Steve Patterson is the new athletic director at Texas. Part of his job will be to produce teams that beat the Cowboys and Sooners in all sports.
But don’t get too mad at Patterson. We owe him a debt of gratitude. Patterson once got out of the way so that Oklahoma City would be the beneficiary of a certain ballplayer. Fellow by the name of Kevin Durant.
Patterson was the president and general manager of the Portland Trail Blazers in 2007. But team owner Paul Allen declined to extend Patterson’s contract that spring, and Patterson resigned. Allen named Tod Leiweke president, and Kevin Pritchard was named general manager. That June, Portland chose Greg Oden first overall in the NBA Draft. That meant Durant fell to the Seattle SuperSonics at No. 2.
You know the rest.
In a 2010 radio interview, Patterson said he would have taken Durant No. 1 overall, because of known health concerns about Oden. Of course, it was easy for anyone in 2010 to say that, because Oden already had become a huge injury bust and Durant was a superstar.
But there are a couple of reasons to believe Patterson. First, Patterson is a Texas grad, with both bachelor’s and law degrees from UT. He had to know Durant’s special talents as well as anyone did. Second, Patterson knows his NBA stuff, having made most of the moves that put together the championship rosters of the Houston Rockets in 1994 and 1995.
Paul Allen apparently wanted Durant, too, but coach Nate McMillen and staff, plus Pritchard, wanted Oden. And truthfully, most of the NBA thought Oden was the proper No. 1 pick, since great big men are hard to find. Turns out, players like Durant come around about once every 15 years, so those guys aren’t easy to find, either.
Anyway, Durant went to Seattle, played his rookie year, then came to Oklahoma City for what has been a magical ride with the Thunder.
So thanks, Mr. Patterson. Even OU-Texas weekend, you should never have to pay for dinner in the presence of Okies again.
Texas has hired Patterson to replace DeLoss Dodds as athletic director, and who knows what kind of AD will be at Texas? There’s so little to go on.
Patterson’s collegiate experience is not lengthy. In the last 30 years, he’s spent a few months running the financial side of Arizona State athletics, then has been ASU’s athletic director for 18 months. So he hasn’t even hired a major coach, though he likely was in on the talks when ASU hired Todd Graham to coach football after the 2011 season.
But that NBA resume’ is solid. Patterson put together the Blazer roster that was the envy of the NBA, before the Thunder emerged. The draft night deals Patterson produced for LaMarcus Aldridge (another Texas U. product) and Brandon Roy set up Portland for years to come. Alas, the injuries to both Oden and Roy killed the Blazer chances.
With the Rockets, Patterson put together the roster that won the 1994 and 1995 NBA titles. Center Hakeem Olajuwon and forward Otis Thorpe already were Rockets when Patterson was named GM. Patterson purchased Vernon Maxwell’s contract from the Spurs for cash; Maxwell made 364 starts in six seasons for Houston. Patterson also traded for Kenny Smith (yes, the TNT Kenny Smith) along with Roy Marble, giving the Atlanta Hawks John Lucas, Tim McCormick and a 1994 first-round draft pick that became Charlie Ward. Smith made 68 playoff starts for the Rockets over the next five years.
Patterson also took Robert Horry 11th overall in the 1992 NBA Draft. Horry became a clutch player not just on the Rockets, but on contending teams for the next decade. Patterson traded a second-round draft pick to Portland for Mario Elie and drafted Sam Cassell 24th overall in the 1993 NBA Draft. Elie and Cassell became valuable reserves on those Houston title teams.
Patterson spent some time running Houston’s International Hockey League franchise, then helped Bob McNair put together a franchise for the NFL that became the Texans.
So he knows his stuff. I don’t know what kind of athletic director he’ll be, but Rick Barnes needs help rebuilding the Texas hoops roster, he’s got easy access to a man with a plan. And a man who did the state of Oklahoma a big solid.
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