Larry Weinberg, a founder and original owner of the Portland Trail Blazers, has died at 92, according to a statement from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
In 1970, Weinberg and two partners, Herman Sarkowsky and Robert Schmertz, secured the rights to an NBA expansion franchise in Portland, paying $3.7 million for that opportunity.
Weinberg, who'd built a fortune in residential real estate, became the club's majority owner in 1975. Under his leadership, the team won its only NBA championship in 1977. He sold the team in 1988 to Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen for $70 million. (Allen died Oct. 15, 2018.)
Weinberg and his family traveled to Portland in January 2017 to participate in the 40th anniversary celebration of the team's championship.
U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a former college basketball player and an ardent Blazer fan, tweeted a fond remembrance of Weinberg:
Through the Blazers communications staff, former Blazers' President Harry Glickman and the team's original broadcast voice, Bill Schonely, reflected on Weinberg's time with the team.
"Under Larry's ownership, the Portland Trail Blazers became the best franchise in the NBA," Glickman said in a statement. "Larry was a Blazer booster all his life and appeared at many playoff games even after he sold the club. He was a fine gentleman. Personally, I worked with him closely and we became good friends, as well as owner and employee. Joanne and I extend our condolences to his wonderful family."
"Larry was truly a bright spot for our franchise, a gentleman's gentleman as an owner and team executive," Schonely added. "Whenever he was in the office, he made a special effort to always visit with employees. Larry was good to the Trail Blazers players and coaches, and someone we all admired."