A Hall honor for patriarch Glickman
I'm not sure anyone has shaped sports in the state of Oregon more than Harry Glickman.
The Trail Blazers' patriarch, who is being honored Tuesday night at the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame banquet at Multnomah Athletic Club, is the end-all, be-all for a vast assortment of athletic endeavors in our state's sports history.
Glickman is the man responsible for bringing Portland's only major league franchise to town. He put together the ownership group, then served as the Blazers' president and general manager for many years.
But there is so much more to Glickman's resume.
After graduation from Oregon in 1948, he became a boxing promoter, putting together a run of successful cards in Portland over a period of five years.
From 1952-69, after founding "Oregon Sports Attractions" promotional firm, he staged 28 NFL preseason games at Multnomah Stadium (now Providence Park). Had the Delta Dome bond measures passed in 1964 — they were defeated by about 10,000 votes — Portland would have landed an NFL franchise, and I'll bet Glickman would have been the guiding force.
In 1959, after a bond measure approved the construction of Memorial Coliseum, he acquired the New Westminster, British Columbia, franchise of the Western Hockey League and turned it into the Portland Buckaroos. In 13 years, the Bucks won the WHL regular-season title nine times and three Lester Patrick Cups, making them the darlings of the city's sports fans. They were the Blazers before the Blazers.
Glickman was a voice of reason in the Blazers' front office for more than two decades, helping deliver the 1977 NBA title and the two NBA championship series appearances in the early '90s.
There will be no Oregon Sports Hall of Fame induction for Glickman Tuesday night. That happened more than 30 years ago. This is merely a well-deserved salute to a man whose contributions to our sporting landscape should never be forgotten.
And to think his goal after graduation from Lincoln High was to become a sports writer.
Accolades have been numerous. He is a member of the International Jewish Sportsman Hall of Fame in Israel. He was named Portland's First Citizen in 1993 and a U of O Pioneer Award winner in 2012.
In 2013, Glickman was nominated for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. He didn't make it, which disappointed me, but not Harry.
"I didn't think I was deserving," he says. "That's OK. I've received plenty of awards and honors. I'm very happy."
Glickman is now 93, confined to a wheelchair since suffering a stroke three years ago. How does he feel his health is these days?
"Great," he says. "I'm in a wheelchair, but other than that, I'm still feeling good. I do physical therapy once a week with (former Blazer trainer) Jay Jensen at the MAC Club."
Glickman says he is surprised to live this long, "but my family's genes are very good. Both of my parents lived to the age of 87."
They were divorced when Harry was 5, and he was raised as an only child by his mother, Bessie, who worked as a "finisher" in the lady's garment industry all through the Great Depression. Harry always loved sports, and he was all too happy to make it a career.
What is he most proud of?
"The Buckaroos becoming a dynasty, and the Blazers winning the NBA championship," Glickman says. "I'd rate them about equal."
The Buckaroos, he says, "made Memorial Coliseum. They were a heck of a team. I define a dynasty as being successful for a period of years. There have been only two dynasties in Oregon in my time — the Buckaroos and Linfield football. There are others on the cusp — Oregon State baseball, Oregon track and University of Portland soccer."
"Not really," Glickman says. "I've been so fortunate. Most of the things I've done happened pretty much by accident. I became a press agent and ran into a guy here and there, and it all worked out real good."
Glickman has always been a relationship guy, from the early days with boxing's Jack Hurley and Tex Salkeld, to greyhound racing's Murray Kemp, to his association with many people who helped him put together the deals that drew the Buckaroos and Blazers to his hometown.
The most important relationship, of course, has been with Joanne, his wife of 57 years.
"Eighty-five years old, and she still looks damn good," Harry says with a chuckle. "We've had a great run."
All three of Glickman's children — Jennifer, Lynn and Marshall — live in Portland. Marshall's son, Laz, plays football at Lake Oswego High.
"He's the starting center," says Harry, who attended his first two games. "And he's a great piano player, too."
Harry and Joanne attended about half of the Blazers' home games last season, sitting in their familiar front-row seat. When we last sat down for an interview in 2013, Harry spoke harshly about owner Paul Allen, advocating for a sale of the team. "I don't think they'll be in really good hands until Paul sells the team," Glickman said then. "He's done his thing. It's time for a change."
Does Glickman still feel the same way?
"I don't know if they need to change ownership or management, but something different has to happen," he says. "It's been going the way it is without much success now for a long time.
"They've been OK. They've reached the playoffs, but they can't seem to get over the hump. It's getting to the point where that's not enough anymore. You have to get to the conference finals or (NBA) Finals, or you're not doing what you need to do."
Glickman's days are still well-spent.
"I can't read well anymore, so I listen to a lot of books," he says. "I'm listening to one now about the New York Yankees empire. I play a little cards. We go out to dinner once or twice a week. Things are OK."
I'm glad about that. Harry Glickman has always been a class act. He left an indelible mark on our state's sports heritage. Beyond that, he was always about doing the right thing. To me, that means more than just about anything.
It's nice he is being recognized again for his contributions. That can't happen too many times for an iconic figure who helped enrich so many people's lives.
Thank you, Harry Glickman.