Portland Trail Blazers founder and longtime general manager Harry Glickman died Wednesday at age 96.
The cause of death was not included in the team’s announcement.
Glickman, with backing from Herman Sarkowsky, Larry Weinberg and Robert Schmertz, paid the NBA a $3.7 million expansion fee to get the Blazers into the league ahead of the 1970-71 season. Glickman was still part of the ownership group that sold the team to Paul Allen for $70 million in 1988.
In just their seventh season of existence — all with Glickman serving as the general manager — Blazers won their lone NBA championship in 1977. The team featured Bill Walton, Maurice Lucas and Lionel Hollins.
Blazers president and CEO Chris McGowan said in a statement, “Harry was the definition of a true Trail Blazer. 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.”
Trail Blazers president of basketball operations Neil Olshey said in a statement, “Harry Glickman laid the foundation and established the benchmark for small market success in the NBA. 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.”
Before founding the Trail Blazers, Glickman grew up in Portland and graduated from the University of Oregon. He started the Portland Buckaroos minor league hockey team in 1960 and organized exhibition games of the NFL, NBA and the Harlem Globetrotters in his hometown.
He also nearly brought an NFL expansion team to Portland in 1964, but the city’s voters narrowly rejected building a proposed domed stadium.
—Field Level Media