Rich Cho is coming to the Portland Trail Blazers by way of Oklahoma City and Seattle, and I’m not sure the Blazers could have possibly done any better among the league’s available personnel. There could be some hidden mastermind out there that will someday put together another monster, but for the relatively known quantities in NBA front offices, Portland found as perfect a fit as possible.
And we do not throw out the word “perfect” all willy nilly.
First off, Cho is a Northwest guy. Public relations will spin that every which way to rebuild the community bridge that was nearly felled by the recent half year for the organizations, but that’s not why Cho’s roots are important. It’s important because, as long as Paul Allen is willing to spend the appropriate money, Cho is probably where he wants to be. If successful, he probably won’t be trying to parlay this job into one with another team. I use probably because there’s no way to predict personalities and emotions in the future, but if you’re playing the odds, they favor Cho’s long-term desire to stay in Portland should he find success.
Personality might be the key here, though. It’s not fair to Cho to personify him as a nerd, but by most accounts he’s a cerebral guy and, more importantly, isn’t an athlete. Allen, and those people around him, can connect with that much better than they likely could the more gregarious personality of Kevin Pritchard. Cho just had his first press conference for crying out loud. You think any media members are going to label him a braggart or surround him with a golden aura? Cho certainly knew where to place his thanks during his presser, and as we’ve learned, small things like that are important in the Rose Garden hallways.
But all that’s important to Cho’s ability to maintain his newfound position and survive. What’s immediately crucial is whether or not he will find success to make the long-term a factor.
I could not be more confident in that success.
You have to measure what that means to you, naturally. If success is Chris Paul and/or a title and Chris Paul and/or a title only, Cho has a steep hill to climb in your mind. But if success is finding the best solution to every problem, to see problems coming, to be as informed as possible and smart enough to digest that information to make a confident decision but to also make calculated risks, you’ve got your guy. And if you’re worried about Cho’s rolodex not being up to snuff for a big move in the near future, rest those concerns. Smart people respond to smart people. And bad executives get taken advantage of by smart people.
What the hiring signals, after a never ending stream of mishandled situations, there are still intelligent people are the head of this organization. They identified the right candidate and got him. That’s all you want from a Team President and Owner. Efficient and effective. Well done by Allen and Larry Miller, for not only finding Cho, but for keeping the Blazers at the front of the league in terms of foward-thinking front offices. The Blazers will still have a presence in analytical circles like SLOAN, they will still do their due diligence with thorough scouting around the world and they will listen to progressive voices. And it doesn’t have to be a lateral move. Cho could be better than what the Blazers had and have.
It’s a coup, really, not only for the team, but for fans of the game. You’re seeing non-athletes break into the upper echelon, people who have proven themselves in every way but name recognition and box score resumes. Proof that intelligence comes in many forms, and that you don’t need coaches to pound ideas into your head over your entire life to understand a game. It’s an example of the American dream, corny as that sounds. Working hard can make you as good or better than the privileged incumbents. Cho did that, and whether he’s a smash or a failure, it was the right move by Portland to bring a new name into the arena.