Originally published in SLAM 45

Deep within the recesses of his 438-room, suburban Seattle Micromansion, (version 2.0), Paul Allen sat in his pashmina and python recliner, smiling. The owner of the Portland Trail Blazers—and much more of the Pacific Northwest—Allen was jubilant. It was the fourth quarter of Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals, and his Blazers led the hated Lakers by 15, a seemingly insurmountable lead. Bathed in the glow of his 2,500-inch projection TV, Allen cackled with glee. “Yes, my Blazers. You are indestructible! The Lakers have as much of a chance of coming back as that Federal judge does of breaking up my Microsoft!” Suddenly he sat up, startled by a thought. “I’m gonna have to go to Indiana! Better gas up the jet. And build a house! Can’t stay in a hotel.” But as he reached for his diamond-encrusted phone, something happened. Money shots started missing. And the Lakers started rolling. The receiver fell from his hand.

10. 6. 4. 3. 1. The insurmountable lead was surmounted. All was falling apart. Desperately, Allen dialed David Stern’s celly. “Dave! I’ll give you 10 mil if we win!” Silence. On screen, the Lakers went up two. “20? 50?” Four. “$100 million? I’ll make you president of the company! Anything!!!!” Finally, as all seemed lost, a response. “Who the heck is Dave?” Wrong number. As Allen scrambled to double-check it in his solid platinum Palm Pilot, the clock slipped under 45 seconds. On the screen, a two-story tall Kobe Bryant juked Scottie Pippen and broke into the paint. Behind Brian Grant, Shaquille O’Neal slipped toward the hoop. “Noooo!!!” Allen yelled, spilling his Platinumschlager. Kobe released, Shaq elevated. Season over. Oh well, Allen thought, $70 million don’t buy as much as it used to.

Russ Bengtson