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Friday, July 10, 2020

Journalist responds to Blazers GM putting him on blast

Portland Trail Blazers general manager Neil Olshey isn’t here for your slander, as one local journalist is finding out the hard way.

In his season-ending press conference earlier this week, Olshey reacted to a column by John Canzano of the Oregonian that criticized Portland’s “broken” culture after their first-round loss to the Golden State Warriors.

“I was glad that it was written by someone who came to two games all year,” said Olshey, per Dan Feldman of ProBasketballTalk. “Clearly, the motivation was to abuse his privileges as a media person with his pass so that he could get tickets for his relatives and pictures taken with the opposing point guard in the opposing point guard’s jersey. Because clearly, that’s an unbiased opinion, right? That’s an impartial observer talking about our roster when he has his nephew in a Steph Curry jersey taking pictures with Steph Curry. Sure.

“You know, look. I’m very comfortable with where our culture is,” continued Olshey. “I mean, look, you guys are around it. Hey, you’re in that locker room more than I am, right? I mean, quite honestly, you guys know. The day I stopped coaching, I haven’t walked into an NBA locker room. Not once. It’s not my place. When I talk to the guys, it’s out of the locker room. That’s their sanctuary. So, you guys know how close a group that is, how they feel about the coaching staff, the support that they get from the organization. They know we have their best interest at heart.”

For his part, Canzano took an opportunity to respond to Olshey’s comments on Wednesday, admitting that he had, in fact, attended just two Blazers games all season but had watched many others, presumably on television. He also rebutted the nephew-in-a-Curry-jersey anecdote specifically:

I bought a pair of tickets to Game 3 for my nephew and our church pastor. I had to work the game, so I needed a chaperone to sit with the kid and the church youth pastor was all for it. I dropped them off in front of Moda Center and picked them back up after the game. The nephew, 11, likes Steph Curry and wore his Curry jersey to the game and the pastor snapped a photo of the kid with Curry warming up in the background. It was posted to social media. My nephew is in the foster-care system. My wife and I are his guardians. It felt like the right thing to do. Not sure why this is even a topic. Not sure fans care, either. But I suppose Olshey was trying to say that because my nephew wore a Curry jersey, I couldn’t be impartial? I don’t know, and it’s a waste of time to think about it.

Though it does happen, it’s rare to see a reporter get ethered like this in the NBA. But Olshey has been protective of his guys lately in the wake of their early playoff exit, so you have to admire the fervor of the Blazers GM.

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