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I cannot know which claims are true and which are exaggerations, but I feel it is my responsibility to let the readers decide for themselves.
Wow. A day many of us thought would never come. After nine years of profoundly mediocre GM work, capped off by two or three years of outright neurotic malfeasance, Neil Olshey has been tossed into the Willamette River, left to flow down the mighty Columbia, be deposited in the Pacific Ocean and taken by her mighty currents, hauled by the gravity of the moon to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, where he will reign forever as President of Basketball Operations.
Why was Neil fired? The team said an investigation revealed “violations of the Portland Trail Blazers’ code of conduct.”
What does that mean? Some people might say it means he wasn’t very good at his job and the team leveraged his less than spectacular office behavior so they could jettison his ass for cause-that-might-hold-up-in-civil-court.
Those people are just cynics. I am “Sourced” in the “Org,” with a high-placed source who regularly met me behind the Dockside dumpster with some quality dirt (and excellent weed). My notes, mostly still legible through the omelet grease, show that Olshey exhibited some profoundly troubling behavior during his time as Blazers GM.
I cannot know which claims are true and which are exaggerations, but I feel it is my responsibility to let the readers decide for themselves the veracity of the allegations that highly placed individuals definitely said to me.
- Olshey called all the centers on the team “Meyers,” even after Meyers Leonard was jettisoned from the organization in 2019. If there were two centers in the room at the same time, he would apply little modifiers to clarify which one he was talking to: Jusuf Nurkic was “Beard Meyers,” Mason Plumlee was christened “Square-shaped Meyers,” Robin Lopez went by “Hunched Longhair Meyers,” Enes Kanter was “CIA Meyers,” while JJ Hickson, Hassan Whiteside, Ed Davis, Skal Labissière, and Georgios Papagiannis were collectively and individually christened “Not Meyers.”
- Would occasionally walk into the weight room and say “…fellas pumping the holy iron…Daddy loves it, baby,” while eating a Payday bar. Olshey’s tendency to call himself “Daddy” infected many of his daily interactions. “Daddy needs the Culligan man to swap out this jug,” “Daddy needs more toilet paper in his office throne room,” “Daddy’s looking for more pick and rolls from the Tallboy” (Olshey’s derisive nickname for Terry Stotts), “Daddy needs to go home and fire up the latest Suits. I recorded the whole show with my VHS machine, so I wouldn’t have to buy the DVDs. It’s called creating value.” Not harassment or intimidation, per se, but certainly unnerving.
- Known to call CJ McCollum into his office, where they would sit in silence for half an hour while Olshey just looked at him. Eventually, McCollum would break the silence, inquiring as to what it was Olshey needed to speak to him about. Olshey would just laugh and say, “Nothing…I just like looking at the future of the franchise.” Olshey would continue to perform this ritual long after McCollum turned 27, the age statisticians generally regard as an NBA player’s productive peak.
- Every Wednesday afternoon, Neil would adopt a gorilla-like stand and amble through the hallways of the practice facility, grunting the word “Suits” over and over. If anyone got in his path, he would stand up on two legs and scream “SUUUUITTTSS” in their face. No one ever quite figured out if Gorilla Olshey was talking about the article of clothing or the hit USA lawyer drama. (He was a noted fan of both in his non-gorilla guise.)
- Frequently spent coaching staff road game per-diems on novelty cryptocurrency. One rode into the facility on a genetically modified (or possibly robotic: sources differ) 15-foot tall corgi, yelling “RIDE THE DOGE BABY” at the top of his lungs. Some sources said it appeared he had not slept for three days.
- Known for opening free agent meetings by letting them know that they “didn’t have to live in Portland,” which was “a fucking shithole, if I’m being honest with you,” and that there were “other cities you can commute from nearby, I swear.” Would spend at least 20 minutes a meeting extolling the virtues of Camas, Wash., a rank-smelling paper mill town situated east of Vancouver.
- Olshey’s openly contemptuous relationship with coach Terry Stotts was a source of profound friction around the office. I already alluded to his habit of exclusively calling Stotts “Tallboy,” or “The Tallboy,” or “Big Tallboy Terry, the Bane of My Existence.” (He would say the third one while affecting a Morrisey voice.) Any time Stotts would contradict Olshey’s reasoning in public, Olshey would ball up his fists and mutter, “Oh, sorry we weren’t all BIG STARS who played in THE ITALIAN LEAGUE…some of us were trying to MAKE IT AS A SOAP OPERA ACTOR and couldn’t spend our time eating DELICIOUS SPAGHETTI because we were THE TALL BOY of Italy.” Sometimes while he delivered this screed, he would choke back tears and run out of the room.
- Olshey has not spoken to Damian Lillard in five years. It’s possible that he believes that Damian Lillard is merely an on-court projection of his deeper consciousness: Any time someone complimented Lillard’s work ethic or leadership abilities, Olshey would tip his head and say “Yeah…I’m really crushing it out there, in the boardroom, on the court, and in the bedroom,” with no apparent irony in his voice. Would play Dame’s records in his office. Whenever someone walked in, he would nod his head to the beat and say, “Damn. Another hot-ass rap album from MC Neil Ol-Hey-Ladies.”
It’s hard to separate truth from fiction in the Olshey matter. The reports of his troubling, extreme behavior are plentiful. I didn’t even include the Oaks Park monkey story. I am sure we will know the truth once the results of the organization’s investigation have been released. Which they will be. Any minute now.
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