Column: It's Pritchard's job until it's taken away
Everybody knows. Everyone seems to have an idea of what Portland Trail Blazers general manager Kevin Pritchard should do. How and when Blazers owner Paul Allen should act. The exact time that Allen should pull the trigger. The exact moment that Pritchard should give in, give up and walk away.
So, in honor of all the finger-on-the-pulse experts and perfect prognosticators, here’s an absolutely crazy, unbelievably off-the-wall idea: do not quit, Kevin.
Do not give in. Do not give up.
If the Blazers are going to fire you, make them.
Do not resign. Do not sign anything. Do not walk away.
If you truly are gone — if the most damaging parts of the anonymous source-based, rumor-laced national reports predicting your imminent demise and destruction are true — then make them smoke you out.
Rebel. Turn into a squatter. Surround yourself with longtime friends and coworkers you can trust and believe in — Blazers coach Nate McMillan, director of NBA scouting Michael Born, director of college scouting Chad Buchanan, and a legion of assistant coaches, trainers and communications employees immediately come to mind. And then dig in, stand your ground and prepare for the long haul.
Do just about anything you need to do to stay strong and stick around.
Just do not back down.
You have six years of proof on your side. Six years spent working with others, changing the culture and reclaiming the Blazers’ once-tarnished name. Six years that have produced Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum, Joel Przybilla, Marcus Camby, Martell Webster, Andre Miller and Greg Oden, among others. Six years that have resulted in back-to-back 50-win seasons and playoff appearances. And since Dec. 21, 2007, the Rose Garden has been sold out every time Portland has taken the court.
Your resume is stacked. You have a job that is the envy of just about every other general manager in the league. And with the Blazers being set up for a playoff run for at least the next five seasons, the real work has only just begun.
So why in the world would you resign?
Because it would be quick and easy? Because it would make an admittedly awkward and uncomfortable situation immediately go away?
It is your job. You played and learned the game, then rose from the lowly American Basketball Association to the Blazers’ GM in just eight years while earning it. And if you really are going to be stripped of one of the best executive positions in professional sports, then make them take it away from you.
Because here is the thing: I don’t think they have the guts.
If they fired you, they would have to explain it. And considering that less than three months ago you were one of the few people in the world who owned a priceless golden key to the Rose Garden, the widely predicted impending firing of Kevin Pritchard is pretty much unexplainable.
But don’t just take my word for it.
“Getting rid of Pritchard is the front-office equivalent of cutting Roy,” said Portland resident Brian Libby, a longtime Blazer fan whose online petition supporting Pritchard has gathered almost 1,000 signatures. “If the Blazers let KP go, it will be the first time in my 38 years of rooting for the team that I will seriously consider abandoning them.
“I never wavered one second as a Blazer fan when Rasheed Wallace was threatening referees, or when Damon Stoudamire was arrested for marijuana possession. But if Pritchard is shown the door, I may be ready to turn in my red-and-black pinwheel.”
Brian T. Smith covers the Trail Blazers for The Columbian. Contact him at 360-735-4528 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his Blazer Banter blog at columbian.com/blazerbanter. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/blazerbanter