Blood On The Walls: Choice Bits From Blazers Owner Paul Allen's New Book

Paul Allen of Microsoft fame and fortune just published a memoir called "Idea Man." Chapter 14 is about the Blazers and basketball. In it, Allen claims that he beat Clyde Drexler and Kiki Vandeweghe in a game of HORSE. He says his friendship with The Glide affected his judgment and caused him to forgo trading Drexler for Hakeem Olajuwon. For years, Allen also says, Drexler would call the owner in the middle of the night to discuss both basketball and contractual matters. Some other morsels we plucked off Google Books can be found below.

Allen on his athletic career:

I was a thin, gangly child with no conspicuous athletic talent. When my peewee church basketball team won the city title, I sat at the end of the bench and played the last few minutes of our blowouts. I have a vague memory of trying to dribble and shoot; the basket seemed way, way up there. I fared better on the playground at four square, where you hand-serve a large rubber ball into quadrants of a court.

Allen on Michael Jordan:

We returned to the Finals in 1992, the coming-out party for Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls. Heading into the showdown, a Sports Illustrated cover story featured the players who'd finish one-two in the balloting for Most Valuable Player that year: Jordan and Drexler, who was billed as Jordan's "No. 1 Rival." That only stoked Jordan's competitive fires, which never needed stoking in the first place. Worse yet, Clyde had to guard the league's top scorer without his normal lateral movement. After arthroscopic surgery the previous September, he'd had his right knee drained half a dozen times.

Jordan was a streaky jump shooter at that stage of his career, making only 27 percent of his three-point shots during the season. But in game one in Chicago, he hit six of them in the first half on his way to 39 points. (After the last deep shot, he turned toward the broadcast table and shrugged, as if he'd surprised even himself.) We tried Cliff [Robinson] and Jerome [Kersey] on him, along with Clyde — all solid defenders, but it made no difference. Jordan had his "turbo" on. I've seen just one other person up close who compared to him, who wanted not only to beat you but to crush you if he could. Those two stood apart for raw competitiveness: Michael Jordan and Bill Gates.

We had out moments against the Bulls. Midway through the fourth quarter of a tight game four in Portland, Clyde tapped the ball away from Jordan and converted it into a dunk, setting off a surge that evened the series at two games apiece. Nearly giddy, I went into the locker room afterward and found Clyde slumped in front of his locker, completely exhausted, an ice bag on every joint. And I said, "Clyde that was a brilliant steal. You read Jordan perfectly."

He looked up at me, shook his head, and said, "Stop, stop, you don't understand. Most guys have two or three go-to moves; Jordan has nine. I guessed right, that's all. I got lucky. Sometimes you get the bear, but usually the bear gets you." Clyde knew the score. The Bulls, on the cusp of a dynasty, beat us in six games.

Allen on dogfighting:

An internal investigator came to me with a report on Qyntel Woods: "We think there may be dogfighting at Qyntel's house."

Dogfighting? I couldn't believe what I was hearing.

A few days later: "We think there may be some dogs buried in his yard."

Buried in his yard?

And a day or two after that: "There's a room in his house where we hear the walls are covered with blood."

Blood on the walls?

Allen on the magnanimity of David Stern:

"[W]e're doing just about everything right, but we're still losing money. With Brandon [Roy] and LaMarcus [Aldridge] now signed to contract extensions, we won't be turning a profit anytime soon, a fact that speaks volumes about the plight of smaller-market franchises in the NBA. …

Whateve the outcome of our ongoing collective bargaining agreement negotiations with the players' union (the current deal expires on June 30, 2011), the NBA has yet to address the big market/small market discrepancy. …

[B]efore long, the league may become stratified into haves and havenots, with small-market teams shaving player payrolls just to stay afloat and large-grossing teams having "huge economic disparities to utilize to make them better," as NBA Commissioner David Stern said recently. At that point, only four or five franchises will have a legitimate shot at a championship. You'll see more half-empty arenas as people weary of watching their lovable losers get hammered. Top free agents will focus on fewer cities, typically those with the best media and promotional opportunities. National interest and TV ratings can't help but suffer.

Or as Stern put it, the NBA "is viable as long as you have owners who want to continue funding losses. But it's not on the long term a sustainable business model…."

During the throes of the Rose Garden's bankruptcy, I met with Stern in New York. When I asked him what alternatives he saw for me, the commissioner told me, "Well, you can always sell your team."