Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft and the owner of the Portland Trail Blazers, passed away on Monday at the age of 65.
Allen led the Trail Blazers for decades, purchasing the team in 1988 and owning it through his death. His long tenure as owner featured some highlights for the franchise, including 23 postseason berths and two NBA Finals appearances (1990 and 1992).
The Trail Blazers were not the only sports business venture that Allen made, as he would later purchase the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks–ultimately helping to keep them in Seattle–and a share in the Seattle Sounders. For many, however, Allen will be remembered as a passionate NBA owner who shaped the Trail Blazers for decades. More from The Oregonian:
But for the majority of Oregonians, Allen will be most remembered for his long tenure as owner of the Blazers, Oregon’s most beloved sports franchise and one of his greatest passions. Allen purchased the Blazers in 1988 and was intimately involved in the team’s operations until his death.
A self-confessed basketball fanatic, Allen regularly evaluated college prospects in the walk up to the yearly NBA draft and relished being in the Blazers’ war room on draft day. If Allen developed a love for a certain player, odds are that player would be retained regardless of what the Blazers’ basketball talent evaluators thought.
Allen so loved the team, he once paid for a private television production crew to travel to Redmond to film and broadcast live a preseason game against the Denver Nuggets to his yacht outside Africa.
Allen’s tenure as Blazers owner was rife with controversy but mostly successful. Under his ownership, the Blazers qualified for the playoffs 23 times and made five trips to the Western Conference Finals. Twice the Blazers played in the NBA Finals — in Allen’s second season as owner in 1990 and in his fourth season in 1992.
At this point, it is uncertain what the long-term plans are regarding the ownership of the Trail Blazers and the Seahawks. Allen originally underwent treatment for non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 2009, and had recently announced that the cancer had returned. Complications from non-Hodgkin lymphoma has been cited as his cause of death.
Image courtesy Portland Trail Blazers.