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Brian Berger of Sports Business Radio is plugged into Portland's front office and has been all over this story throughout the search process. Late yesterday, he reported the choice would be Miller. (A press conference has been announced for later today.)
Last Friday, Berger previewed the decision and discussed Miller generally:
Larry Miller would be an interesting choice. Miller was promoted to VP and GM for Nike Basketball just last October. In his current role, he is responsible for all aspects of Nike's global basketball business, including Brand Jordan. Miller joined Nike in 1997 and has led Brand Jordan (a standalone division of Nike), since 1999. He was named the Brand Jordan President in 2002. During his tenure atop Brand Jordan, the company has continued to grow despite the fact that the company's namesake is no longer an active NBA player. Brand Jordan grew revenues 40 percent in fiscal 2006. Nike is the global leader in basketball shoe and apparel sales and being the person charged with leading one of the company's most highly visible categories is pretty prestigious.
Its interesting to me that Miller would want to leave his very powerful position at Nike, with global authority and exciting expansion in to Asia looming, to become the team President of an NBA team. Don't get me wrong, the Trail Blazers job is very attractive, especially with the team on a major upswing with the addition of the #1 pick in the June 28th NBA Draft, but it doesn't have nearly the cachet globally as Miller's current position with Nike.
Berger speculates that one reason Miller might be willing to make that jump is because the Blazers likely pay more. He also points out that from a business perspective, one of Miller's many challenges has nothing to do with basketball, and that's developing the valuable downtown land surrounding the arena.
UPDATE: It's official. From the press release:
"It is a very exciting day for the Trail Blazers organization to be able to announce the hiring of Larry Miller as our team President," said Trail Blazers Chairman and Owner Paul Allen. "Larry is a preeminent figure in the basketball industry and one of the most widely respected sports professionals in the country, and importantly has been a long time member of the Portland community."
As President of the Trail Blazers, Miller will be responsible for all aspects of the Trail Blazers business portfolio, including all team business activities, the Rose Quarter and Rose City Radio and will report to Vulcan Sports CEO Tod Leiweke.
"Larry Miller has operated successfully at the highest levels of our sport", said NBA Commissioner David Stern. "The Trail Blazers and the city of Portland will greatly benefit from his expertise and vast knowledge of the NBA. I am pleased to welcome him to the league."