,000 e-mails or signatures to a petition that called on the Blazers to hire former star power forward Maurice Lucas as general manager. Burke said he continues to receive 1,000 or more e-mails a day on the subject at his e-mail address, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The Blazers recently hired John Nash as their new GM.

'I thought it went fine,' Patterson said of the meeting. 'He (Burke) had an opportunity to express his questions and concerns and get some background about the organization and my background.'

Patterson said six of the Blazers' top 11 senior managers are from 'protected classes ÑÊeither African-American, female, American Indian, Hispanic, etc.'

The Blazers, he said, 'have certainly made an effort to be inclusive.'

Burke said that Patterson told him he 'went through a list of about six African-Americans who were interested in the GM job' but that Lucas, a key member of the Blazers' 1977 NBA champions, wasn't one of the candidates.

'We do want our former Blazer players involved,' Patterson said. 'Maurice can call me anytime.'

Contact Steve Brandon at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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