If fortune had arisen for Neil Olshey, he would be acting in soap operas and not leading the Portland Trail Blazers. The general manager of the Blazers has taken the long and winding road which most NBA executives take to get to the top.
Olshey wanted to be an actor. He got his first gigs in commercials and then began to land some small roles in soap operas. You might have heard of them: All My Children, One Life To Live and Loving. You may have heard of those shows, but you probably never heard of Olshey the actor.
Realizing that soaps were a dying breed, he moved out to Los Angeles and took a chance in Hollywood. That’s when his true talent kicked in. It was his talent for finding basketball players that propelled him into a NBA career. While an assistant coach at Artesia High School in Los Angeles, he coached future NBA player Jason Kapono. He also worked at SFX sports scouting and finding talent for NBA executives and scouts.
He parlayed his success into making an impression with Donald Sterling, the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, who brought him in and the rest in Hollywood speak is history. He rose to the ranks of general manager and helped the turnaround in Clipper land. He drafted Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, Eric Bledsoe and Eric Gordon. He brought in Chris Paul and others and made the Clippers into what they are now: a title contender.
Olshey moved over to the Trail Blazers in summer of 2011 to become their general manger. He drafted Damian Lillard and got rid of some albatross contracts. He tried to bring over Roy Hibbert but failed. What he has done is brought stability to the franchise. He brings a track record of evaluating talent and finding gems with low draft picks such as Jordan. He will also never take the team back to the era of the Jail Blazers.
The team is currently not in a playoff spot, but slowly Olshey is molding the team into what he wants. It took him a couple of years in Los Angeles to do the same. Olshey will never have to go back to acting again.
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