The seriousness of how Portland treats the Trail Blazers forced Neil Olshey to accelerate his approach in rebuilding the roster.
The Blazers are now 16-3 with the best record in the Western Conference.
"It caught me off guard," Olshey said. "Listen, I had been in this building as a front-office executive, a coach, and I knew how much it meant inside this building with the fans. But how much the identity of this city is wrapped up in the Blazers. It's so important that this team performs well – and does it with the right kind of guys. It's not just winning, but how we win, how we lose, how guys play, how guys treat the fans.
"And you know, that's what accelerated it for me. It would be great to come in with a three-to-five-year plan, slowly rebuild, but about five minutes after I got here, I realized: We're going to have to pick the pace up on this."
Olshey came from the Los Angeles Clippers, where he worked in the shadow of the Los Angeles Lakers and the ubiquitous entertainment industry.
"You could live and work in anonymity in L.A.," Olshey told Yahoo Sports, "but it's different here. At one point, the Dalai Lama was here and our president, Chris McGowan, and I presented him with a Blazers jersey. I wouldn't have even been on the list to be in the arena with him in L.A."
LaMarcus Aldridge has been one of the NBA's best players just months after he doubted if he may be better off going to a team ready to contend.
"Neil has done great job," Aldridge told Yahoo Sports. "I mean, he's done … great."