SBD/Issue 55/Franchises

Blazers Are Cleaning Up The Trail Of Players' Legal Woes

The Trail Blazers' "litany of legal problems has sent the team's marketing department scrambling for new ideas — one concept at a time," according to Andy Giegerich of the PORTLAND TRIBUNE. While Ruben Patterson and Rasheed Wallace — both recently arrested — were featured in the teams's "one fan at a time" TV ads, Trail Blazers Exec VP Erin Hubert said that the team "has suspended the television ads until the players' problems are sorted out." Giegerich: "The move is part of the team's strategy that seems to center on contrition. It's a different tune for a team whose top-level officials are often criticized for seeming indifferent to the city." Thus far, the team's sponsors "are offering continued, if qualified, support." Bank of America spokesperson Rich Brown said, "We're very disappointed in the recent events involving the individual players. But we've had a long-term relationship with the Blazer organization, and we remain committed to that relationship." Tony Roma's restaurant Exec VP Ray Newberry said that he "also is disappointed but empathizes with the team's beleaguered public relations staff." Newberry: "This is no different than what we've seen for the last five or six years, and the PR people are doing everything they can to mitigate the damage. So at this point, I can't really say I feel there's any long-term damage." Meanwhile, Univ. of OR Warsaw Sports Marketing Center Exec Dir Rick Burton said of the team's role in the community, "They need a couple of guys to go out and say that they love living in Portland. They need to put something together that gives the media a different story to tell" (PORTLAND TRIBUNE, 11/29 issue). In WA, Greg Jayne wrote that with the recent arrests of Patterson, Wallace and G Damon Stoudamire, Trail Blazers President Bob Whitsitt "must resign. ... It's clear that Whitsitt's time in Portland has turned into an irreparable disaster" (Clark County (WA) COLUMBIAN, 11/27). A COLUMBIAN editorial stated, "Teams have trouble winning without character. Fans have trouble staying loyal without it, too. So do corporate sponsors and political supporters." Trail Blazers Owner Paul Allen and head coach Maurice Cheeks "should take note, as they spend more time cleaning up after ... the Jail Blazers" (COLUMBIAN, 11/27). In Chicago, Lacy Banks wrote, "It's a shame to see Whitsitt and Allen having to apologize for a bunch of overpaid, irresponsible, immature, arrogant ingrates" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 12/1).

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