RIP John Nash

Well, apparently John Nash has finally been given a reprieve from dealing with the ever-underachieving Portland Trailblazers. After three years working to restore some sort of quality to the tarnished franchise that is Portland’s only professional sports outfit, Nash has been poo-canned as the team’s official scape-goat.

Remember what Nash inherited? Raweed Wallace, Bonzi Wells, the felonious Mr. Stoudamire (not the kinder, gentler Mr. Damon of today), and a team in a bad need of a make-over after spending too much money for too motley a crew.

At about the same time, Steve Patterson was brought in as team president. Nash came with a basketball background. Patterson came out of the ranks of baseball management to help run the front office. It seemed like, after the horror that was the Bob Whitsitt show, Portland would finally have some welcome separation of powers in an organization that actually ran like one should.

It wasn’t until Whitsitt was gone and the new gang was assembled in the front office, though, that we really developed an understanding of just what a meddler Paul Allen, the team’s owner, is in affairs of the staff. As time has gone on, the team has made some commendable moves: ejecting Sheed and Bonzi and Qyntel; developing the 25-point pledge to Portland fans; putting a new emphasis (selective as it may be) on character. But not even a first-rate front office team could hide Allen’s irksome issues. Soon after Nash and Patterson came in, the team laid off a bunch of employees, defaulted itself out of Rose Garden ownership, brought in Darius Miles, spent a high draft pick on Sebastian Telfair in some sort of (alleged) under-handed deal with Adidas, signed Zach, Darius and Theo to huuuuge contracts that may or may not have been deserved (I’ll give you that Zach probably deserved to get paid), and so on.

Nash has been the one guy in the mix who you always sensed was giving you a kernel of truth in the sound bite. He was, in my mind, the conscience of the franchise, as far as the front office was concerned. If the talking heads were talking, I tuned out Patterson, Allen, Pritchard, and listened carefully to Nash.

As John Canzano has mentioned ad nauseum in his articles, his blog, and his appearances on local talk radio, one of the reasons the Nash era is so hard to judge is because Nash had so little control over it. It is clear, from what I’ve heard others say, that Nash’s only real call on an NBA draft day was Telfair, who’s an adequate player but who we’ll have to wait for history to judge. When you look at the rest of what the team has been able to do, you see alot of non-movement when movement was necessary (not trading Sabonis’ contract for a quality player, not moving on the reported Vince Carter and Jason Kidd trades, not finding someone to take Miles’ contract, and attitude, off of our hands) that points to control not being vested in one decisive person, but instead being shared by a committee that isn’t on the same page.

I feel that Nash is leaving the Blazers better than he found them. He will be missed, if only because it was nice to have a representative of the team that you could actually listen to without feeling like you were being lied to. Will the team be able to do better? Certainly not while Steve Patterson is acting GM and team president; probably not under the young, inexperienced Pritchard (the GM of the future, if you hadn’t already figured it out last year), and probably never under the current ownership, unless Paul and his Vulcan handlers commit to spending the necessary money on the team and to butting out of the decisions made by team management.

I bid you farewell, John Nash. We hardly knew ye.

(And I can almost hear Patterson saying “Don’t let the door hit ya where the good Lord split ya…”)

1 Comment so far

  1. Chris (unregistered) on June 1st, 2006 @ 7:46 am

    I have it on good authority that Steve Patterson enjoys slithering through the grass on his free time.

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