Paul Allen had many passions, ranging from technology to philanthropy to rock ‘n’ roll. But basketball and his beloved Trail Blazers were undoubtedly high on the list.
“Nobody loved that team more than him,” former Blazers exec Chad Buchanan told The Oregonian this week.
On Thursday night, as the Blazers kicked off their 2018-19 season, Rip City felt a little different.
Allen passed away Monday at the age of 65, two weeks after announcing that he was diagnosed with a recurrence of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
The Microsoft co-founder purchased Portland’s NBA franchise in 1988 and was known around the league as one of the most engaged owners, tracking the team’s progress with precision, providing his players and coaches with utmost support, and attending every home game from his usual courtside seat under the hoop.
The Blazers honored their late owner during an emotional nationally-televised home opener on Thursday against the rival Lakers and newly-added star Lebron James.
Trail Blazers players wore special patches and shoes honoring Allen, who also owned the Seattle Seahawks and Seattle Sounders.
— Casey Holdahl (@CHold) October 19, 2018
Outside Moda Center, fans showed their support.
— Cole Miller (@ColeKOIN) October 19, 2018
The team had a moment of silence after a tribute to Allen just before tip-off (fans watching at home were frustrated with TNT not showing the tribute).
— Orlando Sanchez (@orlandokgw) October 19, 2018
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver was in attendance on Thursday.
“Paul Allen was the ultimate trail blazer – in business, philanthropy and in sports,” Silver said in a statement earlier this week. “As one of the longest-tenured owners in the NBA, Paul brought a sense of discovery and vision to every league matter large and small. He was generous with his time on committee work, and his expertise helped lay the foundation for the league’s growth internationally and our embrace of new technologies. He was a valued voice who challenged assumptions and conventional wisdom and one we will deeply miss as we start a new season without him. Our condolences go to his family, friends and the entire Trail Blazers organization.”