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A few current Portland Trail Blazers players were contacted for interviews during the investigation into the toxic and hostile work environment claims against team president of basketball operations and general manager Neil Olshey, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
Up to this point, the investigation centered on former and current staffers. O’Melveny & Myers, the firm enlisted by the Trail Blazers to investigate, will ask the players about their experiences working with Olshey, sources said.
Since the investigation became public late last week, Olshey was at the practice facility every day this week among employees who issued complaints against him, sources said.
There was an internal belief a ruling on Olshey’s future would be announced Friday morning when staffers received an early morning email titled “Blazers Business Operations Update,” sources said.
Instead, Chris McGowan, the president of business operations and CEO of the organization since 2012, announced his resignation.
What is Neil Olshey accused of?
During his 10-year tenure, there was never an official complaint filed to human resources against Olshey until recently, sources said.
The investigation into Olshey is expected to conclude in a few weeks, sources said.
He allegedly subjected staffers to profanity-laced tirades, including former head coach Terry Stotts while Olshey sat courtside during home games, which routinely caught the attention of Blazers players.
In October 2017, late team owner Paul Allen banned Olshey from watching the game inside the arena bowl after Olshey flipped off an individual from the Los Angeles Clippers after Blake Griffin nailed a game-winning 3-pointer, sources said. The incident was caught on television.
Inside Chris McGowan's resignation from Trail Blazers
McGowan was 39 years old when he was hired by the Trail Blazers in October 2012. He accepted the illustrious role of understanding the challenges and tasks that come with running the business sector of an NBA team.
Olshey — who was hired five months earlier — publicly set boundaries during McGowan's introductory news conference.
“Chris has his responsibilities at the Rose Garden and I have mine at the practice facility [is] important to me,” Olshey said at the time while sharing the news conference table with McGowan. “Knowing someone that appreciates basketball operations but doesn't think they have input into basketball-related decisions, just like I appreciate the job they do and support them any way I can, but I don't come down to the Rose Garden to tell them how to put together season-ticket packages.”
McGowan was livid, leading to a post-news conference exchange between the two executives, sources said.
McGowan informed the Trail Blazers' ownership group of his decision to step down on Nov. 1, before an independent investigation was launched into Olshey.
McGowan said his decision is unrelated to the investigation, citing the ability to seek other employment opportunities after nine-plus years with the Trail Blazers.