Bob Whitsitt Rumors
The Trail Blazers hired Chris McGowan as president on Monday. He replaces Larry Miller, who replaced Steve Patterson, who replaced Bob Whitsitt. Also, McGowan will work alongside general manager Neil Olshey, who replaced Rich Cho, who replaced Kevin Pritchard, who replaced Patterson, who replaced John Nash, who replaced Whitsitt. Point is, it hasn’t felt easy to explain around here since Whitsitt left, has it? The hope here isn’t that McGowan will walk on water, or help a basketball team that feels headed to another NBA Draft Lottery find a miracle way out of this mess. Rather, the hope is that McGowan can work closely enough with Olshey to end the convoluted decade of madness and again make the basketball, not the business (or some gobbled combination) feel like it’s driving the bus again.
A Comcast Corp. unit was sued by former Portland Trailblazers President Bob Whitsitt over a finder’s fee related to the sale of the Philadelphia 76ers basketball team. Comcast-Spectacor LP refused to pay a $2 million fee to Whitsitt and Thomas Shine, a senior vice president for Reebok International Ltd., after they introduced the company to potential buyers, according to a complaint filed yesterday in federal court in Philadelphia. “The reasons articulated by defendants for their failure to pay are patently frivolous and irrelevant as they impose conditions for payment that do not exist in the agreement between the parties,” Shine and Whitsitt said in the complaint.
In the complaint, Shine claims he introduced Levien and other potential buyers to Comcast-Spectacor Chairman Ed Snider in November and December 2010. Levien was identified as a potential buyer in a written agreement between the company, Shine and Whitsitt in January, according to the complaint. Ike Richman, a spokesman for Philadelphia-based Comcast- Spectacor, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment on the lawsuit.
Whitsitt was unwilling to share any advice he might offer to potential GM suitors and he was reluctant to speak about his relationship with Allen, except to say “I thought it was great.” But he was effusive in praise for his controversial former boss. “It’s a great job for a couple main reasons,” Whitsitt said. “And it starts with an owner that wants to win and is committed to winning. That doesn’t just mean that he won’t hesitate to spend money on players and buy all kinds of extra draft picks. He’s also always been positive, committed to winning and he’s engaged. It’s important for an owner to be engaged.”
Few can speak to both the rigors and rewards of being a Blazers GM better than Whitsitt, who oversaw one of the most successful but controversial tenures in franchise history. His name will always be associated with “Jail Blazers” and his famously humorous quote that he “never studied chemistry in college” summarized his aversion to factoring in team camaraderie when building a roster. But he also steered the franchise to three 50-win seasons, nine playoff appearances and two conference finals in his nine years as Blazers GM. “I can’t speak for what’s happened since I left,” Whitsitt said. “But I loved my time there. I enjoyed it. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”