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Pritchard talks Paul Allen, choosing Oden over Durant

Jul 6, 2011, 3:09 PM EDT

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Kevin Pritchard was the hottest general manager in the league, the guy who changed the culture in Portland from the “Jail Blazers” to a young team on the rise.

Then he got fired. Abruptly. Reportedly because owner Paul Allen and his tight circle didn’t like Prichard and the credit he was getting for turning around the team. (So, Portland hired Rich Cho, who made some smart moves but lasted one year and got fired again by Allen, leaving a lot of people around the league wondering what is going on up in the Northwest.)

Prichard went on The Game sports talk radio in Portland recently and talked about a lot of things (via Sports Radio Interviews). Including what it was like to work with Paul Allen (one of the co-founders of Microsoft).

“He’s very complete in that he wants you to do the work and get to a certain place and then he’s going to challenge it…. He provided a lot of value with that and I learned a lot. He’s very demanding. Every single day, in the seven and a half years I was there, I’m not sure there were many days that we didn’t communicate at least by e-mail or by phone, but he’s very interested and I welcomed that. We had developed a great relationship the first four or five years I was there and we had an ability to talk pretty quickly and get down to the main issues, but he’s demanding and he’s tough.”

Pritchard was known as a very good drafter (he maneuvered to get Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge in the same draft). He also selected Greg Oden over Kevin Durant, and he talked about that choice.

The overwhelming thing that we got from everybody we talked to was (Oden) doesn’t care if he scores or does anything, but he’s about winning. We had been really trying to change our culture for guys who really put the team first, not care about stats, and really be about winning. We thought he was the pick at the time. We did the same thing with Durant. They said he’s gonna be the best scorer in the league, he’s going to be an amazing player, and he’s gonna win. We just felt like Greg was going to be that guy that just doesn’t lose basketball games. Right before he got hurt we were talking as a management group and we were like man doesn’t it feel like this is becoming a little bit like Greg’s team because in the locker room after a loss he would get really, really upset and he demands out of his teammates probably more than any other player I’ve been around other than Larry Bird. When he lost, he let his teammates knows what they have to do the next game.

Oden’s body betrayed him, and the question is should Pritchard and the Blazers said they saw it coming. But you year a lot of revisionist history from team executives now about how they would have taken Durant — that’s crap. Almost to a man front offices at the time said they would have taken Oden.

  1. downtowndanny - Jul 6, 2011 at 4:20 PM

    Oden looked like a beast, anybody would have taken him, unless their needs were for a ball handler. It wasn’t a bad move, it just didn’t pan out. Kwame Brown 1 overall, now thats a bad move.

    • dohpey28 - Jul 6, 2011 at 4:39 PM

      They picked a 7 footer with different sized legs, a bad shooting wrist, and he looked 50. These are the same professionals who all would’ve picked Sam Bowie back in the day over Michael Jordan too.

      On Durant “gonna be the best scorer in the league, he’s going to be an amazing player, and he’s gonna win”, yet they picked Oden because “he doesn’t lose basketball games’, yeah solid reasoning.

      There where lots of people at the time who killed the pick, I like how Helin makes it seem it was across the board unanimous. Yeah I don’t think so.

      • bignick1063 - Jul 7, 2011 at 11:16 AM

        Bowie was drafted in 1984. Allen didn’t buy the team until 1988.

  2. mella21 - Jul 6, 2011 at 4:37 PM

    That last paragraph made my head hurt.

  3. metalhead65 - Jul 6, 2011 at 5:03 PM

    the blazers are just a cursed team when it comes to big men. first it was walton and his foot although they did get a championship out of him then came bowie. I know they get killed for not taking jordan but how exactly were him and clyde drexler going to play together?they needed a big man and bowie was the best at the time. same thing with oden,they did not need durrent they needed a guy to play defense and rebound who did not care if he didn’t score 20 a game. not their fault he has bad knees.he injured his wrist not his knees in collage so how were they supposed to they would give out. plus when he has played he looks impressive.

  4. jjstrokes - Jul 6, 2011 at 5:34 PM

    Oden didn’t care about statistics; well apparently so bc he barely has any lol jk…. So is Pritchard trying to say that Durant is a Stats guy???… Durant is the best team-playing superstar in the modern NBA. Just bc he fills up the Stats & is a elite scorer doesn’t mean he doesn’t define what it is to be a “Team Guy”

    I realize Oden was hurt that year in Columbus but it was very obvious that he was extremely limited offensively. Experts were labeling him the next Shaq; I said that he was going to be more like Mutombo (now he only wishes lol)

    Durant was a 6’10 guy who basically did it all. He dominated on both sides of the floor in college & we’ve seen much more physical players than Durant struggle defensively against the best in D1 basketball. He was the second best defensive layer in the country behind Oden & he couldn’t bench 185lbs haha. You can’t teach that kinda length, freakish athleticism, winning attitude, & pure scoring-ability. So his body was frail but that’s why NBA teams hire the best strength/conditioning coaches in sports

    Durant was a no-brainer in my opinion. I remember arguing with my co-worker all summer about that one (he was a big Shaq fan)

  5. theghostofwillisreed - Jul 6, 2011 at 9:18 PM

    can’t knock the blazers for oden. when you have a potential stud in the middle right there for the pickings, you take him every time. you can find wing players a lot easier than a all-star pivot. how many great centers are in the league now compared to great wings? howard and then a huge dropoff after that.

    a shame for the blazers and greg oden for how it turned out but you really can’t fault the logic here.

    • jjstrokes - Jul 7, 2011 at 1:43 AM

      Disagree completely…. It’s much more difficult to find a 6’10″ guy who can score from anywhere on the floor than a Big w/ no post-game (or any offensive game to speak of). Your whole argument is based upon the logic that everyone thought this guy was gonna score 20 ppg. Wish we could poll every NBA GM back in ’07 to see exactly how they felt about his offense, I’m know all of them were just drooling about his defensive skills (so was I). Oden doesn’t have the pure athleticism that Dwight does. I think his best possible career scenario would’ve been something like a young Patrick Ewing except Oden will never develop that smooth jumper….. You made my point without even realizing it: How many Centers have a job in the NBA strictly for defensive purposes? Yeah, I can’t name all 30+ of those guys either…. Now how many Wing Players can average 30ppg throughout an NBA season? 1 maybe 2 (Kobe’s prolly too old to do it again)…….

      Notice how I never even brought up his knees.

  6. khandor - Jul 7, 2011 at 8:23 AM

    Injuries like the ones which Oden has had are largely beyond a player’s control. If not for these unfortunate occurrences, Greg would already have developed into the “better” [i.e. more effective] player in a comparison between himself and Kevin Durant. Hopefully Greg will be able to get himself fully healthy again and then renew his efforts to pull his team to the top of the league standings. He is still at an early stage of his career with time to create an outstanding legacy … if he can get and then stay healthy.

    Those who thought that Jordan would eventually become the inferior player in comparison with Bowie … if both players remained healthy … simply did/do not have the necessary level of basketball acumen to construct a championship-winning team in the NBA. Michael was better than Sam at every level of competition after his junior year in high school which is NOT the same situation as what exists with Kevin Durant and Greg Oden.

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