Does Phil Knight’s Quest to Buy the Blazers Include Bringing a WNBA Team to Portland?

The shared element: a Vancouver, Wash., tech billionaire named Kirk Brown.

In February, WW first reported that a Vancouver, Wash., tech billionaire named Kirk Brown had launched discussions to bring a WNBA team to Portland.

That fact adds an intriguing wrinkle to Thursday’s news that Nike co-founder Phil Knight has submitted a more than $2 billion bid to buy the Portland Trail Blazers.

On Thursday night, former Oregonian sports columnist John Canzano reported on his website that Brown was a part of the ownership group assembled by Knight. (That group also includes Alan Smolinisky, a partial owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers.)

Earlier the same day, a representative for Brown confirmed WW’s earlier reporting to The Athletic: He wants to bring a WNBA team to Portland in the women’s basketball league’s next round of expansion. The Athletic reported that the league is looking at 10 to 12 cities, hoping to pick one or two as expansion sites by September.

Considered as a whole, those tidbits suggest that Knight and Brown’s larger vision includes owning both the Blazers and an expansion WNBA team.

Who is Kirk Brown? He founded a company now known as ZoomInfo, which provides data and intelligence to marketing companies. (It’s part of why so many websites seem to know your browsing habits.)

Contacted by WW on Friday, Brown directed questions to a spokesperson, who did not return a phone call.

Read WW’s full story on the effort to return the WNBA to Portland here.