Two of the most recognizable brands based in the Portland area are Nike and the Portland Trail Blazers. The pair is already linked — some Blazers players wear Nike gear, though notably, star Damian Lillard rocks Adidas. But Nike and the Blazers could become even more closely connected after Phil Knight's latest move.
According to an ESPN report, the Nike founder joined Los Angeles Dodgers co-owner Alan Smolinisky with an offer to buy the Blazers. Knight and Smolinisky are willing to pay more than $2 billion for the team.
There's just a slight hiccup with that plan: The Blazers don't appear to be for sale.
Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen bought the team in 1988 for $70 million and remained the owner until he died in 2018. Since then, his sister Jody has managed the franchise through the Paul Allen Trust. And while Adam Silver told reporters before Game 1 of the NBA Finals that he believes the team will eventually be sold, that day doesn't seem to be today.
Knight, 84, has never owned a pro sports franchise, though he's been involved in the sporting world for about half a century. He's donated hundreds of millions of dollars to the University of Oregon, where he ran track in college. Smolinisky joined Magic Johnson and several other investors in purchasing the Dodgers in 2019. It's unclear how much of a stake he owns in the team, but he's looking to diversify by getting into another sport.
If the sale eventually does happen, it would be among the richest deals in NBA history. Joseph Tsai bought a 49% stake in the Brooklyn Nets with a $2.3 billion valuation in 2019, and Steve Ballmer bought the Los Angeles Clippers for $2 billion in 2014.
For now, the Blazers will remain with the Allen Trust. But Knight and Smolinisky will keep conversations going to try and join the NBA ownership ranks.