Canzano responds after Blazers GM Olshey calls him out over critical column

John Canzano reacts to criticism of his column blasting the Blazers' culture

PORTLAND, Ore. — John Canzano responded to criticism by Trail Blazers general manager Neil Olshey during exit interviews Tuesday after the Oregonian columnist and KGW contributor wrote a column blasting the Blazers' culture.

After Golden State routed Portland 128-103 to finish off a four-game sweep of the series Monday night at the Moda Center. Canzano wrote a column for the newspaper, asserting that Portland's organizational culture is broken.

"As much as we'd like to make the shortcomings of the Blazers organization about the broken roster, the organization's culture is busted, too," Canzano wrote.

As examples of the Blazers' culture problems, Canzano wrote the following:

  • Warriors stars Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry both shook hands with Moda Center ball boys, staffers and ushers before and after Game 4. Canzano did not mention whether Blazers players shake hands with Moda Center employees, but on his radio show Wednesday, he said a Blazers security guards told him a Blazers player has never come over to thank him.
  • The Blazers don't foster a good relationship with the media, which in turn, hurts the relationship with fans.
  • Comcast Sports Northwest, the Blazers' television partner, fired an employee during the season. Canzano wrote the employee was fired because he criticized Olshey on Twitter.
  • A new rule instituted by Olshey at the beginning of the season disallowed media members from sitting in the folding chairs near the team bench before games. According to Canzano, Olshey sat there prior to Games 3 and 4 to avoid answering questions from the media.

On Tuesday afternoon, Jason Quick, a Blazers beat writer for Comcast Sports Northwest who used to work with Canzano at the Oregonian, quote-tweeted the Twitter link to Canzano's column, writing, ""FWIW: A column on culture from someone who spent - no exaggeration -- zero seconds in Blazers locker room or practices this season."

Canzano responded on Twitter, saying, "The Blazers organization hired a media partner/entity as its mouthpiece in the media… doesn’t need me to be one."

At exit interviews later Tuesday, during the media availability with Olshey, Quick asked the Blazers general manager to evaluate his team's culture.

Olshey laughed.

"I was glad that (the column) was written by someone who came to two games all year," Olshey said. "Clearly (Canzano's) motivation was to abuse his privileges as a media person with his pass so that he could get tickets for his relatives and pictures taken with the opposing point guard in the opposing point guard's jersey.

"Clearly that's an unbiased opinion. Right? That's an impartial observer talking about our roster when he has his nephew in a Steph Curry jersey taking pictures with Steph Curry. Sure.

"You know, look, I'm very comfortable with where our culture is," Olshey said.

VIDEO: Olshey responds to Canzano's column about the Blazers culture

Canzano's wife, Anna Canzano, tweeted a photo on Saturday night from Game 3 of their nephew, in a Curry jersey taking a picture with Curry in the background. She wrote with the photo, "Not a bad Saturday night for my nephew. Ahem, go Blazers. #ripcity #pdx ⛹🏻🔥👏 – at Moda Center at The Rose Quarter."

Canzano responded Tuesday with three tweets.

Tweet No. 1: "Saying you have good culture doesn't mean you have good culture. Like saying I have good hair, in fact."

Tweet No. 2: "Asking the Blazers if they think they have great culture is like asking a hoarder if they think the house is clean."

Tweet No. 3: "I can't wait to get on air for tomorrow's BFT radio show... 12-3p on @1029TheGame ... wear a mouth piece (unless you already are one)."

Canzano opened his radio show Wednesday responding to Olshey's comments, doubling down on his criticism of the organizational culture of the franchise and explaining how he views his role as a member of the media.

Olshey and Canzano had a text conversation Tuesday night, Canzano said, and he told Olshey his criticism wasn't personal. But he said it was clear to him that Olshey viewed it that way.

"The larger issue here is that Neil Olshey, obviously, took it personally," Canzano said. "It must have really bothered him. ... A little bit paranoid, a little bit high off the wall. ... Here in Portland, they're creating their own fish bowl."

Canzano said he invited Olshey to come on the radio program Wednesday, but said he was told Olshey wasn't interested.

The larger issue here is that Neil Olshey, obviously, took it personally. It must have really bothered him. ... A little bit paranoid, a little bit high off the wall. ... Here in Portland, they're creating their own fish bowl. — John Canzano

Referring to the accusation by Olshey that Canzano abused his media privileges by bringing his nephew to a game to get a picture with Curry in a Curry jersey, the columnist explained the situation.

Canzano said he brought his 11-year-old nephew and the boy's pastor to Saturday's game, bought two tickets for them with his own money, dropped them off outside in front of the Moda Center and met up with them after the game.

The pastor and child went down to floor level before the game and took a photo with Curry warming up in the background, Canzano said. He said the boy is both a Curry fan and a Trail Blazers fan and wanted to wear his Curry jersey to the game that night.

"How does that make me impartial?" Canzano asked. "Biased?"

Canzano also said he doesn't attend a lot of games because as a sports columnist, there are other Oregon sports news stories he needs to report on. He also said he's not going to be at a lot of games because he has a family.

The columnist criticized the Blazers' front office, saying they are "very heavy handed, very controlling" and that they want to "spoon-feed the media." He said being around the organization is "suffocating."

Canzano also criticized other members of the local media, saying "if you want spoon-fed coverage, there are a lot of places to get it. You can start with the news partners of the Blazers."

LISTEN: John Canzano talks about Neil Olshey, Blazers' culture on his radio show

© 2017 KGW-TV


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