Portland Trail Blazers founder Harry Glickman, 96, dies
Harry Glickman, who stands as one of the most significant figures in Oregon sports history, died Wednesday. He was 96 years old.
Glickman led the group that established the Portland Trail Blazers, the hugely popular basketball team that joined the NBA as an expansion franchise in 1970.
The Blazers said he has been considered the "father of professional sports in Oregon."
"The Trail Blazers have long been the beneficiary of Harry's vision, generosity and inspiration," said Jody Allen, chair of the Trail Blazers. "As the team's founder and first general manager, his leadership was instrumental in igniting our city's pride and passion for sports. I am grateful for Harry's many contributions to the franchise over the years. He will be missed by many."
As founder, Glickman organized the Blazers' original ownership group that included Herman Sarkowsky, Larry Weinberg and Robert Schmertz. They paid a $3.7 million expansion fee, and the Blazers put consistent winning teams on the floor, highlighted by the 1977 NBA championship and 1990 and 1992 NBA Finals teams.
The team also set the American professional sports record by selling out 814 consecutive home games.
He was well known for his famous phrase, "My word is my handshake."
Glickman retired in 1994, when he became president emeritus. Some time later he helped lead Portland Family Entertainment, which brought back the Portland Timbers soccer team and Portland Beavers' Triple-A baseball team and contributed to the renovation of then-PGE Park (now Providence Park).
Glickman had also led the Portland Buckaroos, which won several championships in the old Western Hockey League; at the time, the WHL was considered equal, or at least close, to the competition level of the NHL.
He was also involved a variety of sports and entertainment events.
A great many people posted tributes to the Facebook page of his son, Marshall Glickman, who's also a former Blazers' executive. The Glickman family recently held a gathering that included Harry.
Wrote Marshall: "It was a touching moment as our family gathered together with our beloved Mr. Glickman to chat, tell stories and listen to the special words of Rabbi Cahana and hear the voice of Cantor Cahana. We are lucky to have a father that will leave a lasting legacy. He is a special dad, whose values reflect what we should all strive for."
Glickman was born and raised in south Portland, graduated from Lincoln High School and in 1948 graduated with a degree in journalism from the University of Oregon. While at Oregon, Glickman worked as a stringer for the Oregon Journal. Following college, Glickman served three years in the U.S. Army, where he saw action in the European theater with the 12th Armored Division, for which he was awarded a Bronze Star.
Through the 1950s, Glickman's Oregon Sports Attractions promoted a wide range of events, including an annual NFL exhibition game at Multnomah Stadium (now Providence Park), the Shrine Football Game, the Harlem Globetrotters, and world championship boxing via closed-circuit television. Glickman also served as general manager of Multnomah Stadium in 1958 and 1959.
In 1960, Glickman founded the Buckaroos hockey team that played in the newly built Veterans Memorial Coliseum. In the 12 seasons with Glickman at the helm as the club's co-owner and president, the Bucks advanced to the Lester Patrick Cup championship seven times, winning three, including the inaugural 1960-61 season, and set numerous attendance records.
In 1964, Glickman had the assurance of an NFL expansion franchise from friend Pete Rozelle, who had become commissioner, but Portland voters rejected the proposed 40,000-seat Delta Dome by a mere 10,000 votes.
"Harry was the definition of a true Trail Blazer," said Chris McGowan, president and CEO of the Blazers. "Through his dedication and persistence, Harry not only created a successful sports franchise in a small western market, but has united hundreds of thousands of people around the world through a shared love of basketball. Rip City will forever be thankful to Harry and his forgotten raincoat."
"Harry Glickman laid the foundation and established the benchmark for small market success in the NBA," said Neil Olshey, Blazers' president of basketball operations. "He was the driving force that set the stage for the 1977 NBA championship, a seminal moment that elevated Portland and allowed it to join the elite of professional sports franchises. His contributions to the city of Portland and the Trail Blazers are immense and for that we all owe him a great debt of gratitude."
Due to the postponement of the NBA season, the Trail Blazers will announce how they plan to honor Glickman at a later date.
Glickman is survived by his wife, Joanne, son Marshall, daughters Jennifer and Lynn, grandsons Joel and Laz, and granddaughter Sydney.
There will be a private burial service for Glickman. A public memorial service will be held at Congregation Beth Israel at a later date.
Sen. Ron Wyden made remarks on Twitter:
"There would be no @trailblazers franchise in Portland without the foresight and dedication of my friend Harry Glickman. I join with everybody in #RipCity tonight in thanking this community icon for his vision and mourning his passing."
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