Larry Miller is leaving the Blazers to go back to the Jordan brand. Credit: Craig Mitchelldyer-US PRESSWIRE

The End Of Another Era In Portland

The Portland Trail Blazers have announced today that their President Larry Miller has stepped down, effective immediately.

Here’s the press release in its entirety:

PORTLAND, Ore. – Larry Miller has resigned as President of the Portland Trail Blazers to take a job with a Portland-area company, the team announced on Saturday.

“I greatly enjoyed my time with the Portland Trail Blazers,” said Larry Miller. “It was an incredible experience and I’ll be forever grateful to Paul Allen for giving me the opportunity and honor to lead what I believe to be one of the best teams in all of sports.”

Under Miller’s leadership, the Trail Blazers recorded three consecutive trips to the postseason from 2009-11 for the first time since 2001-03. The Trail Blazers won 54 games and shared the Northwest Division crown in 2008-09, the team’s first division title since 1998-99.

“The timing is right,” said Miller. “We have an excellent general manager in place in Neil Olshey, so I feel the team is on solid ground and headed in the right direction. Off the court, business is great. The Rose Garden is packed every night and the passion of Trail Blazers fans has never been better.”

Also since Miller’s arrival, the Trail Blazers are riding a streak of 192 consecutive sellouts, dating back to Dec. 21, 2007. Portland has led the Western Conference in average home attendance for each of the past four seasons.

“It is sad to see Larry leaving the Blazers and I want to thank him for his leadership and contributions to the franchise,” said Owner Paul Allen . “Larry helped manage a period of significant growth and I wish him all the best as he takes on this opportunity.”

Also during his tenure, the Trail Blazers made significant strides in becoming a leader in sustainability among professional sports franchises. The Rose Garden became the first existing arena in the world to attain LEED Gold Certification.

With Miller’s departure, basketball operations will report through General Manager Neil Olshey and business operations will report through Chief Operating Officer Sarah Mensah. A search for a replacement for Miller will begin immediately.

Prior to joining the Trail Blazers, Miller served as President of the Jordan Brand from 1999-2006. He’s also held executive management positions with Jantzen, Kraft, Philadelphia Newspapers, Campbell’s Soup, Converse and Nike.

 

Miller was hired in 2007 to replace out-going President and General Manager Steve Patterson, who was at the helm during one of the Blazers’ least successful runs as a franchise. Miller’s tenure will be most likely remembered for things like injuries to Greg Oden and Brandon Roy, the unexpected and earth-shattering firings of Tom Penn and Kevin Pritchard, and the short-lived Rich Cho era. Miller will also be remembered for not saying a whole lot in press conferences.

An incident such as this will serve to remind Blazer fans that everything is always a little in flux in the NBA in general and Portland’s front office specifically. It will give us a chance to grouse both about Larry Miller’s ineffectualness as the mouthpiece of the franchise, and the franchise’s inability to stay out of the “team that’s falling apart” section of the sports Twitter-sphere.

In this scenario it seems that we can have it both ways; it makes perfect sense that we can be justified in saying Portland did wrong in their choice for Team President and also made a poor showing in not providing a culture in which said loser President could effectively thrive.

A pretty good sense of what Twitter is saying about Larry Miller can be had by looking at Ben Golliver’s feed (side note, Ben hit Twitter pay-dirt down in Las Vegas the other day while watching and Tweeting about Team U.S.A.’s pre-Olympic training camp). Here, here, and here are good examples.

Personally, I was never really sure what Larry Miller did. That doesn’t mean I thought he didn’t do anything. I doubt that his absence will be jarring or even noticeable, but I do tend to agree that it doesn’t look too good on the whole that this franchise can’t seem to stay out of “ZOMG LOOK AT HOW THIS TEAM CONTINUES TO IMPLODE” territory.

Here’s my favorite Larry Miller video:


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Twitter: @mikeacker | @ripcityproject

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