Blog Entry

Paul Allen emerges as latest lockout villain

Posted on: October 21, 2011 12:08 am
Edited on: October 21, 2011 3:22 pm
Posted by Ben Golliver

The NBA lockout gained its first true villain when Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett allegedly helped hijack labor talks a week or so ago. (NBA commissioner David Stern and NBPA executive director Billy Hunter have been reviled for so long that they don't count as villains any more.)

Garnett, the story went, interjected into the discussions to stamp his foot down and launch into one of his patented intimidation acts, sending a message to both the league's owners and his own union leadership that he was there to draw a line in the sand. Garnett caught hell for this story, of course, because he's a bully on the court, he's stubborn, he's a little bit off his rocker, he was called uninformed as to the state of earlier negotiations and, most importantly, he's rich beyond his wildest dreams, having netted career NBA earnings of more than $200 million. 

But everything said about Garnett goes double, triple, or one hundred fold, for Portland Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen. And, wouldn't you know it, Allen emerged on Thursday as the latest villain of the ongoing NBA lockout charade.

Hunter said in a news conference that Allen was tasked with telling the players union that the owners would refuse to negotiate if the players would not agree to a 50/50 revenue split. Hunter said he responded by asking whether they could table that issue to return to a discussion of system issues, and Allen only responded with silence. Shortly thereafter, talks broke down.

Allen is Garnett on steroids.

You want stubborn? Allen rode his pipe dream of running a cable company all the way to the ground, losing billions of dollars and eventually declaring bankruptcy.

You want off his rocker? He's currently being sued by his own ex-military bodyguards amidst allegations of illegal activity, his helicopter recently crashed during an excursion to Antarctica and, oh yeah, he's gone through two general managers and a vice president of basketball operations since the 2010 NBA Draft. He passes his time, including on Thursday morning, exchanging tweets about what rock song the Seattle Seahawks, his NFL franchise, should play at practice. Carroll plays along, of course, because he, like every Allen employee, knows his job depends on it.

You want "uninformed" on the state of the negotiations? Allen deputized team president Larry Miller to attend Board of Governors meetings and labor negotiations on his behalf. He put exactly the same amount of blood, sweat and tears into the possibility of a labor agreement as Garnett: none. 

You want emotional? Allen recently wrote an autiobiography that included many unflattering stories about, and a recounting of decades-old grudges towards, his Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, one of the world's greatest philanthropists. The book led to a falling out between the two men, who had been friends since high school, with Allen admitting during a television interview that Gates had stopped talking to him.

And, of course, there's the money issue. All you need to know about that is that Allen has a private island for sale, owns multiple yachts (one of which cost $200 million to make, nearly as much money as Garnett has earned during his NBA career), and has a helipad on the roof of the Rose Garden, Portland's home arena. Forbes pegged his net worth at $13.2 billion on a recent list of the 400 richest Americans, a figure that made him worth more than the next two richest NBA owners on the list, combined. 

Why, you might be asking, would the owners pick Allen, of all people, to deliver the hard-line message to the union that ultimately led to the disintegration of talks and all sorts of harsh accusations on Thursday?

Because he's so rich that he's immune to the criticism, as capable of buying silence and peace of mind for himself as anyone on the planet. A man who has been cleanly divorced from the common man for decades. A man who claims to have lost a billion dollars on the Blazers in his two decades of ownership and therefore couldn't care less about the fallout that results from a nuclear explosion in the middle of labor talks.

Allen refused to take questions from the media after firing GM Kevin Pritchard on the night of the 2010 NBA Draft and again refused questions when he abruptly fired GM Rich Cho in May. He doesn't care about accountability and he definitely doesn't care about the notion of a "fair deal for both sides." All he cares about, in the end, is pursuing his own self-interest to the max. Allen answers to no one, ever. If he can toss aside a childhood friend, business partner and colleague like Bill Gates, why are we or the NBPA surprised in the slightest that he is only willing to negotiate on his terms? Everything is take it or leave it with him.

Allen in the ultimate pit bull. Next to him, Garnett looks like a poodle. Did either man personally derail these lockout talks, which have seemed headed for disaster for months now? No. But if you were looking for an NBA villain, you got one on Thursday.

Since: Sep 30, 2011
Posted on: October 21, 2011 12:58 pm

Paul Allen emerges as latest lockout villain

Paul Allen may be an ass, and he may have more money than any other owner or player in the NBA.  All that aside, the labor negotiations are not about what Paul Allen's net worth is.  From what I can tell, none of his money has been derived from owning the Blazers, quite the opposite, it taking money away.  The context of what is going on is about the health of NBA franchises, and if Allen's numbers are true, he is losing his shirt on this business.  Most people in business, if they were losing what he says he is and did not have buckets of money due to success outside of the NBA, would file bankruptcy or sell as fast as possible.

There are no villains and hero's in this have two groups with such a different point of view, that the whole system will have to be broken and re-built from scratch.  No NBA season this year.........maybe Garnett should learn how to say "would you like fries with that".......all he is qualified to do other than dunk a ball.

Since: Oct 21, 2011
Posted on: October 21, 2011 11:07 am

Paul Allen emerges as latest lockout villain

Wow! The article talks about Paul Allen and Garnett coming into negotiations without all of the necessary information and making asses of themselves. I think Ben has done much the same here. 

With all of the quotes that I have read it sounded like Allen was no more than a delivery boy chosen to deliver the message. This opened the door for Ben to grind his axe with his growing displeasure with Allen. 

Clearly an agenda in place here.

Since: Oct 21, 2011
Posted on: October 21, 2011 1:32 am

Paul Allen emerges as latest lockout villain

I might be crazy, but Allen is one of the few people in the lockout that has a clear and justifiable bargaining agenda: he spends money to craft a winning team, said team is incredibly popular in its home market (both in terms of TV revenue and home attendance) and yet he still loses money owning that team.

If the NBA can't make money in Portland then there is something fundamentally wrong with the way the NBA is structured.  Which is why I think he is justified in taking a hard line in CBA negotiations.   

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