Commentary: Rich Cho Can Be My GM Anyday
When the May 2011 Vanity Fair was delivered to my front door about a month ago, I was a smidge disgusted. Not with the shirtless, devilishly handsome Rob Lowe puffing his biceps out in a desperate attempt at affect, but the scandalous headline just above the masthead. It read: Bill Gates Tried to Screw Me Out of Billions! By Paul Allen. The same Paul Allen who’s worth roughly $14 billion and doesn’t come off playing the role of victim with a natural flair. I mean, the guy has his big toe dipped into three separate professional sports leagues as an owner, and boasts two of the 100 largest yachts in the world. Nobody need feel bad for something that (supposedly) took place over 30 years ago. To write the book was petty, but it pails in comparison to an inconceivable act two days ago. The sightless firing of his general manager, Rich Cho, not only makes him look bad, it embarrasses one of the league’s proudest organizations and could eventually restrict an all-time great fan base from expanding.
This is now Allen’s third major act of impudence in the last two years. In March of 2010 the team abruptly parted ways with former Vice President of Basketball Operations Tom Penn. It preceded the firing of a respected and ingenious general managers, Kevin Pritchard, on an announcement made just a single hour before the NBA draft. Firing a general manager after just 10 months of work is a head scratcher; adding the fact that he actually did an above average job boosts it to flat out strange. But what makes this move so harrowing is the fact that Paul Allen, a man who made billions predicting how mankind would operate in both business and pleasure in its future, showed a clear lack of knowledge pertaining to the way people come to their personal conclusions. SI’s Ian Thomsen wrote a piece yesterday with the headline, “Trail Blazers’ abrupt dismissal of GM Cho is simply disgraceful.” The subject at the end of his column hits the move’s mysteriousness right on the head. After witnessing the utter dysfunction that’s occurred in that organization’s front office over these past 16 months, WHO IN THEIR RIGHT MAN WOULD WORK FOR PAUL ALLEN? Who would willfully place their neck under a heavy axe that’s tightly gripped in the man’s hand? It’s helpless paranoia.
Through all of this nonsense, a true victim lies beneath Allen’s destruction: Rich Cho. Here’s a quote from a recent Ken Berger blog post:
“Rich is such a nice guy, such a good, gentle guy, and this could destroy him,” one of Cho’s colleagues said Monday. “He may never get another job as a GM because people will say, ‘How weird is it that you got fired after only 10 months on the job?’ But they don’t care about that stuff. They don’t care how they treat people.”
It didn’t take long for me to sway towards the Rich Cho fan club. The guy doesn’t sit on his hands when an opportunity to take advantage of Charlotte’s woeful finances taps him with a glowing finger. Due to Carmelo Anthony/Deron Williams/Kendrick Perkins lollapalooza, the physical act of acquiring Gerald Wallace was an overlooked move; Cho not only pulled off a blockbuster deal, he pulled off a lopsided blockbuster deal. And Allen fired him. If your sole purpose of owning a professional sports team is to create a personal fan club, fill it with admirers, and crush all those who challenge you rather than foster an atmosphere which places winning as a top priority, you shouldn’t be allowed the honor.