NBA Rumor: Neil Olshey Investigation

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The Trail Blazers opened an investigation into Olshey in early November with employees alleging a toxic, hostile work environment in which staff members were allegedly subjected to intimidation and profanity-laced tirades, among other bullying tactics, league sources told Yahoo Sports. The organization enlisted the services of O’Melveny & Myers to run the independent investigation, and the firm interviewed employees, including current and former players and employees outside of personnel, at the practice facility. The investigation was originally expected to last only a few days, but was extended and lasted nearly a month.

Over Olshey’s decade as the top basketball decision-maker, multiple employees asserted they had grievances with his treatment of staff in the workplace, sources said. Olshey allegedly subjected staffers to profanity-laced tirades, including former head coach Terry Stotts while Olshey sat courtside during home games, which routinely caught the attention of Blazers players. In October 2017, late team owner Paul Allen banned Olshey from watching the game inside the arena bowl after Olshey flipped off an individual from the Los Angeles Clippers after Blake Griffin nailed a game-winning 3-pointer, sources said. The incident was caught on television.

Blazers players contacted during Neil Olshey investigation

A few current Portland Trail Blazers players were contacted for interviews during the investigation into the toxic and hostile work environment claims against team president of basketball operations and general manager Neil Olshey, league sources told Yahoo Sports. Up to this point, the investigation centered on former and current staffers. O’Melveny & Myers, the firm enlisted by the Trail Blazers to investigate, will ask the players about their experiences working with Olshey, sources said.

Blazers investigation into Neil Olshey extended

The investigation into Portland Trail Blazers president of basketball operations and general manager Neil Olshey allegedly creating a hostile work environment has been extended, league sources told Yahoo Sports. Previously expected to wrap up shortly, the investigation could last a few weeks before a ruling on Olshey’s future is determined, sources said. Employees of the practice facility were interviewed on Thursday and Friday.

Olshey, 56, has been on the job in Portland for a decade. We’ve all seen the bully act up close at news conferences. I’ve been subject to a couple of his profane tirades. Once Olshey pulled me aside and blistered me on an opening night. He threatened to revoke my media credential and never speak to me again. Why? Because a few months earlier I wrote in a column that he’d played a round of golf at the Oswego Lake Country Club. Olshey was furious and said it made him appear lazy. “Was the column wrong?” I asked. “(Expletive) you,” Olshey shot back.

Olshey has regularly bullied media members. He threw ex-coach Terry Stotts under the bus at the end of last season. One former basketball operations staff member told me he was berated and threatened by Olshey for circumventing the GM one summer. The staffer sent a note to McGowan inquiring about a job opening on the business operations side. “Neil called and just lit me up,” the former employee said. “It was just F-bombs and Neil said if I ever did it again I’d never work in the league again.”

Olshey swears a lot. He rants often. And he has little patience for incompetence. Catch him at the wrong time and all three of these traits can manifest into a red-faced, vein-popping tornado of anger. For the past 10 years, the norm around the Trail Blazers has been to check the Olshey weather forecast: Bad mood? Best to steer clear of the storm. “He will talk to you however he wants and treat you however he wants. People literally avoid walking his way in the office,” a former employee said.

Keep in mind that there are a legion of Blazers employees who swear by him. One longtime employee who has connections to the Blazers’ 1977 championship season reveres Olshey, comparing him to former NBA commissioner David Stern: firm, fair, demanding and exceedingly smart. Other longtime staffers who have been around before Olshey’s arrival say the culture and feeling of being part of a team have never been stronger. Coach Chauncey Billups, who has known Olshey for more than 10 years, said he has never experienced or heard of misconduct by Olshey.
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