Paul Allen, the longtime-owner of the Portland Trail Blazers who was passionately involved in the team’s operations over the last three decades, died Monday from complications from non-Hodgkins lymphoma. He was 65.
Allen, the co-founder of Microsoft with his friend Bill Gates, was one of the richest men in the world when he purchased the Trail Blazers in 1988, five years after resigning from Microsoft. A self-confessed basketball fanatic with the Blazers, he had a current net worth pegged at $20 billion.
Allen attended most Blazers games and was a familiar sight seated behind the basket and courtside. He was known for evaluating college prospects ahead of the each year’s NBA draft and for relishing being with the Blazers on draft day.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler expressed his sadness on Allen’s death on behalf of the city.
“He will be sorely missed. We extend our sincere condolences to his family,” Wheeler said.
Trail Blazers President and Chief Executive Officer Chris McGowan said he was fortunate to work with Allen and witness all the passion he put into making the world a better place.
“He was an amazing mentor and great leader for our organization,” McGowan said.
It’s unclear what will happen to the ownership of the Blazers with Allen’s death. There was speculation that the NBA would want a team to remain in Portland no matter what happens with the Blazers ownership because the Portland market is one of the NBA’s most successful.
The Blazers qualified for the playoffs 17 times and made five trips to the Western Conference Finals under Allen’s tenure, including reaching the NBA Finals in 1990 and 1992.
Allen went on to purchase the Seattle Seahawks of the National Football League and become part owner of the Seattle Sounders of Major League Soccer. He also used his considerable wealth to invest in a host of companies and donate to countless charities.
His death leaves a big void in the Northwest sports landscape, and questions are likely soon to follow about the future of the Seahawks as well.
Allen was a revered figure in both Seattle and Portland for his entrepreneurship, philanthropy and for keeping the teams in their home cities. He was known for keeping the Seahawks from moving to Southern California in the mid-1990s and his commitment to keeping the Blazers in Portland.
After Allen became the Seahawks owner, the team had 12 playoff appearances, three NFC titles and the only Super Bowl victory in team history.
When Seattle celebrated its title in February 2014 inside CenturyLink Field, the normally reserved Allen took a moment to address the crowd. He spoke for less than four minutes, but his words carried weight for the fans.
“I can’t say how proud I am that the Seahawks are able to bring the Vince Lombardi trophy home to Seattle,” Allen said that day. “Now we are all Super Bowl champions, each and every one of us.”
On his impact in the world of high tech software, Gates, his cofounder at Microsoft, said “Personal computing would not have existed without him.”
With his sister Jody Allen in 1986, Paul Allen founded Vulcan, the investment firm that oversees his business and philanthropic efforts. He founded the Allen Institute for Brain Science and the aerospace firm Stratolaunch, which has built a colossal airplane designed to launch satellites into orbit.
He also backed research into nuclear-fusion power.
Over the course of several decades, Allen gave more than $2 billion to a wide range of interests, including ocean health, homelessness and advancing scientific research.
-Associated Press contributed to this article.