December 5, 2023

Brighton Journal

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Phil Knight of Nike, Alan Smolensky of the Dodgers bid for Portland Trail Blazers

Phil Knight of Nike, Alan Smolensky of the Dodgers bid for Portland Trail Blazers

Nike founder Phil Knight and Los Angeles Dodgers part-owner Alan Smolensky have submitted a written offer of more than $2 billion to buy the Portland Trail Blazers, sources told ESPN Thursday, and they are in serious talks to acquire the team.

Sources said Knight and Smolensky have had discussions with the Paul G. Allen Trust, which oversees the franchise, and the plan is for those talks to continue.

Sources said Knight’s deep ties to the region — with support from Nike and his support for his university, University of Oregon — reflect the ownership group’s potential desire to keep the team in Portland for the long-term.

Allen’s sister, Jodi, has been running the fund since her brother’s death in October 2018. It has long been believed that sales of the Blazers and NFL Seattle Seahawks are part of an eventual plan for the trust.

Portland is one of the league’s youngest media markets, but the team has a long history of supporting rabid fans and being successful in the regular season and games. Forbes Trail Blazers valued $2.05 billion in their 2021 rankings, making them the 13th most valuable franchisee in the NBA.

Another small-market team, the Minnesota Timberwolves, was recently sold for $1.6 billion.

Knight, at 84, is one of the 25 richest people in the United States, with a northern fortune of $50 billion. Born in Portland, Oregon, he resigned as Chairman and CEO of Nike in 2016 after 52 years running the company.

Smolinisky joined Dodgers as a limited partner in 2019. He has been successful in commercial real estate and investment.

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The Blazers are undergoing a franchise revamp on the basketball side, including first year general manager Joe Cronin and second year general manager Chauncey Billups.