Veterans Memorial Coliseum opened its doors in November 1960, ushering in a new era of sporting events for Portland residents. A young sports promoter named Harry Glickman helped found the Portland Buckaroos, the minor league hockey team that served as the arena’s first full-time tenant. But Glickman had his eyes set on something bigger for the City of Roses: The NBA.
The Portland native had long dreamed of bringing the NBA to his hometown. Now he had an arena that could house the team, but the NBA wasn’t interested.
“The NBA commissioner at the time, Maurice Podoloff, didn’t want anything to do with Portland; it was too far west for him,” Glickman told The New York Times sports columnist Dave Anderson in 1985. But Glickman bought his time and started assembling a group of financial backers to secure an expansion bid. By 1967 the NBA had three teams on the West Coast, including the SuperSonics in Seattle.
By the beginning of 1970, the NBA was poised to extend an expansion offer to Portland. But as Glickman recently revealed to Oregon Experience as part of the documentary “The Jewish Frontier,” the expansion deal might not have happened if it weren’t for the stubbornness of Washington Bullets owner Abe Pollin.
When the Trail Blazers took the court for the first time in 1970, Glickman served as the team’s first general manager. By many, he is considered the founder and longtime patriarch of the Blazers. Today he enjoys lifetime courtside seats to every home game.
The Founding Of The Portland Trail Blazers