|For current information on this topic, see 2009–10 Portland Trail Blazers season.|
|Portland Trail Blazers|
|History||Portland Trail Blazers
|Team colors||Black, Red, Silver, White
|General manager||Kevin Pritchard|
|Head coach||Nate McMillan|
|D-League affiliate||Idaho Stampede|
|Conference titles||3 (1977, 1990, 1992)|
|Division titles||4 (1978, 1991, 1992, 1999)|
The Portland Trail Blazers, commonly known as the Blazers, are an American professional basketball team based in Portland, Oregon. They play in the Northwest Division of the Western Conference of the National Basketball Association (NBA). The Trail Blazers originally played their home games in the Memorial Coliseum, before moving to the Rose Garden Arena in 1995. Based in Portland throughout its existence, the franchise entered the league in 1970, and is the only major league franchise in Oregon until 2011 when the Portland Timbers will join the MLS. The franchise has also enjoyed a strong following; from 1977 through 1995, the team sold out 814 consecutive home games, the longest such streak in American professional sports.
The team has advanced to the NBA Finals three times, winning the NBA Championship once, in 1977. The other NBA Finals appearances were in 1990 and 1992. The team has qualified for the playoffs in 26 seasons of their 39-season existence, including a streak of 21 straight appearances from 1983 through 2003. Four Hall of Fame players have played for the Trail Blazers (Lenny Wilkens, Bill Walton, Clyde Drexler, and Dražen Petrović), as well as one player (Scottie Pippen) who was recognized as one of the league's 50 greatest but who is not yet eligible for the Hall. Bill Walton is the franchise's most decorated player; he was the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player in 1977, and the regular season MVP the following year. Three Blazer rookies (Geoff Petrie, Sidney Wicks, and Brandon Roy) have won the NBA Rookie of the Year award. Two Hall of Fame coaches, Lenny Wilkens and Jack Ramsay, have patrolled the sidelines for the Blazers, and two others, Mike Schuler and Mike Dunleavy, have won the NBA Coach of the Year award with the team.
The team has been known as the "Trail Blazers" throughout its history. Two weeks after being awarded an expansion franchise in 1970, team management held a contest to select the team's name. More than 10,000 entries were submitted. The most popular choice was "Pioneers", but that name was excluded from consideration as it was already used by sports teams at Portland's Lewis and Clark College. The name "Trail Blazers" received 172 entries, and was selected as the name.
The team's colors are red, white, black, and silver, which was added in 2002. The team's "pinwheel" logo, originally designed by the cousin of former Blazer executive Harry Glickman, is a graphic interpretation of two five-on-five basketball teams lined up against each other. One side of the pinwheel is rendered in red; the other side is rendered in a monochrome color (black, silver, or white). The logo has gone from a vertical alignment to a slanted one over time.
Portland's home uniforms are white in color, with red, black, and silver accents; the primary road uniform is black, with red, white, and sliver accents. The alternate road uniform is red with white, silver, and black accents. From 1970 to the 1977–78 season, the team wore red road uniforms, switching to black in that year. The team again wore red during the 1984–85 season, switching back to black road jerseys after that. In 2002, the team reintroduced red jerseys.
The team's mascot is Blaze the Trail Cat, a two-tone silver-colored mountain lion, which has been the team's official mascot since 2002. Prior to Blaze's debut, the Trail Blazers never had any official mascot. A popular unofficial mascot was the late Bill "The Beerman" Scott, a Seattle beer vendor/cheerleader who worked for numerous pro teams, including the Trail Blazers, the Seattle Seahawks, and the Seattle Mariners. Scott worked for the Trail Blazers from 1981 through 1985.
The Trail Blazers entered the NBA in 1970 as an expansion team, playing in the Memorial Coliseum. The team was led in its early years by Geoff Petrie and Sidney Wicks, and failed to qualify for the NBA postseason in their first six years of existence. During that span, the team had three head coaches (including future hall-of-famer Lenny Wilkens); team executive Stu Inman also served as coach. The team won the first pick in the NBA Draft twice during that span. In 1972 the team drafted LaRue Martin with the number one pick, and in 1974 the team selected Bill Walton from UCLA.
In 1976, the ABA-NBA merger saw those two rival leagues join forces. Four ABA teams joined the NBA; the remaining teams were dissolved and their players distributed among the remaining NBA squads in a dispersal draft. The Trail Blazers selected Maurice Lucas in the dispersal draft. That summer they also hired Jack Ramsay as head coach. The two moves, coupled with the emergence of Walton as a premier NBA big man, led the team to its first winning record (49–33), its first playoff appearance, and its only NBA Championship in 1977. Starting on April 5 of that year, the team began a sellout streak of 814 straight games—the longest in sports history—which did not end until 1995, after the team moved into a larger facility.
The team started the next season with a 50–10 record, and many predicted a dynasty in Portland, but it was not to be. Walton suffered a foot injury that ended his season and would plague his entire career, and the team struggled to a 58–24 record, losing to the Seattle SuperSonics in the 1978 conference semifinals. That summer, Bill Walton demanded to be traded to a team of his choice (Clippers, Knicks, Warriors, or 76ers) because he was unhappy with his medical treatment in Portland. Walton was never traded, and he held out the entire 1978–79 season and left the team as a free agent thereafter. Maurice Lucas left the team in 1980, and the Blazers "dynasty" was finished.
During the 1980s, the team was a consistent presence in the NBA post-season, failing to qualify for the playoffs only in 1982. However, they never advanced past the conference semifinals during the decade. The Pacific Division of the NBA was dominated by the Los Angeles Lakers throughout the decade, and only the Lakers and the Houston Rockets represented the Western Conference in the NBA Finals. Key players for the Blazers during the early 1980s included Mychal Thompson, Fat Lever, Darnell Valentine, Wayne Cooper, T. R. Dunn, Jim Paxson, and Calvin Natt.
In 1983, the team selected University of Houston guard–forward Clyde Drexler with the 13th pick in the draft; "Clyde the Glide" would become the face of the franchise for over a decade, and the team's second-most decorated player (after Walton). The following year, the Trail Blazers landed the #2 pick in the NBA Draft. After the Houston Rockets selected Drexler's college teammate Hakeem Olajuwon, known at that time as Akeem Olajuwon, at #1, the Trail Blazers selected Kentucky center Sam Bowie. Drafting third, the Chicago Bulls selected Michael Jordan. Many sportswriters and analysts have criticized the selection of the injury-plagued Bowie over Jordan as the worst draft pick in the history of American professional sports. That summer, the Blazers also made a controversial trade, sending Lever, Cooper, and Natt to the Denver Nuggets for high-scoring forward Kiki Vandeweghe.. In the 1985 Draft, the Blazers selected point guard Terry Porter with the last pick of the first round. Porter would go on to become one of the top point guards in the league, and the Blazers' all-time leader in assists.
However, the Blazers continued to struggle in the post-season, and in 1986, Ramsay was fired and replaced with Mike Schuler. That off-season, the team drafted two players from behind the Iron Curtain, Arvydas Sabonis and Dražen Petrović, and sent Thompson to the San Antonio Spurs for former Oregon State University star Steve Johnson. Johnson was a high-scoring forward-center who the team intended to pair with Bowie on the frontline. It was not to be, as Bowie broke his leg five games into the 1986–87 season, missing the next two and a half seasons. During Schuler's brief tenure, the Blazers failed to advance out of the first round of the NBA playoffs.
In 1988, billionaire Paul Allen purchased the Blazers. His first season as owner was one marked by turmoil, as conflicts erupted over who should start at several positions. Both Vandeweghe and Johnson suffered injuries; they were replaced in the starting lineup by Jerome Kersey and Kevin Duckworth. Several players, most notably Drexler, were accused of undermining Schuler. The team struggled to a losing record and appeared in danger of missing the playoffs. Schuler was fired and replaced on an interim basis with assistant coach Rick Adelman, and Vandeweghe was traded to the New York Knicks. Under Adelman, the team achieved a 39–43 record, and barely qualified for the playoffs. That offseason, the team traded Sam Bowie (who had returned to the team to end the season) to the New Jersey Nets for forward Buck Williams, and Adelman was given the coaching job on a non-interim basis.
The addition of Williams, and the replacement of the defensively-challenged Vandeweghe with the defensive-minded Kersey, turned the team from a poor defensive squad into a good one. Led by the charismatic Drexler, the team reached the NBA Finals in 1990 and 1992, losing to the Detroit Pistons and Chicago Bulls, respectively. Possibly inspired by the 1985 Chicago Bears's Super Bowl Shuffle, during the runnup to their 1990 Finals appearance, the Blazers recorded two songs: "Bust a Bucket" and "Rip City Rhapsody" (in reference to the city's nickname). The year in between their two finals appearances, the team posted a league-best 63–19 record before losing to the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference finals. However, the team failed to win an NBA title, and failed to advance past the first round in 1993 and 1994. Adelman was fired after the 1994 season, and replaced with P. J. Carlesimo, which led to the resignation of executive vice-president Geoff Petrie, a close friend of Adelman's.
In July 1994, the Trail Blazers announced the hire of a new team president, former Seattle SuperSonics general manager Bob Whitsitt. Whitsitt immediately set about revamping the Blazers roster; this included dismantling the aging Drexler-led team that had twice been to the finals,. In 1993, Kevin Duckworth was traded to the Washington Bullets for forward Harvey Grant. Several key players were permitted to walk away in free agency, including Buck Williams (1996), Terry Porter (1996), and Cliff Robinson (1997), which left Jerome Kersey unprotected in the 1996 expansion draft. Drexler requested to be traded to a contender, and the Trail Blazers traded him to the Houston Rockets. In the fall of 1995, the team left the Memorial Coliseum for a new home, the 20,000-seat Rose Garden. The sellout streak ended in the new building.
In an effort to rebuild, the team acquired several players who were highly talented, but had reputations for off-court troubles. Isaiah Rider, who was traded by the Minnesota Timberwolves for just a draft pick and career backups due to his frequent arrests and lack of punctuality, was arrested for marijuana possession two days before his debut with the Blazers. Rasheed Wallace, who was acknowledged as a hot-tempered player since college, was also acquired in a trade with the Washington Bullets. Point guard Kenny Anderson was signed as a free agent, and subsequently traded for Damon Stoudamire. Initially, this approach worked, as the team returned to the Western Conference finals in 1999 under head coach Mike Dunleavy. After being swept by the eventual champion San Antonio Spurs, Whitsitt sent Rider and guard Jim Jackson to the Atlanta Hawks for guard Steve Smith and acquired former All-Star forward Scottie Pippen from the Houston Rockets. This team again advanced to the Western Conference Finals, where they faced a Los Angeles Lakers team led by Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant. In that series, the Trail Blazers dropped three out of the first four games before winning the next two, forcing a pivotal Game 7. The Blazers had a 15-point lead in the fourth quarter, but lost the game and the series to the Lakers, who went on to win the first of three consecutive titles.
The Portland Trail Blazers made a series of personnel moves in the 2000 and 2001 off-seasons that failed to produce the desired results, and continued to alienate the community. Up-and-coming forward Jermaine O'Neal was traded to the Indiana Pacers for Dale Davis. Brian Grant signed with the Miami Heat, and he was replaced with troubled ex-Seattle forward Shawn Kemp. The team started off well, posting the Western Conference's best record through March 2001, but then signed guard Rod Strickland to augment their point guard corps. The move backfired, and the team lost 17 of its remaining 25 games, and was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs (swept by the Los Angeles Lakers). Many in the media began to criticize the team, and Whitsitt, previously proclaimed a genius for his work in both Seattle and Portland, started coming under criticism. A particular criticism was that Whitsitt was attempting to win a title by assembling a roster of superstars, without paying attention to team chemistry. Longtime NBA coach and analyst Doug Collins referred to Whitsitt as a "rotisserie-league manager." A fan was ejected from the Rose Garden for holding up a banner that said "Trade Whitsitt", and many in the national media started referring to the team as the "Jail Blazers".
That offseason, the churning continued. Dunleavy was fired, and replaced with Maurice Cheeks, a "players coach" who some thought would relate better to the players than Dunleavy did. More transactions followed as the Blazers traded Steve Smith to the Spurs for Derek Anderson. In one of his most controversial moves to that time, Whitsitt signed free agent Ruben Patterson, who had previously pled no contest to a felony sexual assault charge, and was required to register as a sex offender. Popular center Arvydas Sabonis, who during the playoffs had a towel flung in his face by Wallace, decided to leave the team.
The next two seasons were just as disastrous for the team's reputation. Numerous players, including Wallace, Stoudamire, and Qyntel Woods, were arrested for marijuana possession. Woods pled guilty to first-degree animal abuse for staging dog fights in his house, some involving his pit bull named Hollywood. Both Hollywood and Woods' other pit bull, Sugar, were confiscated, and Woods was given eighty hours of community service. He also agreed to donate $10,000 to the Oregon Humane Society. Wallace was suspended for seven games for threatening a referee. Zach Randolph and Patterson got in a fight during practice, with Randolph sucker punching his teammate in the jaw. Police answering a burglar alarm at Stoudamire's house noticed a marijuana smell, searched the premises, and found a pound of cannabis located in a crawlspace; the search was later declared illegal and charges in the matter were dropped. Guard Bonzi Wells famously told Sports Illustrated in a 2002 interview:
"they [fans] really don't matter to us. They can boo us every day, but they're still going to ask for our autographs if they see us on the street."
Fan discontent soared; despite the team continuing to post a winning record, attendance at the Rose Garden started to decline. In the summer of 2003, with attendance declining, the team going nowhere on the court, and an exorbitant payroll, Whitsitt announced that he would leave the team to focus on Paul Allen's other franchise, the Seattle Seahawks.
To replace Whitsitt, the team hired two men at new positions. John Nash, a veteran NBA executive, was hired as general manager, and Steve Patterson as team president. The new management promised a focus on character while remaining playoff contenders; the team soon published a "Twenty-Five Point Pledge" to fans. Troublesome players including Wells, Wallace, and Jeff McInnis were traded away. However, the team failed to qualify for the 2004 NBA Playoffs, ending a streak of 21 straight appearances.
The following year was marked by more trouble as the team plummeted to a 27–55 record. The bankruptcy of the Oregon Arena corporation, which resulted in the Rose Garden being owned by a consortium of investment firms, further alienated the fanbase, as did an incident in which forward Darius Miles (himself African-American) called coach Maurice Cheeks a "nigger." The latter incident was compounded by what many viewed as inadequate discipline for Miles, followed by a secret agreement between the team and Miles to refund the amount of his fine. Cheeks was fired that season and replaced on an interim basis by director of player-personnel Kevin Pritchard. That summer the team hired Nate McMillan, who had coached the Sonics the prior season, and Pritchard returned to the front office.
The following 2005–06 season was not better, as the Blazers posted a league-worst 21–61 record. Attendance was low, and the year was not free of player incidents. Players such as Miles, Patterson, Randolph, and Sebastian Telfair were involved in either on-court bickering or off-court legal incidents. Nash was fired at the end of the season, with Steve Patterson assuming the general manager role in addition to his duties as president. In addition, the team had a poor relationship with the management of the Rose Garden, frequently complaining of a "broken economic model". It was widely speculated by the end of the year that Paul Allen would sell the team; and the team was offered for sale that summer, with several groups expressing interest. However, Allen was willing to spend money and urged Pritchard to make draft-day trades. He subsequently took the team off the market.
In the spring of 2007, Steve Patterson resigned as team president, and Paul Allen entered into an agreement to re-purchase the Rose Garden. On the court, the team finished with a 32–50 record, an 11-game improvement, and rookie shooting guard Brandon Roy was named the 2006–07 Rookie of the Year. That summer Pritchard was promoted to general manager, and former Nike Inc. executive Larry Miller was hired as team president. The Blazers won the 2007 NBA Draft Lottery and selected Ohio State center Greg Oden with the #1 pick in the draft. Some had speculated that they might choose Kevin Durant instead; Durant was picked at #2 by regional rivals the Seattle SuperSonics. Oden suffered a pre-season knee injury requiring microfracture surgery, and missed the entire 2007–08 season.
Despite this, the Trail Blazers had a 13-game winning streak that began in early December, resulting in a 13–2 record, an NBA best for the month of December. McMillan won NBA Coach of the Month honors, and Roy garnered NBA Western Conference Player of the Week honors in back-to-back weeks (the first Trail Blazer to accomplish the feat since Clyde Drexler in the 1990–91 season). Roy was also named as a reserve for the 2008 NBA All-Star Game, the first All-Star for the Blazers since Rasheed Wallace in 2001. The Blazers finished the season 41–41, their best record since the 2003–04 season.
The team continued to improve in the 2008–09 season. Greg Oden debuted with the Blazers, as did Spanish swingman Rudy Fernández. Roy appeared in his second straight All-Star Game, and had a career-high 52 points against the Phoenix Suns and game-winning shots against the Houston Rockets and New York Knicks. The Blazers clinched a playoff berth for the first time since 2003 and achieved a winning season for the first time since the 2002–03 season. As the fourth seed and holding home court advantage, the Portland Trail Blazers played the fifth-seeded Houston Rockets in the 2009 Playoffs, losing the playoff series 4 games to 2.
In the 2009 off-season, the Trail Blazers traded the #24 pick to Dallas for the #22 pick and selected Victor Claver. They also selected Villanova forward Dante Cunningham with the #33 pick, Jon Brockman and guard Patrick Mills. Brockman was traded to the Kings in exchange for #31 pick Jeff Pendergraph. Free agent Channing Frye signed with the Phoenix Suns and Sergio Rodriguez was traded to the Kings. The Blazers attempted to sign free agent small forward Hedo Turkoglu, who led the Orlando Magic to the 2009 NBA Finals, but after a verbal agreement he decided to sign with the Toronto Raptors. The Blazers then attempted to sign restricted free agent Paul Millsap; however, their offer was matched by the Utah Jazz. On July 24, 2009, the Trail Blazers signed point guard Andre Miller.
However, the 2009–10 season has been a painful one. Despite toting a winning record, injuries have hobbled the team. Reserves Nicolas Batum and Rudy Fernández started the season on the inactive list. Both centers Greg Oden and Joel Przybilla suffered season-ending knee injuries, while Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge played through shoulder and hamstring, and ankle injuries, respectively. Head Coach Nate McMillan was likewise not spared, suffering a ruptured Achilles tendon during practice and was in a walking boot. The Blazers managed to fill a void in the center position, acquiring Marcus Camby from the Los Angeles Clippers for Steve Blake and Travis Outlaw.
In the Blazers' 39 years of existence (through summer 2009), they have qualified for the NBA playoffs 27 times. This includes a streak of 21 straight playoff appearances from 1983 through 2003. The team has one NBA title, in 1977, and appeared in the NBA Finals two other times, in 1990 and 1992. The best record posted by the team was 63–19, in 1991; the worst record was 18–64, in the team's second season.
Portland Trail Blazers roster
The Trail Blazers have had the #1 pick in the NBA Draft four times in their history; each time selecting a center. In 1972 the choice was LaRue Martin, Bill Walton was picked in 1974, Mychal Thompson in 1978, and Greg Oden was taken in 2007. Several Blazer picks have been criticized by NBA commentators as particularly unwise:
Other notable draft picks include player-coach Geoff Petrie, Sidney Wicks, Larry Steele, Lionel Hollins and Jim Paxson in the 1970s and Clyde Drexler, Jerome Kersey, Terry Porter and Arvydas Sabonis in the 1980s. In the 1990s the Blazers selected Jermaine O'Neal and in the modern millennium drafted Zach Randolph and, in 2006, acquired Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge in a blockbuster draft day that included six trades involving the Trail Blazers.
The team is ultimately owned by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen; ownership of the Trail Blazers is via a series of holding companies which Allen owns. Vulcan Inc. is a private corporation which has Allen as chairman and sole shareholder. A subsidiary of Vulcan, Vulcan Sports and Entertainment (VSE), manages Allen's sports-related properties, including the Trail Blazers, the Seattle Seahawks NFL team, the Seattle Sounders MLS team, and the Rose Garden. The president of VSE is Tod Leiweke, who also briefly served as the president of the Trail Blazers.
The Trail Blazers as a corporate entity are owned by VSE. Allen serves as the team's chairman, and his longtime associate Bert Kolde is vice-chairman. The current president of the Trail Blazers is Larry Miller. The post of chief operating officer is currently vacant; the most recent COO of the team was Mike Golub, who resigned in July 2008 to take a more enhanced role with VSE.. The team's general manager is Kevin Pritchard. Before Allen purchased the team in 1988, the Trail Blazers were owned by a group of investors headed by Larry Weinberg.
The Trail Blazers play their home games in the Rose Garden, a multipurpose arena which is located in Portland's Rose Quarter, northeast of downtown. The Rose Garden, which opened in 1995, can seat a total of 19,980 spectators for basketball games; capacity increases to 20,580 with standing room. Like the Trail Blazers, the Rose Garden is owned by Paul Allen through subsidiary Vulcan Sports and Entertainment, and the arena is managed by Global Spectrum. During a two-year period between 2005 and 2007, the arena was owned by a consortium of creditors who financed its construction after the Oregon Arena Corporation, a now-defunct holding company owned by Allen, filed for bankruptcy in 2004.
The team has a cheerleading/dance squad known as the BlazerDancers. Consisting of 16 members, the all-female BlazerDancers perform dance routines at home games, charity events, and promotional events. The 2008–2009 team held auditions in late July 2008. Seven new dancers, as well as nine returning dancers make up the new team. A junior dance team composed of 8–11 year old girls also performs at selected home games, as does a hip-hop dance troupe. Other regular in-game entertainment acts include a co-educational acrobatic stunt team which performs technically-difficult cheers, a break dancing squad known as the Portland TrailBreakers, and a pair of percussion acts.
The relationship between the team and its fans, commonly known as "Blazermania", has been well-chronicled. The Trail Blazers have long been one of the NBA's top draws, with the exception of two periods in the team's history. The team drew poorly during its first four seasons of existence, failing to average more than 10,000 spectators per game. Attendance increased in 1974, when the team drafted Bill Walton.
The phenomenon known as Blazermania started during the 1976–77 season, when the team would post its first winning record, make its first playoff appearance—and capture its only NBA title, defeating the heavily-favored Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA Finals; the team has been wildly popular in Portland since that time. That season, the team started their famous sellout streak which would continue until the team moved into the Rose Garden in 1995. The team continued to average over 19,000 spectators per game until the 2003–04 season, when attendance declined after the team continued to suffer image problems due to the "Jail Blazer" reputation it had gained, and was no longer competitive on the court. After drafting eventual Rookie of the Year and two-time All Star Brandon Roy in 2006, attendance climbed in the 2006–07 season and continued to rebound in the 2007–08 season. The final 27 home games of the 2007–2008 season were consecutive sell-outs, a streak which continued through the entire 2008–2009 season and remains unbroken thus far in the 2009–2010 season.
Like all NBA franchises, games of the Trail Blazers are routinely broadcast via television and radio. The team was one of the first in the NBA to produce its own television broadcasts. The team's television production facility is known as Post-Up Productions. Television broadcasts of Blazer games, when not carried on a national network, are broadcast either on Comcast SportsNet Northwest or the Blazers Television Network, a network of four over-the-air television stations located in Oregon. The flagship station of the Blazers Television Network is KGW-TV in Portland.
For the 2007–08 season, all but six regular-season games were carried on one these networks; the other six were broadcast nationally on TNT or ESPN. Thirty-four games were produced and broadcast in high-definition television. The Trail Blazers television play-by-play announcer and analyst are Mike Barrett and Mike Rice, respectively. The sideline reporter during the broadcasts is Rebecca Haarlow. The team was also known for its long association with Steve "Snapper" Jones, who played for the team prior to his career as a television analyst; Jones departed the franchise in 2005.
All Trail Blazer games are broadcast over the radio, with broadcasting carried on the Trail Blazers radio network, which consists of 25 stations located in the Pacific Northwest. The flagship station of the Blazers' radio network is KXTG (95.5 The Game), the FM sports radio station in Portland. The radio broadcasting team consists of play-by-play announcer Brian Wheeler, analyst Antonio Harvey, and studio host Jay Allen. All games are preceded by a pre-game analysis show, Blazers Courtside, and followed by a post-game show known as The 5th Quarter. Bob Akamian serves as studio host and former Trail Blazers' player Michael Holton as studio analyst. The original radio announcer for the team was Bill Schonely, who served as the team's radio play-by-play announcer from 1970 until his retirement in 1998—calling 2,522 Blazers games—and remains with the team as a community ambassador.
Trail Blazers broadcasts have been criticized on several fronts. The broadcast personalities, all of whom are Trail Blazers employees, have been criticized in the media for being "homers"; further it has been alleged that the 2005 departure of Steve Jones was due in part to team displeasure with Jones' sometimes frank analysis of the team's on-court performance and off-court decisions. A television deal signed with Comcast SportsNet in 2007 has also been criticized for not ensuring access to Blazer games via cable company Charter, as well as satellite television providers such as DirecTV and Dish Network, both of which compete with Comcast's cable television operations.
Several local news outlets provide in-depth coverage of the Trail Blazers. Chief among them is The Oregonian, the largest paper in the state of Oregon. Other newspapers providing detailed coverage of the team (including the assignment of beat writers to cover the team) include the Portland Tribune, a weekly Portland paper, and the Vancouver, Washington Columbian. Notable local journalists to cover the team include John Canzano and Jason Quick of the Oregonian and Dwight Jaynes of the Portland Tribune. Online coverage of the Oregonian is provided through oregonlive.com, a website collaboration between the paper and Advance Internet. In addition to making Oregonian content available, oregonlive.com hosts several blogs covering the team written by Oregonian journalists, as well as an additional blog, "Blazers Blog", written by Sean Meagher.
Relations between the team and The Oregonian have often been tense; the paper is editorially independent of the team and is often critical. During the Steve Patterson era, relations between the two institutions became increasingly hostile; several NBA executives told ESPN's Chris Sheridan that the situation was the "most dysfunctional media-team relationship" that they could recall. For instance during a portion of a pre-2006 NBA Draft workout, which was closed to the media, an Oregonian reporter looked through a curtain separating the press from the workout and wrote about this on his blog. Outraged, the team closed subsequent practices to the press altogether, leading John Canzano of the paper to respond with outrage on his blog. In November 2006, the Oregonian commissioned an outside editor to investigate the deteriorating relationship, a move the rival Willamette Week called "unusual". In the report, both sides were criticized somewhat, but did not make any revelations which were unexpected.