Allen has assembled a Blazers team that leads the NBA in misbehaving

On many nights, Paul Allen slips stealthily into his baseline seat at the Rose Garden in Portland, wearing glasses cut from a storm window and clothes that appear pulled from the hamper. It's geek chic, if you're a billionaire. And for Allen, everyday comfort is a luxury item he can indulge in after he became the visionary other half of Bill Gates during the formation of Microsoft.

Allen was the dreamer. Once the imagination was manufactured, once the wallflower was awash in wealth, Allen began the enviable process of experiencing life as if it were an unending fantasy camp.

Want to chill with celebs? Play host to an elaborate masquerade bash in Venice and invite everyone from Geena Davis to Sting. Want to go yachting with the big cheeses? Throw millions into the OneWorld entry to challenge for the America's Cup without seeing that it's rife with skullduggery. Want to own a sports franchise? Buy the Portland Trail Blazers and the Seattle Seahawks and sign players till the ink runs dry.

Fan-tastic. But sometimes, the trouble with dreamers is their inattention to reality's details; and the problem with fans' becoming owners is their autograph-collector's approach.

If there is a hot free agent, Allen has wanted him. Whatever the cost, no matter the baggage. As much anything, this disregard for prior conduct is the reason the Trail Blazers (10-9) will stroll into New Jersey on Wednesday night against the Nets carrying the latest additions to a mug-shot montage that has been assembled under Allen's ownership since 1988.


Out of necessity (since no one can keep up with up-tempo arrests), The Oregonian has created a link labeled "Blazers and the Law" for its Web site readers. It's a score sheet for trouble over the years, from Isaiah Rider's citation on marijuana possession to Shawn Kemp's entrance into drug rehab, from Gary Trent's alleged assault on his girlfriend to Jermaine O'Neal's verbal skirmish with a police officer.

Not to be outperformed, Ruben Patterson was charged with assaulting his wife in late November, days after Damon Stoudamire and Rasheed Wallace failed to fan the pot smoke out of a Humvee.

If Allen is mortified, it goes unsaid. He isn't seen around town much, either. Allen is an absentee owner, who, along with Bob Whitsitt, the Seattle-based president/general manager he hired, likes to parachute in and dash out of town. So, perhaps Allen hasn't seen the local letters to the editor written by disgruntled luxury-suite owners or the banner on one city street that asks for fans to boycott the Blazers: "We need a team that can beat L.A. Not women and the justice system!" And maybe he hasn't heard how Mayor Vera Katz said last week on the Oregorian Webcast, "If you continually make the same mistakes over and over, you should be kicked you-know-where."

Selena Roberts

New York Times

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